Author Archives: mhch7

CCC and Morrison Camp in the News

In October, Colorado Public Radio published a new story asking “Is It Time For A 21st-Century Civilian Conservation Corps?” Our answer has always been a resounding “YES!” Reactivating a CCC-style program has long been on the agenda of alumni groups nationwide, and Denver’s Chapter 7 was active in supporting and promoting the concept.

The article by Sam Brasch includes his interview with DMP Ranger Gwen Ganow, who updated him on developments at the Mt. Morrison Camp (SP-13) where DMP is headquartered. Jacob Ware, chief of Elk Creek Fire Protection District near Conifer, provided further thoughts on how a new federal CCC-inspired program of national service could help with fire mitigation in his area.

AmeriCorps NCCC crew working in Red Rocks Park.

Denver Mountain Parks, whose extensive involvement with the 1930s CCC influenced most of its parks, has also continued partnering with organizations that have followed the CCC legacy. Since its inception in 1993, AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) teams have worked for Mountain Parks refurbishing historic buildings, thinning forests, building new structures and trails, and even pulling weeds. Locally based Mile High Youth Corps has also been actively involved in DMP projects over the years.

As the alumni groups have been telling us since the 1990s, it’s time to “Bring Back the CCCs”!


CCC Author Bob Audretsch Fundraiser: Can You Help?

CCC author Bob Audretsch recently experienced horrible flooding in his Lakewood, CO, apartment. Many original CCC references were lost, along with furniture and personal items. Bob has set up a Go-Fund-Me account to help him recover

Here’s Bob’s Amazon bio, which summarizes his available books. He recently completed a 2-volume set on Colorado. On the way to press is his book on the CCC in Wyoming. He’s asking a modest amount to help get up and running so he can get the Wyoming book to his publisher. I hope we can all chip in any amount to help him continue to create these important reference books, an asset to genealogists as well as CCC enthusiasts and historians. 

Of course, if you can spread the word, that would also be much appreciated!

If you can, please help!Thank you!!

Rec Hall Mural at Mt Morrison Camp

Over the years, we and our visitors have puzzled over the mysterious mural behind the stage in the Recreation Hall at Camp SP-13, Morrison. Some of the mystery was resolved several years ago, when a friend connected us with John Stencel, who formerly served as president of the Rocky Mountain Farmers’ Union.

The Rec Hall/museum in 2009.

By 2008, Chapter 7 alumni were wrapping up their long use of the Morrison Camp, but wanted Denver Mountain Parks to continue hosting a display of artifacts they’d collected. The Rec Hall still houses their museum today. An Open House was held there on August 10, 2019, with about 500 people attending.

Mr Stencel writes:

The Red Rocks camp (CCC) brings back many wonderful memories. I attended Farmers Union Camp at Red Rocks as a boy in the 1950s. In 1959, National Farmers Union purchased the old Bailey Ranch and built their own facility, now known as the Farmers Union Education Center, near Bailey, Colorado. Starting in 1960, I was a camp counselor at Bailey and then in 1964, I helped conduct camps at Bailey. Sorry for the side-bar, but it helps me with time frames.

I am not sure when Farmers Union started renting the facilities at Morrison, but I believe it was in the late 1940s. Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and National Farmers Union held camps at the old CCC facilities for more than 10 years, before moving the camps to Bailey. I attended Jr. and Sr. camps at Red Rocks from 1952 to 1959. These were Farmers Union Camps for Jr and Sr high school age children. I went to the National Farmers Union All-States Camp at Bailey in 1960. All-States is a national camp where high school graduates come from all over the country to attend a ten-day leadership training camp.

Closer view of the Farmers Union mural at the back of the stage. The stage is set up as it was for the Chapter 7 alumni meetings, with podium and chapter seal.

I remember the mural on the wall that you are talking about… Square and Round dancing was always a part of the evening activities. I can’t give you a date on when it was painted, but it had to be in the mid-1950s. I remember it appearing one year when I returned to camp in the mid ’50s, when I was in high school. We always had a co-op store where we sold candy and soda pop and souvenirs. Profits from the co-op were used to buy something for the camp. Perhaps the All-Staters decided to use their profits to paint the mural. I am just guessing this, but it is a possibility.

Saving CCC Outhouses

Note: The following post is an edited summary of a report received in 2014 from Grant Houston, editor of the Lake City newspaper Silver City World. He notes that his interest and appreciation for CCC architecture was ignited as a result of the tour of the Morrison CCC camp several years earlier. Apparently we never received photos of this project, but we’re including a few from Denver Mountain Parks files as examples.

By Grant Houston
A while back I mentioned I’d located two 18′ long, 7′ wide rustic-style log CCC outhouses which had been saved from demolition in the 1960s and put up on blocks in a virtually inaccessible area at 30-Mile Resort, a mile or so below Rio Grande Reservoir on the Upper Rio Grande River in Hinsdale County. I had discussions with Rio Grande National Forest officials and received permission that one of the outhouses would be donated to Hinsdale County Museum and moved to the Lake City museum after we decided how the structure might safely be moved.
Read the rest of this entry

CCC featured in Westword article on Mountain Parks

Congratulations to the Denver Mountain Parks Foundation on the thorough article on all their new projects, just published in Westword on May 9, 2018.
     Denver Mountain Parks Are Ready for Their Close-Up, by Margaret Jackson.

In addition to background and overall coverage on planned park improvements, much of the article features the City’s new partnership with HistoriCorps, an organization modeled somewhat after the CCC, which will assist in park projects and be housed in renovated barracks at the Mount Morrison CCC camp formerly occupied by those who built the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, among other park projects.

You can arrange to tour the CCC camp by contacting Denver Mountain Parks Cultural Resources Administrator Shannon Dennison (shannon.dennison AT denvergov DOT org, or leave a message at 303.526.0740.)

Before Earth Day, There Was the CCC!

Chet Nolte, left, and Dick Henderson with Woodsy Owl at the Evergreen Earth Day Fair.

Chet Nolte, left, and Dick Henderson with Woodsy Owl at the Evergreen Earth Day Fair.

Among notable CCC alumni slogans in the 1980s and 1990s, “Before Earth Day, There Was the CCC” ranked high, along with “Bring Back the CCCs.” Connecting modern environmental awareness with the work of CCC companies in the 1930s made good sense, as many camp projects were aimed at improving our nation’s forests, fighting soil erosion, and building parks. For many, the Conservation Corps workers are best known for planting trees—21,848,085 of them in Colorado alone!

CCC exhibit on display at the Evergreen Earth Day Fair, 1997 or 1998.

CCC exhibit on display at the Evergreen Earth Day Fair, 1997 or 1998.

Allying Earth Day with CCC alumni was a natural idea, and in about 1997-98, Chapter 7 attended the Evergreen Earth Day Fair, with an educational exhibit promoting their activities and the accomplishments of the original CCC. Several Chapter 7 members enjoyed talking with guests throughout the day, as well as celebrating with Earth Day representatives Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl.

Earth Day just isn’t the same without you! We miss our alumni friends!

Meet the Boys: Belve Beasley

BELVE BEASLEY, (Pete), I grew up in Rusk, TX, one of 11 children. I attended Maydelle High School, I first joined the CCCs in November of 1936 and was sent to camp at Castle Rock, CO. There I worked on the Explosives Crew, blasting a rock quarry. I went home at the end of my term.

There was still no jobs there, so I re-enlisted for another term in the CCCs on April 5,1939, and was sent to Douglas, AZ to become a GI driver for the Army Dept, and held this job until February 1941.

My duties were to haul supplies for the camp, handle company mail, pick up canteen supplies, laundry, etc. I was also on 24 hour stand-by as Ambulance Driver. I also drove staff cars to trans¬port dentists, doctors, and officials to other camps in all parts of the state. I drove enrollees to Phoenix to attend GI Drivers School.

Later I went to Barber School in Douglas, AZ and became the Company barber. I also took a Sr. Life Guard course through the Red Cross. It was compulsory to have a first aid card and take a refresher course every 90 days. I assisted in saving one life in a lake in Monument.

I became an Assistant Leader in August 1939, and was assistant to the Company Commander.

In 1939 our Company changed from Co. 828, CNM-2-A to Co. 828, NP-9-A. On June 25,1940 our company was transferred to Monument, CO Co. 828, Camp F-60-C. There, in addition to the above duties, I participated in Army planning their recreation. I helped train enrollees and issued their clothing and supplies, I also played on the baseball team.

I received the State Safety Driver Award in Arizona for driving over 100,000 miles without an accident.

I gained valuable experience while in the CCCs and made many life long friends.

I met and married a girl from Monument, Evelyn Eckerson, and we have been married a little over 49 years. We have one son and two grandchildren. We have lived in Colorado Springs most of these years.

I was honorably discharged on Feb. 5, 1941. After leaving the CCCs, I was employed by Civil Service and retired from the Air Force Academy in 1966. After that I owned and operated a Trailer Hitch shop which I sold in 1974. Since then I have enjoyed traveling and fishing.

1 would like to hear from any of the fellows that were in the same company at the time I was. Please contact me at: Belve (Pete) Beasley, Colorado Springs, CO.

All personal accounts are from Civilian Conservation Corps: the Way We Remember It, Nolte, M. Chester (ed), 1990, unless otherwise noted.

Meet the Boys: Gene Battles

Hello, my name is Gene (for Eugene) Battles, a native of Salina, OK. I just missed being an Arkansan by 60. mi, but I’m proud to be called a “Sooner,” and don’t object to that.

Most guys got into the Army after they had been in the CCCs, but I reversed the process. In 1931 I enlisted in the 2d Army Div. in San Antonio, and attended Cook and Bakers School at Ft. Sam Houston. In 1935, when my hitch was about up, they sent me up here to Ft. Logan to instruct the cooks and bakers. A lieutenant there said that the CCCs were short of cooks and bakers, and he talked me into joining up. My first camp was Co. 1822 (SP-14-C), Golden CO, where I stayed a short time, transferring to the Ft. Collins, CO Camp (Co. 809, SCS-8-C) near Wellington. George Mauk was Project Superintendent, and Galen Emerine and Carl Kling of our Chapter 7 were also there at that time.

Talk about being out in the “boonies!” We were about 11 miles from nowhere, on Box Elder Creek; rattlesnakes were everywhere. The camp Co offered a carton of cigarettes to the enrollee who killed the most snakes in any one week. (One week the count was over 300 snakes!) You had to watch it when going to the latrine in the middle of the night! For pastime, Doc (Lt. Herbert) Bell, the camp surgeon, and I would take our forked sticks out after supper and have fun catching the critters. We had a cigar box full of rattles. We planted buffalo grass and trees, some of which are still standing there, although the camp is gone. I guess the thing that put an end to the snakes was when we poisoned the prairie dogs, and that eliminated their food supply. Anyway, that part of the country is now free of snakes.

I got “antsy” in the Cs and wanted to try my wings outside, so, in 1938, I found a job as a cook and baker in the Chicken Inn in Greeley, CO, only to quit that job and go back into the same camp in October 1938. During this time I was in the National Guard, each summer cooking for 30 days at Camp George West during the annual encampment. In October, Mary and I decided to get married, and, since you couldn’t be married and be in the Cs at the same time, I got mustered out in January 1939. Then came the war.

Since I was already an Army vet, I was drafted early and joined the 45th Div. at Ft. Sill, OK, making Staff Sgt. (Motor Pool) early in 1940. My job was training draftees, and I served in that capacity in Wisconsin, TX, and Georgia. In May 1943, I was assigned to desert training in the Mojave Desert (CA) in preparation for the North Africa Campaign. I was with Gen. Patton all across North Africa, then on to Sicily as a First Sgt. with the 53d Amphibious Engineers. We made the initial landings at Anzio and Salerno, and on up the ‘boot’. I was Jockying a “Duck,” a land-and-water craft that swam and ran like hell on land. At Anzio, I got a busted ear drum but no Purple Heart. I was a caterpillar mechanic in the Cs, so that helped me on into France, Germany, Austria; and I was with the 101st Airborne at Berchtesgaden.

All in all, I had put in 12 years in the Army and four years in the CCCs. After the war, I got into home construction, but quit that to go to work for Schwayder Bros., retiring from that company after 25 years in 1976. Somewhere I have seven Battle Stars and a Bronze Arrowhead, the latter indicating an initial landing. Our outfit got a special citation for fighting at Anzio, too. The lessons I learned in the Cs helped me to no end in the military. I like to get together with my buddies at Chapter 7 meeting and go over old times. Without the Cs, I doubt that we would have won the war, its that simple. At least, that’s the way I remembered it.

All personal accounts are from Civilian Conservation Corps: the Way We Remember It, Nolte, M. Chester (ed), 1990, unless otherwise noted.

Meet the Boys: William Hoy Askins

I was born in Oklahoma, and educated in Texas and Colorado.

A little over 50 years ago, on Mar. 1, 1938, I joined the CCCs at Florence, CO with five others. Two of the boys were from Florence and the others from Canyon City. On the second day we were picked up at 8:00 AM at the Fremont Bus Station by truck and taken to Colorado City. We arrived at ten, and had our lunch. We waited around until 1:45 in the afternoon and then we were taken to Pueblo. We had to sleep on the floor. To top that off, we had Chili for breakfast! That was a first! We boarded a train at Pueblo for Colorado Springs. Well, the train arrived on time—but the CCC bus was late. When it arrived, we piled in and went north. After about ten miles, we found the camp at Woodland Park. After a big supper (who said the CCCs didn’t feed well!) we got our bunk assignments which we had while at the camp at Woodland Park.

Next day we were issued our CCC clothes, and taken to the Rampart Range area, where we started to plant seedling trees. We did this for 3 to 4 months, then we went to de-bugging trees by Cheesman Dam. We also were to look out for horses — which we never found. That took a lot of walking.

I was in that camp for six months. I learned many valuable things. I found out that the CCC can play an important part in a young boy’s life, as it did in mine. At that time, jobs were very hard to find, and when you did get one, it paid very little. The CCC was very valuable to me.

At least, that’s the way I remember it.

All personal accounts are from Civilian Conservation Corps: the Way We Remember It, Nolte, M. Chester (ed), 1990, unless otherwise noted.

Demas Atencio, Version As Written

I was born and grew up in Walsenburg, CO, as were my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. I signed up at Walsenburg to join the CCC, along with three other young boys whose names were Ted Barros, Tony Anselmo, and Pat Vigil. We were sent to Co. 1848, Camp 13 at Morrison, CO the summer of 1935. I was there until late in 1937.

I am proud of having been a member of Camp SP-13-C. We had a fine relationship that existed between the members of our Company and the citizens of Morrison.

I am especially proud of having had a part in building the Red Rocks Park Amphitheatre; a masterful monument that will be there for Centuries for people to enjoy. I’d say it’s the most beautiful monument ever built by CCC. I wish all America could see it.

All the work was done by Co. 1848*, Camp SP-13-C members, of which 95 percent were Colorado Natives, working with pick and shovel and jackhammers. I operated a jackhammer. Sometimes in carving out the side of a cliff I was suspended by a rope which was attached to my belt and held by three men. I once injured my foot and was unable to work for a month. I still have a snapshot of my foot in bandages. Sometimes it was dangerous, but mostly it was hard work and we Colorado boys loved it.

After dinner at 5 pm a GI Truck would take us to Denver, drop us off in front of the State Capitol and we all scattered out to movies, dances, meeting girl friends and having fun. The deadline for pick-up back to Camp was midnight. Well, one night I missed the truck by five minutes and needless to say, I walked all the way (every inch of it) to Morrison. It was 15 miles, pitch black out (it was dark!) In those days with no lights, just open country and farms. I got into camp at 6 am just in time for roll call and breakfast, and a hard days work. Later I solved that problem by buying myself a Model A Convertible which took me into Denver every night. We were not allowed a car at camp so we parked in Morrison.

Camp SP-13-C was a meticulous camp, a show place. Many Dignitaries, political and business people came to visit the camp, from Denver and elsewhere.

After I left the CCC I served as Constable in Walsenberg, CO until 1941 when I moved to California where I now live.

I scan the CCC [Alumni] Journal for names of our Company members. I have never found one, I remember them all—Where are they? I still have the Roster with all their names and the towns where they lived in Colorado.

In June 1989 I attended a Colorado State CCC Reunion at the Camp hosted by Mile-High Chapter 7 Denver who have preserved and beautifully maintained the camp. I was graciously welcomed by all — a swell bunch of old time CCC fellows. The old feeling of camaraderie and friendship was still there.

Thanks to CCC!

—Demas Atencio, Sutter Creek, CA

All personal accounts are from Civilian Conservation Corps: the Way We Remember It, Nolte, M. Chester (ed), 1990, unless otherwise noted.

*Co. 1848 left the Mt. Morrison Camp in June 1937; Co. 1860-V then occupied the camp and completed work on the amphitheatre (through 1941), along with Co. 1822-V, from Genesee Camp SP-14-C.