Who are they?
HistoriCorps is a nonprofit organization that provides volunteers, students and veterans of all skill levels with a hands-on experience preserving historic structures on public lands across America. Volunteers and students work with HistoriCorps field staff to learn preservation skills and put those skills to work saving historic places that have fallen into disrepair.
Arapaho Springs Shelter, Colorado
History: With an increase in automobile travel in the early 20th century, the City and County of Denver created the Denver Mountain Parks system to encourage travel to Colorado’s forested mountain wilderness. Their focus was creating scenic road loops to enable easy access for city travelers in search of mountain vistas. In the 1930s, as part of this effort, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began their development of the G-Loop, which starts in Morrison, goes over Squaw Pass from Bergin Park to Echo Lake, to Mt. Evans Road, then North to Idaho Springs and Bergen Park and finally back to Denver through Golden. In addition to the road itself, they built trails, scenic overlooks, picnic areas and campgrounds. Included in this wave of construction is the Arapaho Springs Shelter, which served as a campsite for hunters and hikers. Nestled between pine trees and willows, this structure exhibits typical CCC-era characteristics, including the use of cobblestones and cedar shingle roofing.
The historical legacy of the Great Depression includes everything from federal programs such as Social Security to transportation landmarks such as New York’s Triborough Bridge (now called the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge). But some of the most distinctive reminders of that time are the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
Between 1933 and 1942, the CCC put millions of unemployed men to work on infrastructure projects, many of them in the country’s national parks and forests, where they built the simple structures and rough amenities that have helped define the camping experience for Americans ever since. During the summer of 2016, the U.S. Forest Service rescued one small part of its CCC inheritance, an open-air community kitchen at the Hebo Lake Campground in western Oregon’s Siuslaw National Forest.
After some eight decades of service, the log-framed, National Register–eligible building needed a total restoration, says Forest Service archaeologist Kevin Bruce. Fortunately, he adds, “we had some early photographs from the late 1930s, when they had just built the community kitchen,” to guide the work.