Big Basin State Park Visitors Center
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) installed a camp at Big Basin, California’s first state park (1901), and built a variety of facilities for public recreation.
Big Basin was saved through the efforts of Sempervirens Club (now Fund), as one of the last and largest groves of giant coast redwoods left in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
CCC men built the park headquarters (1936), an amphitheater of redwood logs, campgrounds, other park buildings and miles of trails, and probably roads and water lines, as well. For 75 years, those facilities remained virtually unchanged (one footbridge across the creek was replaced in the early 2000s), to the delight of millions of visitors.
In mid-August 2020, a wildfire started by lightning burned through the park and destroyed most of the old facilities.
https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/735/files/interpretive%20facilities%20with%20icons.pdf; Family archive of Kate Guenther.
Rogers, Paul. 2020. "Wildfire destroys historic buildings at Big Basin State Park, fate of redwoods unknown," San Jose Mercury News, August 20.
Yaryan, Willie, Denzil Verardo and Jennie Varardo. 2000. The Sempervirens Story: A Century of Preserving California's Ancient Redwood Forest, 1900-2000. Los Altos: Sempervirens Fund.
Walker, Richard. 2007. The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area. Seattle: University of Washington
Project originally submitted by Shaina Potts on June 19, 2010.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.
We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.SUBMIT MORE INFORMATION OR PHOTOGRAPHS FOR THIS SITE
My dad, William Heagerty, and uncle, Berdine Smith, worked on Big Basin during that time. I have a panorama picture of the entire troop.
Louise, would you be willing to send us a digital copy of the photo? We’d love to include it on the site, with whatever copyright information you’d like. You can send it to [email protected]
Yes, the 4 am to 9 or 10 am lightenings and thunders roamed through the County after crossing the Monterey Bay from Monterey County area…The fire started near Swanton Road off Hwy 1 north on the meadow near the coast…up the hill along if not over Empire Grade Rd. and turned north west near Big Basin State Park instead of jumping the ridge into Santa Clara County but into San Mateo County’s hills….One outdoor corded telephone stand escaped the fire but a second one next to it, escaped being melted by the fire.