The 1930s were a very difficult time throughout America, many men lost their jobs and families were struggling to survive. In order to help alleviate some of the pains of the Great Depression the Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) program was put in place, in March 1933, to give men jobs to support their families. The name was later changed to Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1937.
The program was created under Franklin D. Roosevelt in order to not only produce jobs but also to protect the forests and lands around the United States. Colorado was a prime place to set up a base because it had so much forest land. The CCC camp set up in Morrison was one of many throughout the Rocky Mountains. Learn more about the CCC in Colorado here.
Camp SP-13-C was opened in 1935 and closed in 1941-2. CCC Company 1848 and Veterans’ Company 1860 lived here while working on projects in nearby Mountain Parks and especially on Red Rocks Amphitheatre. After January 1943, when the camp was turned over to the City of Denver, it was used by Scout and other groups for a time (approx. 1950s-60s), but now it is the maintenance headquarters for Denver Mountain Parks and most of the buildings are used for storage. There are 14 buildings in all, of the 15 original, making this one of the most intact camps remaining in the U.S. The camp is open to the public only by appointment, in season. Email mountainparks AT gmail DOT com to arrange a visit or call the office at 720.865.0900.
The camp is part of Red Rocks Park and was designated on the National Register in 1990 (SJF.442) as part of that district. It housed the men who built Red Rocks Amphitheatre, which was designated a Denver landmark in 1973. The Recreation Hall houses a small museum dedicated to the CCC, with artifacts and memorabilia on display, thanks to the efforts of NACCCA Alumni Chapter 7, who collected the materials. In this photo, the late James Carden, alumnus and member of Chapter 7, reminisced in the Rec Hall/museum in December 2008. Original trunks and bunkbeds help convey life in a CCC camp.
The camp buildings were installed on site in 1935. Five buildings are barracks where the men stayed; the rest are support buildings. The two buildings that are open by appointment are the Recreation Hall and Mess Hall; the grounds and exteriors of the other buildings may also be toured.
These modular frame buildings were of standard style and construction in more than 4,000 camps across the country, but today only a handful of sites provide a glimpse of what life in a camp was like for the 3 million men who served. Barracks, for example, are 20 ft wide by 120 ft long and housed up to 40 men. Other buildings include garages and shops, a latrine and shower building, and a headquarters building with infirmary and commissary.