CCC Camp Belknap (former) – Willamette National Forest

Description

Contributing improvements in forest management and recreation development, CCC Camp Belknap operated in the Willamette National Forest for five years. From spring 1933 to summer 1938, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) enrollees strung phone lines through the forest, and constructed roads and trails. They built lookouts and guard stations with water systems, and fought several major fires. They opened new parts of the forest to camping and other recreation opportunities, building campgrounds, picnic areas, and ski lodges and ski runs. Perhaps the most distinctive of the projects completed by Camp Belknap’s “CCC boys” is the Dee Wright Observatory near McKenzie Pass.

Although the first companies at Camp Belknap came from Nebraska and Missouri, throughout the majority of its operation, enrollees came from Oregon. Company 927 from Oregon began construction of the more permanent camp in 1934. As shown in the 1934 camp plan below, they built four barracks for the 200 men assigned to the camp as well as a mess hall and infirmary. A volleyball court and boxing ring contributed to camp recreation. The camp’s administration building, a forestry office and shelters necessary for storage rounded out the initial camp buildings. As many as sixteen buildings contributed to the camp’s functioning at its peak development. When the camp was closed for CCC use, and the Company moved to CCC Camp Oakridge, the Forest Service used the facility for annual fire training courses into the 1960s.

A plaque at the site, adjacent to the current McKenzie Ranger Station, was placed there in 2002 to commemorate the contribution of the CCC. As summarized on the plaque: “The CCC members built many forest recreational camps, including the ones at Clear Lake, Fish Lake, Paradise, and McKenzie; they also constructed the old McKenzie Ranger Station outbuildings, White Branch Winter Sports Area, the magnificent Dee Wright Observatory, and many forest roads, including the first passable truck trail from Belknap Springs to Clear Lake. In addition, they constructed the Box Canyon and Blue River guard stations, and most of the trail shelters in what is now the Three Sisters Wilderness area, as well as several fire lookouts (several of which are still standing). In addition to those accomplishments, they fought forest fires and replanted burned over areas.”

The McKenzie Ranger Station has a small display in the lobby that honors the CCC enrollees from Camp Belknap. Among the points made is the impact of CCC’s use of rustic architectural styles in construction of buildings in the Willamette National Forest and other places around the state. Referred to as the Cascadia style, the US Forest Service exhibit explains that the McKenzie Ranger Station design consciously drew upon that inspiration.

Source notes

"Camp Belknap," CCC-Vancouver Barracks Report - 1937. pp. 114-117 & 146.

Silvermoon, Jon (1984) Cultural Resource Inventory, Site Evaluation, and Mitigation Report for the McKenzie Ranger Site Development Project and Belknap Civilian Conservation Corps Camp. District Archaeologist Report, Willamette National Forest, McKenzie Ranger District. July 18, 1984.

"Three C's Left Their Mark," Internet Archive Wayback Machine

Project originally submitted by Jim Reed on August 25, 2022.
Additional contributions by Judith T Kenny.

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Location Info


57600 McKenzie Hwy
Blue River, OR 97413

Coordinates: 44.17944, -122.11609

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