Rattlesnake Springs Historic District – Carlsbad NM


The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) operated Camp NP-1-N from 1938 to 1942 at Rattlesnake Springs—now the Rattlesnake Springs Historic District—in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The group conducted substantial work at the site.

Bob Hoff’s Carlsbad Caverns History Blog:

At Rattlesnake Springs, the CCC enrollees built a ranger residence still in use today. They also constructed a service road and a water diversion ditch and constructed masonry work to line the Rattlesnake Springs pond. While National Park Service Landscape Architect Harvey Cornell provided the plans for the CCC camp layout in 1938 it is not clear to what extent CCC enrollees constructed the CCC camp.

The Civilian Conservation Corps in New Mexico:
“Rattlesnake Springs is located in southeastern New Mexico near Carlsbad Caverns. The springs come from ground water that bubbles up through the bedrock. In 1938 the CCC came to this area, and the camp that set up here became home to sixty-two workers and was officially named NP-1-N. The work the men here performed included tilling and landscaping the area, planting … cottonwood trees, laying trails for visitors, and extending the existing irrigation ditch.

Today the Rattlesnake Springs campsite stretches for eighty acres and is a detached part of the Carlsbad Caverns Natural Park. While here, the CCC built living quarters, a kitchen and dining facility, a recreation hall, a school, and an infirmary. During World War II the Carlsbad Air Base used the buildings built by the CCC. Most of these structures are no longer at the site, but the cottonwood trees that line the picnic grounds remain as reminders of the work that the men of camp NP-1-N did at the springs.”

CAVE History Update, CHU #7:
Over the next four years, the Civilian Conservation Corps “boys’ at Carlsbad Caverns National Park
performed an amazingly diverse number of projects. A partial list of projects completed demonstrates this.
Consider some of the projects worked on in February 1940:

    Special Improvement Activities: Civilian Conservation Corps Camp NP-1-N “Rattlesnake Spring,” Arthur V. Read, Project Superintendent, reports as follows for February:

  • Foot trail maintenance (59 man days labor)
  • Hauling cement and asphalt from Carlsbad, taking material into Cavern and distributing to job (101 man days);
  • Electric line maintenance (50 man days)
  • Building maintenance (13 man days)
  • Grading floors in Cavern (129 man days)
  • Alterations and addition to Pump House (89 man days)
  • Employee’s residence, worked on plastering, painting, plumbing, etc. (230 man days)
  • Barriers, taking large rock from the talus slope in the Underground Lunchroom and placing them along walk boundaries (225 man days)
  • Sewage disposal system, excavating, laying soil pipe and building forms for manhole and septic tank (28 man days)
  • Cavern cleanup, cleaning up as work in Cavern progressed (30 man days)
  • Park road maintenance, along Walnut Canyon road (42 man days)
  • Tree preservation, pruning, painting and transplanting trees in the Rattlesnake Spring area (128 man days)
  • Road obliteration (194 man days)
  • Bank sloping (180 man days)
  • New parking area, excavating and building embankment (1016 man days)

The February 1940 project achievements were but one of the 46 months that the Civilian Conservation Corps at Rattlesnake Springs labored here.

Source notes

Bob Hoff's Carlsbad Caverns History Blog: https://carlsbadcavernshistory.blogspot.com/2007/04/civilian-conservation-corps-at.html (accessed Apr. 9, 2022)

The Civilian Conservation Corps in New Mexico: https://bingaman.unm.edu/sites/default/files/webarchives/bingaman.senate.gov02/4596-bingaman.senate.gov_features_ccc_projects.html (accessed Apr. 9, 2022)

National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form:
https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/NRHP/88001173_text (accessed Apr. 9, 2022)

CAVE History Update, CHU #7 — October 30, 2003: https://npshistory.com/publications/cave/chu/7.pdf (accessed Apr. 9, 2022)

Project originally submitted by Evan Kalish on April 9, 2022.
Additional contributions by Charles Swaney.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Rattlesnake Springs Road
Carlsbad, NM

Coordinates: 32.109925, -104.471831

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