Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve: Amphitheater – Guerneville CA


The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) did extensive improvements at Armstrong State Park, 1933 to 1941.   

The most impressive of the CCC works is a large amphitheater, which was under renovation during a visit in December 2022.   

Many other features of the CCC’s work remain, as well, such as stone stoves, stone drinking fountains, water lines, trails and the old community center.  Some buildings near the park entrance may be left over from the CCC camp. 

In 1990, an informational plaque at the front of the park  was installed by members of the National Association of CCC Alumni, Luther Burbank Chapter 131.  But there is clearly confusion about which branch of the New Deal worked at Armstrong Redwoods. Engbeck (2002) and the Alumni Chapter credit the CCC, while a report from the Federal Works Agency regional supervisor in 1940 claimed the same work for the Works Projects Administration (WPA)(Lawson 1940).  The latter report is cited by Goddard (1976).  Our view is that it had to be the CCC, which was stationed here and worked in all other state parks at the time, while the WPA did most of its good works in towns and cities.

Curiously, the State Parks website for Armstrong Redwoods (and the identical entry in Wikipedia) say nothing about the New Deal work in the park/reserve.

Armstrong Redwoods were bought by Sonoma County in the 1920s and then gifted to the state in 1934.  After the CCC improvements, it opened as a state park in 1936.  The park was designated as a state Natural Reserve in 1964 to increase the level of protection of this small, ancient grove of redwoods.


Source notes

Joseph H. Engbeck, Jr., By the People, For the People: The Work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in California State Parks, 1933-1941. (Sacramento: California State Parks, 2002)

William R. Lawson, "Achievements, Work Projects Administration, Northern California." Federal Works Agency, USGPO, 1940, p. 57.

Paulene Goddard,  "The Impact of the Works Projects Administration (WPA) in Sonoma County." M.A. Thesis. 1976.

Project originally submitted by Shaina Potts on May 10, 2023.
Additional contributions by Susan Ives, Nina Lowrey.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

17020 Armstrong Woods Rd
Guerneville, CA 95446

Coordinates: 38.5484, -123.005

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