Mount Diablo Stove in 1930s
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built over fifty picnic areas in Mt. Diablo State Park. Most are small sites tucked into the trees along the roads up the mountain, each with a couple tables and stoves done in rustic style – wood planking on stone pillars and stone fireplaces (“Diablo Stoves”). Every picnic area is named, with clear signage, and they appear to be well maintained. The photographs below are just a sample, descending from the summit to the North Gate (taken in mid-winter).
The picnic areas are one element of the extensive works projects undertaken by the CCC at Mount Diablo State Park from 1933-42. The State Parks Department is quite cognizant of its debt to the New Deal for improving all the parks existing in the 1930s, as noted in Joseph Engbeck’s (2002) official history of the parks and on the State Parks website – which includes a “CCC heritage adventure” page to guide New Deal enthusiasts.
The state parks website observes that:
“The CCC worked for nine years in Mount Diablo. The work accomplished in the park demonstrates the variety of CCC activities in state parks in general. As visitors travel up the main road which winds to the mountain top, they pass through areas developed for day-use and trails, both of which illustrate the skill and fine craftsmanship of the CCC. Upon reaching the top, the experience is culminated by the fine views and vistas of the surrounding valleys and crowned by the Summit Building one of the largest and most important CCC building in the park system.”
The CCC built access roads, hiking trails, camping and day-use facilities, stone masonry and timber entrance gates, culverts with stone masonry headers, stone and concrete retaining walls, turn-outs for cars and observation areas, residences for the park staff, barracks for the fire suppression crews, a mess hall and other service buildings, a water supply and water distribution system. Most well-known is the Summit Museum.
Also notable are the characteristic stone stoves built by the CCC, called “Diablo Stoves”, whose design was first worked out here and then copied all over California.
Joseph Engbeck. 2002. By the People, For the People: The Work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in California State Parks, 1933-1941. Sacramento: California State Parks Department.
See also the website of the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association (MDIA)
Project originally submitted by Richard Walker on January 8, 2019.
Additional contributions by Joan Greer.