Summit Building, Mount Diablo State Park CA
The Summit Building at the peak of Mount Diablo was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939-42. It is a beautiful example of CCC rustic stonework, built for the ages using local sandstone quarried on the mountain. The Summit Building serves as a visitor center, observation platform and museum. The museum contains displays about the natural history of Mt. Diablo, including a set of paintings of local wildflowers by WPA artists (shown below). The observation platform on top provides visitors with one of the grandest panoramas in California, if not the entire country; a 360º unimpeded view from San Francisco in the west to Mount Lassen in the north (air quality permitting!).
The Summit Building is the most prominent 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 Building and the the characteristic stone fireplaces called “Diablo Stoves”.
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 7, 2019.
Additional contributions by Joan Greer.