Wrangler Trail Stories
Story telling is a great cowboy tradition that is quickly fading away. But not here. The STR wrangler staff continues to keep this tradition alive. In fact, this is one of the most important aspects of your job!
Not comfortable telling stories? Well, here’s your chance to expand your horizons!
If you are not comfortable telling jokes and stories, then we suggest that before you arrive:
1. Read these stories, and make an outline on an index card to keep in your shirt poscket.
2. Practice, practice, practice. What are family, friends, neighbors, room-mates and complete strangers for? These people were put in your life for a reason – to listen to your story!
3. Watch what happens as you tell your yarn – these people are not paying attention to you – they are listening to the story.
4. Never, never, never let the facts get in the way of good story!
5. There are four kinds of stories that you are expected to tell:
1. trail stories (some outlined here),
2. campfire stories (which you will learn when you get here (including some standard greats: Falling Rock, Florist Friers, Lunch with Pancho Villa, Singing in the Rain),
3. clean jokes
4. cowboy poetry
6. You are alwways welcome to write/steal your own stories, either for the trail or the campfire.
Note: This presentation is MANDATORY for ALL guests to hear when they first enter the National Forest. Memorize this.
Welcome to Roosevelt National Forest
* National Forest, not National Park
1. administered by Dept of Interior
2. created for recreation
3. Rocky Mountain National Park
1. Administered by Dept of Agriculture
2. Created for
1. Protection of Wildlife
2. Protection of watershed
3. Protection of Trees which protect watershed and wildlife
* We are guests here, by special permit.
* This is a privilege, not a right.
* We practice Minimal Impact Ethic
1. we leave nothing (You will not see trash anywhere.)
2. Bathroom in a bag
3. Be VERY careful to pack your trash
4. We take nothing (except we remove ANY/ALL trash)
5. Leave the pretty flowers and rocks.
* We do NOT chase wildlife or cattle.
* We may stop to do trail maintenance.
* Joke: Why is … called Dept of Interior? Shouldn’t it be called….
Jeep Trail History
* Built around 1935, during Great Depression, by the CCC
* Civilian Conservation Corps
* Young people from all over the country, but mostly city kids from the east, like [list cities that guests are from]
* More than 500,000 teen aged boys and girls.
* Mostly age 16-18, but some as young as 10 and 12 snuck in.
* Built fire roads like this, also planted trees for erosion control, telephone lines, dams, and hundreds of other projects in every state.
* Paid 25 cents/day – at end of week, worker was given 25 cents, and the remaining dollar sent home to his family.
* This is credited with saving literally hundreds of thousands of children from starvation.
Gate Without a Gate
* This area called “gate without a gate”
* Possibly because there is no gate in the gate?
* Interested in American history?
* During the Civil War, nothing happened here…
* See the toes?
* We always though that this was a natural formation.
* Professor from Boulder told us that this was actually carved by Paleolithic Indians.
* Apparently the foot was sacred to them…
* You may also see other artifacts from their time here – like the little signs with blue dots on them.
* The blue dot identified these trees as sacred.
* Boys, do NOT pee on the trees with blue dot tags…
Bubba’s Hill and the Halliday Place [note small children]
* In the 1880’s the Halliday family lived in this valley.
* Point out barn/house foundations.
* In 1886, Mrs. Halliday suspected Mr. Halliday of cheating on her (possibly with Lady Katie?).
* She has a choice:
o -she could spend a week to ride to the circuit court in Denver, wait for court to be in session, file for divorce, and then ride back – a process that might take weeks, or
o -she could use some of the arsenic that was left here when the gold rush ended.
* One morning, Mrs. Halliday added arsenic to Mr. Halliday’s coffee cup, and then went out to feed the chickens.
* Unfortunately, their son, Edward grabbed the coffee cup and glugged it down on his way out the door, and immediately died a horrible death in the front yard.
* He is buried down in that valley. Ben DeLatour put a up a grave stone for him in the 1950’s. Now private land, and not accessable to the neighbors.
* I was told that Mrs. Halliday was then tried, found guilty, and taken to the Laramie Territorial Prison, where she was hanged.
* I visited the prison, and the docent and I went through the census books – only 9 women were ever incarcerated, and non named Halliday. The docent also explained that back in those days, if you were going to hang someone, you would just hang them – -not transport them 60 miles to the prison.
* So what happened to her? Don’t know – someday will research.
Lady Moon’s Overlook [edit for small children!]
* Gratten Catherine Lawder born on ship May 17, 1865.
* Her parents were emigrating from Ireland (county Wicklow) to US during the great potato famine.
* Parents settled in St. Louis.
* Died when she was 12
* Gratten moved to this area in 1883 (age 18)
* Worked at Norman’s Elkhorn Lodge and the Log Cabin Sage Coach Stop & Resort as laundry woman, parlor maid, waitress.
* [We understand that she also provided other services to select guests.]
* The Log Cabin Stage Coach Stop was about 1½ miles east of us on Red Feather Lakes Rd., at the intersection with Boy Scout Rd. – no buildings left, but still on some maps
* Married Frank Garten, a blacksmith, in 1887, and lived here.
* Took in laundry from the Ashley Grange Cowboy School in LaPort.
o This school taught eastern and European young men how to be cowboys.
o This was a cowboy school that taught roping and riding skills to remittance men.
* House is long gone, but that is the barn that Frank built in 1886.
* This was known as the Cold Spring Park ranch.
* Now lets leave Gratten with Frank here for a minute.
* Also in the mid 1880’s. a young man by the name of Cecil Moon arrived in this area.
* Cecil was born Sept 2, 1867, the fourth son of an English Baronette – Coventry, Warwickshire [memorize this place – the Brits will know it!].
* Cecil was a remittance man – sent here to find his fortune, with a monthly remittance check – what we would now call an allowance.
* History of the west is full of stories of remittance men.
o These were the second and third sons of European aristocrats. The first son inherited the title, the businesses, the land and the fortune. Other sons usually bought officer commissions in the army and created their own import business while overseas (India) and in 1880’s America. OR
o these were the sons of rich eastern families who had finished high school, didn’t go to college, and didn’t have to work – so they partied. Mom & Dad would send these boys out west to get them out the house, and would send a monthly remittance to keep them away!
* Cecil first arrived in Denver in 1885 to an administrative job that his father had arranged for him – one that was appropriate to his station in life (a secretary of his grandfather’s mining company). He hated it, quit, and found a job digging ditches for one of the canal companies. He also signed up with the Ashley Grange Cowboy School.
* Cecil took to the cowboy life – he was an excellent horseman, and he understood the ranching business.
* He was what we call a “rootin’ tootin’, armpit scratchin’, spitten’ on the floor kind of cowboy.”
* By 1888, he was managing two or three different ranch’s herds. This was possible back then, as these were the days before fences – different herds often shared the same pastures. Calves were branded to the correct herd before they weaned.
* In early 1888, Cecil took sick with a fever and was bedridden. He hired a local girl to nurse and housekeep for him while he recovered – you guessed it. He hired Gratton Garten (Gratten Catherine Lawder Garten). They fell in love, Gratten divorced Frank (after only one year of marriage!), and married Cecil July 9, 1888. Gratten begins to use her middle name, Catherine. They honeymoon in England. Catherine brings her horse, Moses.
* As you might guess, Cecil’s mother was not overly fond of Catherine. If you are English aristocracy, the last kind of girl you want your son to bring home is poor Irish trash. And Katie was just a bit rough around the edges.
* Also, mama did not trust the new bride – she had this gut feeling that this young lady was going to take Cecil to the cleaners.
* 1899 Cecil inherits – this makes him a rootin’ tootin’ armpit scratchin’ spittin’ on the floor kind of cowboy – and they’re off to England a second time for him to receive his baronetcy. Catherine again brings Moses her horse.
* Over the course of the 21 years of their marriage, Cecil proves to be a very successful businessman/rancher.
* Brings in cattle from all over the world, raises different herds in different canyons, and practices this new-fangled science called genetics, moving bulls from herd to herds, and studying how well the offspring adapt to the mountains
* Cecil made a lot of money.
o Cecil also liked to gamble (and drink). Cecil lost lots of money, Catherine kept the cash box.
o Every time Cecil bought property, he and Catherine would party (they both liked their whiskey). Cecil would get drunk, and sign over the deed of the property to Catherine.
o She owned everything.
* In 1909, Cecil sued Catherine – asking the district court of Denver to “force his wife to return to him some of the assets that he had signed over to her.” The court refused – his signatures on bills of sale were valid, even if he was drunk.
* As you might guess, this put a damper on the marriage. Catherine allowed Cecil to live in the house, in the kitchen with the chickens, as long as he was willing to do all of the cooking for all of the ranch hands.
o Chickens in the kitchen? Yup. Lady katie kept 21 dogs in the house, and kept her horse, Moses in the parlor on cold winter nights… think about this for a moment… think about cleaning the carpt…
* They were divorced soon after. Lady Moon has the distinction of being the first woman west of Mississippi forced to pay alimony to her husband.
* Cecil back to England, and then New Zeeland, remarries, builds another fortune. Dies happily in 1951 at age 83.
* Katie then spends the next 20 years partying away the fortune.
o Katie liked men. Cowboys, Indians, soldiers, old, young, short, tall, fat, skinny.
o Katie used to throw parties for her gentlemen friends – the parties would last 3 and 4 days at a time!
o The women in the area were not all that fond of Katie and her parties – this was a very conservative, heavily Mormon and Baptist. County.
o Katie would serve Maine lobster, Gulf Coast Shrimp, and Pacific Salmon – typical “new money” Irish Trash extravagance.
* Katie would also serve Irish whiskey – she distilled it herself.
o Starting the early 1890’s we had prohibition in Larimer County (US prohibition 1920?)
o Katie made her own whiskey – LARGE quantities – which she sold at her parties.
o But she was never caught.
o Until one night, at one of her parties, Katie was dancing, tripped and fell. When she fell, her legs went “CLANK!”
o Katie’s pantaloons had pockets, from hips to ankles! She carried many pints of whiskey.
o When making a sale, Katie could simply reach under her skirt and immediately give you your pint.
o Katie was arrested
o At trial, she was acquitted for lack of evidence. The arresting deputies were too intimidated to reach under her skirts to take a bottle from her panties!
* Now there’s a rumor that Katherine developed uterine cancer and died in 1926. There’s even a grave stone in the Mt. Olivet cemetery in Denver with her name on it. But we know that that is a cover story for what really happened.
* What really happened is that one day Catherine simply disappeared. No one could find her. After searching around her hotel (Livermore Hotel), the Sheriffs Deputies went up to the old barn at the Cold Spring ParkRanch. In the dimly lit barn they found the body of a woman… chopped up in pieces… with no head…
* Was it Catherine? Impossible to tell. But who would harm Lady Katie? Well….
o Could be that a couple of old boyfriends got into a fight and she might have gotten in the middle….
o Or maybe she was selling liquor and had a dissatisfied customer (not likely!)…
o or maybe ol’ Cecil came around – by 1926 Katie was broke and no longer paying alimony…
o or maybe any of the women who lived within 20 miles might have dropped by….
o Who knows….
* Anyway, if you see lights dancing in the woods at night, might just be Katie wandering around!
* Now I have never see the ghost of Catherine Moon, but I’ve been told by guests that they have!
* While walking at night in the trees, more than one guest has been confronted by a very polite, short she was only 4’11” when she had a head and much shorter without…), with a thick Irish brogue, asking:
o “Excuse me dearies, but have you seen my head? I seem to have lost it somewhere… If you see my head, I would be ever so grateful …
Other Lady Katie Stories:
* Katie had a favorite horse – his name was Moses.
* Katie went to Europe three times, and she brought Moses with her each time.
* Katie felt the barn was too cold for Moses, so in the winter, she stabled him in the parlor – can you imagine the smell? She also kept around 20 dogs in the house.
* Katie was the first person in the area to own a steam powered automobile. She bought it from a catelog, and picked it up at the Laramie trail station. She then drove it home, where it spooked every animal for 10 miles. She parked it in teh barn, and never took it out again…
* Ben De La Tour was a sort of adopted nephew to Katie. We believe that they were not involved “you know what I mean…” but were acually like family. When Katie was diagnosed with cancer in 1924, she had pretty much spent the entire fortune that Cecil had made, and she was selling her last properties and her jewelry. Ben then bought a totally useless piece of property, about 5,600 acres directly south of us (our south fence line). Ben tried to sell this propert twice, both times to Ft. Collins churches, and both times the churches defaulted on the mortage. When Ben die in 1959, he willed the land to the Boy Scouts, who named the camp after him.
Other Useless but possibly entertaining stories
Now a bit of Larimer County history…who was Lady Moon? Catherine (Katie) Gratton Lawder was born to Irish parents on a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 1865. She was orphaned when she was 12 and lived for 6 years with her Aunt in Iowa.
When she was 18 she came to Colorado and found work in the Elkhorn Lodge near the now ghost mining town of Manhattan between Rustic and Red Feather Lakes. She met and married Frank Gartman, a miner who was several years older than she. Subsequently an English nobleman, Cecil Ernest Moon, came to Colorado seeking mining treasure; he enrolled in a ranching school in Katie’s neighborhood. Cecil became ill and Katie was hired to care for him. Romance blossomed, Katie divorced Frank, and in 1888 she and Cecil were married.
From that point the true history becomes somewhat muddled because her life story became fictionalized in a novel and it’s unclear what the sequencing and details of actual events became. But the common story that’s recited is that soon after their marriage they went to England, where she insisted on wearing her western riding and other odd clothing and refused to conform to the aristocratic expectations of the family. She was not well received, as she was boisterous and ill mannered. They soon returned to Larimer County.
Sir Cecil inherited the baronetcy when his grandfather died in 1899 and they again returned to England so Cecil could receive the title; they remained for a couple of years and then returned to Colorado. They acquired a ranch and mining property near Manhattan, while living for a time in Denver. They again traveled to England, but Katie returned to Colorado within a year while Sir Cecil remained there.
She is reported to have spent much of her time on the ranch drinking whiskey and hanging out with the ranch hands. Lord Cecil, an Oxford graduate, preferred time reading in his library. Sir Cecil eventually filed for divorce and sued Katie to recover funds he claimed she owed him. After the divorce, Katie could not legally use the title “Lady” she was so proud of, but she expected the local community to refer to her as Lady Moon, and they obliged. She remained flamboyant until her death in 1926.
* North Overland Trail (Rout 287)
* Plains indians included a number of groups of nomadic families: Soux, Pawnee, Cheyenne
* Ft. Collins, Ft. Morgan, Ft. Laramie, and about 30 other forts were established to protect the white settlers, trappers, and gold miners from the plains Indians, who were not happy with us.
* Up here in the mountains the local Indians were Utes.
o Utes counted coup (honor and prestigue) by thievery, not by battle.
o A man’s position in the tribe was determined by the number of horses, wives, and “stuff” that he had stolen from others.
o During the civil war years and immediately after, any officer that showed any competence at all was conscripted to the war out east.
o The forts out here in the west were staffed by incompetents, cowards, and alcoholics.
o The Utes used to visit the forts regularly as “friendlies” and steal the forts blind.
o Soldiers out here often had to go back to the tribes and beg for food (the food that often came from the fort!).
o The Utes continue their tradition of thievery – they now own casinos here in Colorado and New Mexico!
Roosevelt’s Tree Army – A Not-So-Brief History of the Civilian Conservation Corps
Note: You cannot possibly memorize this story! But I am unable to edit it! Please enjoy this fascinating slice of our history, and create your own story or stories from this material.
* CCC enrollees throughout the country were credited with renewing the nation’s decimated forests by planting an estimated three billion trees from 1933 to 1942.
* The 1932 Presidential election was more a cry for help from a desperate people near panic as it was an election in a “landslide” vote, the nation turned to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democratic party searching for an end to the rampant unemployment and economic chaos that gripped the country.
* They weren’t disappointed. Accepting the Presidential nomination on July 1, 1932, New York Governor Roosevelt planned a fight against soil erosion and declining timber resources, utilizing the unemployed of large urban areas. Professional foresters and interested layman raised these aims.
* In what would later be called “The Hundred Days,” President Roosevelt revitalized the faith of the nation with several measures, one of which was the Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) Act, more commonly known as the Civilian Conservation Corps.
* With this action, he brought together two wasted resources, the young men and the land, in an effort to save both.
* The President wasted no time: He called the 73rd Congress into Emergency Session on March 9, 1933, to hear and authorize his program. He proposed to recruit thousands of unemployed young men, enroll them in a peacetime army, and send them into battle against destruction and erosion of our natural resources.
* Before it was over, over three million young men engaged in a massive salvage operation, the most popular experiment of the New Deal.
* The strongest reaction to the proposed CCC program was from organized labor. Its leaders feared a loss of jobs that could be filled with union members. They also looked with alarm at the involvement of the Army believing it might lead to regimentation of labor.
* Senate Bill 5.598 was introduced in March 27, was through both houses of Congress on the President’s desk to be signed on March 31, 1933.
Roosevelt promised that, granted emergency powers, he would have 250,000 men in camps by the end of July, 1933. The speed with which the plan moved through proposal, authorization, implementation and operation was a miracle of cooperation among all branches and agencies of the federal government.
* It was a mobilization of men, material and transportation on a scale never before known in time of peace. From FDR’s inauguration on March 4, 1933, to the induction of the first enrollee on April 7, only 37 days had elapsed.
* Logistics was an immediate problem. The bulk of young unemployed youth was concentrated in the East, while most of the work projects were in the western parts of the country.
* The Army was the only agency with the slightest capability of merging the two and was in the program from the beginning. Although not totally unprepared, the Army nevertheless devised new plans and methods to meet the challenge.
* Mobilizing the nation’s transportation system, it moved thousands of enrollees from induction centers to working camps. It used its own regular and reserve officers, together with regulars of the Coast Guard, Marine Corps and /Navy to temporarily command camps and companies.
* The Army was not the only organization to evoke extraordinary efforts to meet the demands of this emergency. Agriculture and Interior were responsible for planning and organizing work to be performed in every state of the union. The Department of Labor, through its state and local relief offices, was responsible for the selection and enrollment of applicants.
* All four agencies performed their minor miracles in coordination with a National Director of ECW, Robert Fechner, a union vice-president, personally picked by FDR and appointed in accordance with Executive Order 6202, dated April 5, 1933.
* The administration of the CCC was unprecedented. The same Executive Order that authorized the program and appointed Fechner also established an Advisory Council. Composed of representatives of the Secretaries of War, Labor, and Agriculture and Interior, the Council served for the duration. It had no book of rules. There were none.
* Never before had there been an agency like the CCC. It was an experiment in top-level management designed to prevent red tape from strangling the newborn agency. Fechner, and later James McEntee, would have their differences with the Council, but unquestionably, each contributed greatly to the success of the CCC.
* Fechner and the Council were aware that the CCC was FDR’s pet project. This attachment, in time, complicated the Director’s operations. Technically, Fechner held complete authority. However, the President retained final approval of certain aspects. Decisions as to the location of camps often stagnated on the President’s desk until he found time to act.
* Nevertheless, Fechner proved to be an honest, fairly capable, although often reluctant administrator. However, he was the man for the job, and Roosevelt never regretted the appointment. The program had great public support. Young men flocked to enroll. A poll of Republicans supported it by 67 percent, and another 95 percent of Californians were for it. Colonel McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, and an implacable hater of Roosevelt, gave the CCC his support.
* The Soviet Union praised the program… perhaps it saw a touch of socialism. A Chicago judge thought the CCC was largely responsible for a 55 percent reduction in crime by the young men of that day.
* By April 1934, the Corps, now on a firm foundation, faced the beginning of its second year with near universal approval and praised of the country. This young, inexperienced $30-a-month labor battalion had met and exceeded all expectations. The impact of mandatory, monthly $25.00 allotment checks to families was felt in the economy of the cities and towns all across the nation. More than $72,000,000 in allotments was making life a little easier for the people at home.
* In communities close to the camps, local purchases averaging about $5,000 monthly staved off failure of many small businesses. The man on the radio could, for a change, say, “There’s good news tonight.” News from the camps was welcome and good. The enrollees were working hard, eating hearty and gaining weight, while they improved millions of acres of federal and state lands, and parks. New roads were built, telephone lines strung and the first of millions of trees that would be planted had gone into the soil.
* Glowing reports of the accomplishments of the Corps were printed in major newspapers, even in some that bitterly opposed other phases of the New Deal. President Roosevelt, well pleased with his “baby,” announced his intention to extend the Corps for at least another year. The Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 began the best years of its life. Behind it, for the most part, were early days of drafty tents, ill-fitting uniforms and haphazard work operations. Individual congressmen and senators were quick to realize the importance of the camps to their constituencies and political futures.
* Soon, letters, telegrams and messages flooded the Director’s office most of them demanding the building of new camps in their states. Eventually there would be camps in all states and in Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. By the end of 1935, there were over 2,650 camps in operation in all states. California had more than 150. Delaware had three. CCC enrollees were performing more than 100 kinds of work.
* Enrollees numbering 505,782 occupied these camps. Other categories, such as officers, supervisors, educational advisors and administrators swelled the total to more than 600,000 persons. Probably the greatest concentration of CCC personnel was in the Sixth Civilian Conservation Corps District of the First Corps Area, in the Winooski River Valley, Vermont, in December, 1933. It covered a front of about 20 miles from Middlesex to East Barre and five miles in depth from Montpelior to Wrightsville. Headquarters in Montpelior, with 28 work companies and one supply company – 26 white and three black and all veterans of the Spanish-American and World War – together with their officers, enlisted personnel and supervisors totally more than 5,300 persons, occupied four large camps.
* The Emergency Conservation Work Act made no mention of either education or training. They were not officially introduced until 1937 by the Act that formally created a Civilian Conservation Corps. However, late in 1933, after a number of recommendations were made, President Roosevelt appointed Clarence S. Marsh, the first Director of Education, By 1934, a formal program had begun. It was destined to be controversial and criticized throughout its existence. Even Fechner was never too enthusiastic about the program, suspecting that at camp level it might interfere with the work program.
* This did not materialize, as only in the later years of the CCC was training authorized during normal working hours. Ultimately, the success – or failure – of the educational program was determined by the initiative and qualifications of the Educational Advisor stationed in each camp. The attitude and cooperation of the camp commander was also important. These programs varied considerably from camp to camp, both in efficiency and results. However, throughout the Corps, more than 40,000 illiterates were taught to read and write. Since most of this training was on the enrollee’s own time, undoubtedly each gained that for which he worked the hardest, be it high school diploma, learning to type, or wood carving.
* Although relief of unemployed youth had been the original objective of the ECW, two important modifications became necessary early in 1933. The first extended enlistment coverage to about 14,000 American Indians whose economic straits were deplorable and had been largely ignored. Before the CCC was terminated, more than 80,000 Native Americans were paid to help reclaim the land that had once been their exclusive domain.
* The second modification authorized the enrollment of about 25,000 older local men (called LEMS) who, because of their experience or special skills, were vital to train and protect the unskilled enrollee in his transition from city greenhorn to expert handler of axe and shovel. Demands of nearby communities that their own unemployed be eligible for hire were also satisfied. Some complaints of “political patronage” emerged in this endeavor, but no serious scandals ever developed.
* The appearance of a second Bonus Army in Washington in May, 1933, brought about another unplanned modification when the President issued Executive Order 6129, dated May 11, 1933, authorizing the immediate enrollment of about 25,000 veterans of the Spanish American War and WW1, with no age or marital restrictions. These men were first housed in separate camps and performed duties in conservation suited to their age and physical condition. While not exactly what the veterans had in mind when they marched on Washington, it was an offer that most accepted. A total of nearly 250,000 got belated opportunity to rebuild lives disrupted by earlier serve to their country. The years 1935-36 witnessed not only a peak in the size and popularity of the Corps but revealed the first major attempt to change a system which had proved to be workable and successful since early in 1933.
* However, before this challenge developed, Congress authorized funded and extended the existence of the CCC until March 1935, with a new ceiling of 600,000 enrollees. This action left little doubt that the “grass roots” and their representatives were more than satisfied with the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
* At first, it appeared there would be no problems in reaching the 600,000-man ceiling. However, a new name had appeared among Roosevelt’s advisors. Harry Hopkins established new and uncoordinated ground rules for the selection of enrollees. His procedure, based on relief rolls, effectively ruined the quota systems in use by all the states. Fechner protested violently, and the hassle that developed slowed down the recruiting efforts and generated so much confusion that by September 1935, there were only about 500,000 men located in 2,600 camps. Never again, during the remainder of the life of the Corps, were there as many men in as many camps.
* While Fechner was still struggling with the changes required by the failure to meet the 600,000-strength figure, he was struck by another change in strategy that spelled disaster to him. Roosevelt quietly informed him to expect a drastic reduction in the number of camps and enrollees in an effort to balance the federal budget in an election year. Roosevelt, a master politician, was aware that a major cut in government spending would be an important selling point in this campaign for re-election.
* However, in 1936 there were other factors involved that he either ignored or had underestimated. Election year or not, Roosevelt’s proposed budget reform invited trouble. As soon as the proposed reduction was announced the floodgates burst, and Congress was besieged with protests.
* The Corps was at the height of its popularity. No one wanted camps closed, especially those in his area. Republicans and Democrats alike frantically sought a reversal of Roosevelt’s policy. The President was adamant. The plan would begin, he insisted, in January, 1936. By June, he wished approximately 300,000 men in about 1,400 camps.
* Coincidentally, about this time a few camps previously scheduled to close, did so. This action brought another deluge of mail. Congress, sparked by House Democrats, was in open revolt and was determined to take joint action to maintain the Corps at its current strength. Roosevelt and his advisors finally recognized the threat of such an action as a threat to their whole legislative program and wisely called a retreat. He advised Fechner that the proposal had been dropped and that all existing camps and personnel would remain in being. His own party had refused to let him economize in an election year at the expense of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
* Despite a few problems, the year 1936 was a success for the CCC. The projects completed had reached high levels, all faithfully recorded and reported to FDR in Fechner’s yearly report. It was a proud record, added to each year, so that in 1942, there was hardly a state that couldn’t boast of permanent projects left as markers in the passage of “Roosevelt’s Tree Army.”
* Some of the specific accomplishments of the Corps during its existence included 3,470 fire towers erected, 97,000 miles of fire roads built, 4,235,000 man-days devoted to fighting fires, and more than three billion trees planted.
* Five hundred camps were under the control of the Soil Conservation Service, performing erosion control. Erosion was ultimately arrested on more than twenty million acres. The CCC made outstanding contributions in the development of recreational facilities in national, state, county and metropolitan parks.
* There were 7,153,000 enrollee man-days expended on other related conservation activities. These included protection of range for the Grazing Service, protecting the natural habitats of wildlife, stream improvement, restocking of fish and building small dams for water conservation. Eighty-three camps in 15 western states were assigned 45 projects of this nature. Drainage was another important phase of land conservation and management. There were 84,400,000 acres of good agricultural land dependent on man-made drainage systems, an area equal to the combined states of Ohio, Indiana and Iowa. Forty-six camps were assigned to this work under the direction of the U.S. Bureau of Agriculture Engineering. Indian enrollees did much of this work. Residents of southern Indiana will never forget the emergency work of the CCC during the flooding of the Ohio River in 1937. The combined strength of camps in the area saved countless lives and much property in danger of being swept away. They contributed 1,240,000 man-days of emergency work in floods of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. Other disasters in which the CCC participated were the floods of Vermont and New York in 1937 and the New England hurricane of 1938. During blizzards of 1936-37 in Utah, 1,000,000 sheep were stranded and in danger of starvation. CCC enrollees braved the drifts and saved the flocks.
* The greatest tragedy to members of the Civilian Conservation Corps occurred during the Labor Day hurricane of 1935,one of the most violent storms on record. Three CCC camps on the Florida Keys had a complement of 684 veterans. Less than one-third were on holiday leave when winds of 150 to 200 miles per hour struck the area, knocking out connecting bridges and rail lines. A rescue train sent from Miami was derailed before reaching its destination. The official report listed 44 identified dead, 238 missing or unidentified dead, and 106 injured. Many were literally sandblasted to death, with clothing and skin rasped from their bodies.
* Few records were kept of the sociological impact of the 1930s on the nation’s young men. Many had never been beyond the borders of their state, and others had not even left home. Yet, many would never return. They would choose to remain in towns and villages near their camps. They married, raised families and put down their roots, much as had other young men in the migratory movements of past years. Those who did return, many with brides, came back as successful products of an experiment in living that had renewed and stored their confidence in themselves and in their country.
* The Civilian Conservation Corps approached maturity in 1937. Hundreds of enrollees had passed through the system and returned home to boast of their experiences, while hundreds more demonstrated their satisfaction by extending their enlistments. Life in the camps had settled down to almost a routine, with work the order of the day, every day, except Sunday.
* But, after the evening meal the camps came to life as well over a hundred men relaxed and had fun. One building in every camp was a combined dayroom, recreation center and canteen, or PX. In this building, amid the din of Ping-Pong, poker, innumerable bottles of “coke”, and occasional beers, were fostered friendships that exist to this day.
* This, then, was the Civilian Conservation Corps that FDR tried to make permanent in April, 1937. There were many reasons why Congress refused to establish the Corps as a permanent agency. At the time, most of them were probably valid. But never were disenchantment, or failure to recognize the success of the organization, a topic of debate. To the contrary, in a vote of confidence, Congress extended its life as an independent, funded agency for an additional two years.
* Conceivably Congress still regarded the CCC as a temporary relief organization with an uncertain future, rather than as a bold, progressive solution to the continuing problem of dissipation of our national resources. Whatever the reason, this stunning contradiction was a personal defeat for the President and a punitive restatement of congressional independence.
* Since his appointment during the hectic days of 1933, Fechner had been able to control the operation of the CCC with but relatively minor challenges to his authority. However, 1939 would bring about a major challenge at a time when he was struggling with internal problems brought about by changing conditions both in the United States and Europe.
* The storm clouds forming over England and France had already impacted upon the economy of the United States with the result that, as jobs became more plentiful, applications for the CCC declined. But, again it was a sudden change in administration policy that generated the most heat for Fechner and the Civilian Conservation Corps.
* One of Roosevelt’s long-range plans was the reorganization of the administrative functions of some federal agencies. Congress had been reluctant to approve such a move until early in 1939. After much debate, they finally authorized a modified proposal. The Federal Security Agency (FSA) was created to consolidate several offices, service and boards under one Director.
* The CCC lost its status as an independent agency and was brought into the new organization. Fechner was furious, especially when he learned the Director, FSA, would have authority over him. Appeals to the President were futile as FDR believed the consolidation was desirable. In an angry protest, Fechner submitted his resignation. He withdrew it later, probably at FDR’s request.
* This may have been a mistake as Fechner had been in poor health for some time. Early in December, he was stricken by a massive heart attack and died a few weeks later on New Year’s Eve. The Civilian Conservation Corps began a year of change in 1940. The death of Fechner was a severe blow coming at a time when the war in Europe was emerging as the subject of greatest concern to Roosevelt and the Congress.
* John T. McEntee, appointed by the President to carry on as a Director, was as knowledgeable as Fechner, having been his assistant since the beginning. He was an entirely different personality without the conciliatory talents of his predecessor, and none of his patience. His appointment, strongly opposed by Harold Ickes, another short-tempered individual, increased the friction between the Department of Interior and Director’s office and was typical of the problems McEntee inherited and would generate.
* He served in a different, uncertain atmosphere and received faint praise for his efforts. The Corps itself continued to be popular. Another election year attempt by the President to reduce its strength precipitated a reaction reminiscent of the congressional revolt of 1936.
* Despite the well-meaning attempt at economy, Congress, with an eye to the folks back home, added $50 million to the CCC’s 1940-41 appropriation and the Corps remained at its current strength of about 300,000 enrollees. Congress would never again be as generous. Other major problems were developing within Congress, most related to the defense of the country, and, inevitably, with each crisis, the priority and prestige of the CCC suffered.
* Those congressmen who had opposed FDR and all of his “New Deal” from the beginning, gained strength, some even calling for termination of the Corps. By late summer, 1941, it was obvious the Corps was in serious trouble. Lack of applicants, desertion and the number of enrollees leaving for jobs had reduced the Corps to fewer than 200,000 men in about 900 camps.
* There were also disturbing signs that public opinion had been slowly changing. Major newspapers that had long defended and supported the Corps were now questioning the necessity of retaining the CCC when unemployment had practically disappeared. Most agreed there was still work to be done, but they insisted defense came first. Pearl Harbor had shaken the country to its very core, and it soon became obvious that, in a national dedicated to war, any federal project not directly associated with the war effort was in trouble. The joint committee of Congress authorized by the 1941-42 appropriations bill was in session investigating all federal agencies to determine which ones, if any, were essential to the war effort. The CCC, no exception, came under review late in 1941. The findings of the committee was a surprise to no one. The major report recommended the Civilian Conservation Corps be abolished by July 1, 1942.
* The CCC lived on for a few more months but the end was inevitable. Technically the Corps was never abolished. It was far simpler for Congress just to refuse it any additional money. This the House did in June, 1942, by a narrow vote of 158 to 151. The Senate voted twice and then Vice-President Henry Wallace, to break the tie, voted to fund the CCC. It was a valiant effort, but it didn’t work. The Senate-House conference committee compromise finished it by concurring in the House action in return for $8 million to liquidate the agency.
* The full Senate confirmed the action by voice vote and the Civilian Conservation Corps moved into the pages of history.
* CCC enrollees throughout the country were credited with renewing the nation’s decimated forests by planting an estimated three billion trees from 1933 to 1942.
Just FYI: Manhattan
* Manhattan is a ghost town located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in northwestern Larimer County, Colorado, United States. The town was founded in 1886 as a gold mining camp, during the height of the Colorado Silver Boom.
* The town never experienced great prosperity, however, and had largely vanished by the early 20th century. The town was largely dismantled in the 1930s, and virtually nothing remains of it today.
* The early Colorado Gold Rush of 1859 had largely bypassed Larimer County, at the northern end of the Front Range in northern Colorado. However in August 1886 two experienced prospectors of the Fort Collins Mining Company, Isaac R. Blevins and John DuBois, discovered gold in the creeks north of the Poudre.
* News of the discovery brought a flood of prospectors to the area, and by October of that year, 125 claims had been recorded. The camp had a population of approximately 100, most living in tents. The camp included a hotel, meat market, blacksmith shop, general store, livery stable, and saloon.
* The Fort Collins Courier reported that month that the area had “well-defined veins”, with free milling ore containing gold and silver. A test sample brought back to Fort Collins tested nearly 800 USD per ton.
* Despite the promise of riches, local businessmen in Fort Collins were largely skeptical and reluctant to back further mining enterprises in the area. Nevertheless, by November, enough capital had been raised to begin mining.
* The following year in 1887, the town population stabilized. The early gold mining operations brought modest success, despite the lack of a mother lode. Based on initial optimism, a town plat and surveying were completed, with the expectation that the town would soon grow from several hundred to 5,000 and would rival Fort Collins.
* The inability of the miners to find a rich lode, coupled with the increasing costs as the mines were sunk deeper, severely eroded the profitability of the operations. During the next two years capital was difficult to raise, and the population declined. Transportation was a continuing difficulty, as the town was accessible only by steep roads. Optimism swept the town again in 1890 with the discovery of a vein that assayed 420 USD per ton. The town population grew once again, and a schoolhouse was built with an enrollment of 20 students. The years 1890 to 1892 saw the height of the town.
* In 1892, with the mines reaching 100 feet in depth, the town suffered its first mining disaster, killing two well-respected miners. In 1893 it was discovered that the gold concentrations were diminishing as the mine shafts deepened. By 1896 many miners were selling their claims, and production and transportation costs were making the remaining operations largely unprofitable. The town population had dwindled to 50 prospectors. An unexpected discovery of gold along a bend in the Poudre River that year again revived the town, and by 1898, the population had risen back to nearly 300. The optimism quickly tapered off, however, and the population declined again, with only small occasional strikes to keep up the hopes of those who remained. After the promise of a gold strike in 1911 faded, the town was largely abandoned. In 1930, the Civilian Conservation Corps set up a camp near the site (by then within the Roosevelt National Forest, erecting several new temporary structures. In 1933, the site was completely dismantled by order of United States Forest Service.
Just FYI: Red Feather Lakes, Colorado
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
* Red Feather Lakes is located at 40°48’28?N 105°34’43?W? / ?40.80778°N 105.57861°W? / 40.80778; -105.57861 (40.807820, -105.578641).
* According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 37.2 square miles (96.4 km²), of which, 36.7 square miles (95.0 km²) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.4 km²) of it (1.48%) is water.
* As of the census of 2000, there were 525 people, 262 households, and 175 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 14.3 people per square mile (5.5/km²). There were 1,106 housing units at an average density of 30.2/sq mi (11.6/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 96.95% White, 0.95% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.19% from other races, and 1.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.29% of the population.
* There were 262 households out of which 14.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.5% were married couples living together, 2.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.2% were non-families. 27.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.00 and the average family size was 2.40.
* In the CDP the population was spread out with 13.0% under the age of 18, 3.0% from 18 to 24, 18.7% from 25 to 44, 40.4% from 45 to 64, and 25.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 54 years. For every 100 females there were 97.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.0 males.
* The median income for a household in the CDP was $33,527, and the median income for a family was $40,714. Males had a median income of $36,250 versus $43,333 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $19,231. About 3.2% of families and 8.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.7% of those under age 18 and 9.5% of those age 65 or over.