Entrance sign, Rohner Park - Fortuna CA
In 1940, the Works Progress Administration (WPA), in concert with the city, developed the Municipal Park of Fortuna – now known as Rohner Park. By 1940, the WPA was part of the reorganized Federal Works Agency (later to become the General Services Administration).
The WPA project card indicates that relief workers were supposed to build baseball dugouts, restrooms, picnic tables and fireplaces, as well as a water and sewer system and hiking trails. A plaque in the park credits the WPA and city with developing the entire park.
There have been many additions and renovations since 1940. The restrooms, picnic area with its large fireplace (“cook shack”) and children’s playgrounds are clearly new. There are four baseball diamonds, but one, in particular, has older wooden dugouts and a storage (?) building with stone foundations. A recreation hall has the look of a WPA building, but is probably later.
The park also has a forested area in the hilly area back of the rodeo grounds with trails, which were presumably laid out by the WPA work teams.
A second WPA project card called for the construction of a “natatorium”, or indoor swimming pool, in the park; but we found no evidence of such a structure, so that was one of many WPA projects approved but never built.
WPA Project card #65-1-08-2287, 1939-40 (National Archives)
Project originally submitted by Joan Greer on June 11, 2021.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.
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