Trail in Armstrong Redwoods SNP - Guerneville CA
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) did extensive improvements at Armstrong State Park, 1933 to 1941. Over the years, CCC Companies 594, 1553. 1920, 1988 and 2916 were stationed at Camp Armstrong, SP-39 (originally known as Camp Armstrong Woods, P-804), which was located by the present entrance to the park.
The enrollees built an amphitheater, a community building (including warden’s headquarters), picnic areas with stone stoves and tables of redwood, a timber bridge, two miles of road improvements, cleared underbrush, and made general improvements to park grounds and other facilities (Goddard 1976).
Many of those features remain. The amphitheater was under renovation during a visit in December 2022. There are also several buildings near the entrance of the park that appear to be left from the CCC camp, but that has not been confirmed.
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 the 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.
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)
Paulene Goddard, "The Impact of the Works Projects Administration (WPA) in Sonoma County." M.A. Thesis. 1976.
William R. Lawson, "Achievements, Work Projects Administration, Northern California." Federal Works Agency, USGPO, 1940, p. 57.
Project originally submitted by Richard Walker on May 10, 2023.
Additional contributions by Joan Greer.
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