Castle Crags State Park - Castella CAView from the east.
From 1933 to 1937, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers developed Castle Crags State Park for public use. CCC enrollees from a camp at Castella built “the park’s roads, trails, infrastructure and buildings in the ‘park rustic’ style of native wood and stone.” (State Parks brochure). Evidently, some of the CCC workers at Castle Crags were African American (see photo below).
The state purchased the land in 1933 from a bankrupt private resort with a mineral springs, “Castle Rock Spring”, which had fallen into disrepair. The CCC workers built a trail down to the river, a new suspension bridge to replace an old, unsafe bridge for access to the springs, and new rock work for the mineral springs.
CCC workers cut trails into the backcountry and created an elegant native stone viewpoint of the granitic Castle Crags. Several trailheads can be found along the road up to the viewpoint, where there is a short trail and viewing area.
CCC workers laid out the Castle Crags park campground with its spacious campsites, picnic tables, and Diablo stoves, plus a water supply, faucets, drinking fountains and signage. The campground is still in excellent condition, though the sound of the interstate can intrude. There is a marvelous wooden map of the campground, which has all the earmarks of CCC design – though it is probably not the original wood.
The CCC also built houses and shop buildings for the park staff, which are no longer extant. “In 1959, most of the CCC-era structures were demolished to allow the Interstate 5 freeway to run through the original park. Some local rock ‘Diablo stoves’ in campsites remain, well as the CCC-built rock surround for the park’s mineral spring.” (Park brochure)
A State Parks website on CCC work in the parks mentions the following: suspension footbridge, spring, Diablo stoves, barn, comfort station, signs, masonry wall, and drinking fountains.
One remaining structure in the campground looks to be original CCC work; it might be a pump house (photo below). The suspension bridge appears to have been replaced recently, but the stone abutments on which it rests are clearly original CCC work.
Engbeck, Joseph H., Jr. 2002. By the People, For the People: The Work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in California State Parks, 1933-1941. Sacramento: California State Parks.
State Parks page on Castle Crags, including more photographs, found at: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=454
Project originally submitted by Shaina Potts on February 24, 2008.
Additional contributions by Ralph Kivet, Richard Walker.
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