CCC Camp Vale - Vale OR
Built in the summer of 1935 and operated through October 1940, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp Vale served as the base for CCC enrollees working on the Vale Project’s irrigation system. The Bureau of Reclamation’s Vale Project involved construction of the Agency Valley Dam, located along the Malheur River and Willow Creek in east-central Oregon. At the dam’s completion, the work of the enrollees at Camp BR-45/Camp Vale began. They finished the necessary means of furnishing irrigation water to area ranchers by building the lateral irrigation system to farm tracts in the area.
These “soil soldiers,” as the Bureau of Reclamation supervised workers were called, developed a distribution system that served the 15,000 acre Willow Creek Unit. This involved, as noted by a Bureau of Reclamation historian (2010), building “65 miles of small irrigation ditches across sagebrush covered land” and installing “over 1,000 minor water control structures, mainly of concrete and steel.” After water flowed to local ranches, other projects included constructing drains and drain structures, paving laterals with rock, building about 157 miles of operating roads, and clearing 137 acres of the Agency Valley Reservoir. The Agency Valley Reservoir is currently known as the Beulah Reservoir.
As was the case with many other Bureau of Reclamation supervised CCC enrollees, they also worked to eradicate weeds and small mammals on project land. In the case of Camp BR-45, this meant the removal of noxious weeds on approximately 2,300 acres of government land and control of rodents and predatory animals on 94,000 acres. Vale area residents also recall that CCC workers serviced government vehicles at the camp.
To accommodate the year-around use of the camp over its five-year operation, a number of more permanent frame-buildings were constructed on-site in June 1935. Camp buildings included: camp headquarters, eight barracks, a kitchen and mess hall, officers’ quarters, technical services quarters, an infirmary, bath house, educational building, numerous shops, a latrine, and several smaller storage and ancillary buildings. Over time, many of these buildings have been absorbed for use by the community.
Willowcreek Community Church is housed in one of the larger structures. During renovation of the church, workers uncovered murals painted by Frederick H. Kluemper, a CCC enrollee from Covington KY. Impressed by the painting that occupied his free time, members of the church and community are committed to conserving the artwork as they seek to preserve his memory and the part that he and other enrollees played in their community.
"Buildings Rising for CCC Outfit: New Camp Near Vale Will Be Open Soon," Oregonian. June 10, 1935. p. 12.
"Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Painting Exhibit," Video Project - Four Rivers Cultural Center, December 19, 2014. Malheur County Historical Society, Vale OR.
Pfaff, Christine E. (2010) The Bureau of Recreation's CCC Legacy 1933-1942. Denver CO: US Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation. February 1910. pp. A-207 - A-210.
Project originally submitted by Jim Reed on August 9, 2022.
Additional contributions by Judith T Kenny.
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