Friday, July 18, 2008

Roads, Trails, Picnic Sites Constructed By CCC In Phoenix

“AZR”, January 22, 1934

Water System Is Completed By Workers

The hope of a group of far-sighted Phoenix citizens, a project awaited through years of prosperity-the improvement of Phoenix mountain park, 14,000-acre municipally owned recreational preserve, strangely enough, is at last being realized as a direct result of the depression.

Four hundred young men and boys, recruited from the ranks of the unemployed for the two Civilian Conservation Corps camps established in the park last December, are busily at work on various projects which will add materially to the natural lure of the huge desert mountain preserve and will increase its usefulness to the public

Roads Built

Roads are being built which will open up beautiful hidden recesses, huge rock-walled canyons, picnic areas and other points of interest hitherto inaccessible to the public. More than 10 miles of new road construction is included on the list of projects given prior preference. Additional miles, including construction of a 25-mile circular drive encircling the entire park, may also be built if the workers remain here for a sufficient length of time.

Although operation of the camp here originally was to be discontinued soon, city officials are confident that this time will be extended provided funds to continue operation of CCC camps in the nation are appropriated by the present congress.

In any event, the projects which already are certain of completion are practically sufficient to justify the $60,000 in federal funds spent to establish the camps. It is estimated that their cost, together with that of the various improvements in the park, will total $180,000.

Road Tops Peak

Included in the road projects now under way is construction of a first class 22-foot road nearly five miles in length which will ascend to the top of one of the highest peaks in the South mountain range—nearly 2,100 feet in elevation. Some remarkable scenery is visible from points along this road, particularly on the peak, from which the visitor may survey an estimated 12,000 square miles of surrounding country. This road will lead to a huge level plateau, covering nearly a square mile, where will be located a model camp or picnic area.

Construction of 15 miles of horseback or hiking trails, winding through the park is another part of the “3-C” program. These, as well as the new motor drives, will open up to visitors many interesting points and beautiful scenery, including pre-historic hieroglyphic rock writings, giant cactus forests, shaded canyons and arroyos and tall mountain summits.

Water System Built

Among the most important improvements already started is the bringing of a water supply into the park. A well already has been drilled on South Central avenue on land donated by H. Clay Parker, and a pipeline laid to the top of a peak near the north boundary of the park.

A 20,000-gallon storage reservoir is being blasted out of solid rock at the top of the peak and will be lined with concrete. From this reservoir, pipelines will be laid to several adjacent picnic grounds. Because of their elevation and distance, it will not be possible to pipe water to all the numerous picnic areas to be developed in the park.

Sites now being developed for picnic areas are located about one-fourth mile east of the CCC camps and are readily accessible to the public on existing roads which are being improved rapidly.

Park Beauty Preserved

In developing the picnic areas, every effort is made to preserve the natural beauty of the park—its lichen covered boulders, over-hanging cliffs and existing trees and plants. The areas will be equipped with rest houses, cooking ovens, stone tables, chairs and other facilities. In addition to the “concentrated” picnic areas, suitable for larger gatherings, numerous trails lead off from them into the rock covered hills where may be found scores of specially developed one or two-family picnic grounds where smaller parties may enjoy the outdoors with a feeling of privacy, though there may be other neighbors only a few score feet away.

These sites are being developed by the young workers under the direction of expert landscape foremen. D. A. Mathews is foreman of camp SP-4, and George D. Hall of camp SP-3. Much individuality has been shown by the boys themselves in the development of the picnic areas. Every effort also is made to create individuality in each particular family group picnic site. Exposure, tree growth, rock formation and views are taken into consideration at the sites.

Camps Form “Village”

When completed, with a water system, ramadas, seats and additional planting to enhance the natural beauty of the site, these areas will be a distinctive development of great recreational value.

The 3-C camp forms a miniature village, comprising more than 20 separate structures, including dormitories, mess halls, headquarters offices, recreation halls and other facilities.

Camp SP-3 is commanded by James R. Worthington, assisted by Lieut. E. M. Ellis. Camp SP-4 is commanded by Capt. Waldo V. Joyce, assisted by Lieut. J. A. Van Hardeveld. Dr. James W. Casey is resident physician for both camps.

While “to accomplish something worthwhile” is a thought carried prominently in connection with the operation of the camps, the primary consideration of the officials is “the boys,” those in charge of the projects say.

Recreation Provided

Life in the camps is more or less like a well-conducted boys club. The boys work on a 40-hour per week basis, and after working hours enjoy recreation. There are just three requirements of all who compose the personnel of the camps. These are that they keep clean; work the required number of hours and obey orders.

That life in the camps agrees with the youngsters who have enrolled under the wing of ‘Uncle Sam’ is evidenced by the fact, as determined by camp officials, that the average gain in weight of each boy since the opening of the camp has been 12 pounds. There have been practically no desertions and officials say that there have been no instances of insubordination or actual refusal to obey orders since the camps opened.

Parks Bureau Assists

While at work on field projects the youths are directed by representatives of the national parks department. The administrative and supervisory personnel for camp SP-3 includes A. O. Harris, camp superintendent, assisted by 10 subforemen.

That of camp SP-4 is headed by I. L. Pittman, with F. H. Toohey as general foreman and nine subforemen.

Plans for improvement of the park were prepared by Leslie J. Mahoney, city planning engineer. The camps were brought here largely through the efforts of S. McN. Johnston, city manager, with the co-operation of a group of influential citizens.

Phoenix mountain park was acquired by the city of Phoenix about eight years ago from the federal government. Among the leaders in the movement to set aside the area for recreational purposes was W. G. Hartranft, now chairman of the city planning and zoning board; the late Dwight B. Heard, Howard Aller and the late James C. Dobbins.

Master Endorsed Plan

The late Stephen Mather, former head of the national park service also became interested in the project and largely was instrumental in having the area set aside for Phoenix while on a visit here at the home of Mr. Heard.

An attractive building of native stone will be constructed near the entrance to the park to serve as a museum, an information headquarters for visitors and as a park caretaker’s home. Other projects in the park will include erosion control works and reforestation of denuded areas.

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