Utility area - Rocky Mountain National Park CO
The utility area is the principle maintenance station of Rocky Mountain National Park. It is located near the Beaver Meadows entrance at Estes Park CO. It is a large complex of functional buildings, including offices, shops, garages, and storage, centered around a maintenance yard and machine shop (plus a substantial residential area for park employees).
The National Park Service began construction of the area in the 1920s and completed it in the 1930s with the help of Public Works Administration (PWA) funding and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) labor. The CCC was present in the park from 1933 to 1942 and presumably worked on the utility area throughout that time.
Brock says: “By the end of the CCC program in 1942, enrollees had completed everything from graveling and grading the area, refurbishing preexisting storage sheds and the ranger dormitory, building a powder house to store ammunition, landscaping the area with native flora, lowering the machine shop, and reconstructing the water and sewer lines in 1940 to accommodate all of the new storage sheds, shops, and residences.” (p. 44)
The overall style of the buildings is national park rustic, wooden planks and timber construction on simple stone or cement foundations, except for the concrete machine shop and a few postwar structures. “The utility area reflects the National Park Service’s concern for blending structures with the natural environment. The half-log and plank buildings, begun in 1923 at the Beaver Meadows Entrance, were completed during the 1930s under government work projects.” (History Colorado)
The entire area was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 as the Rocky Mountain National Park Utility Area Historic District. Some 16 maintenance buildings are listed as part of the district, along with a dozen residential structures.
The national register nomination form provides the following details (Wheaton 1975), though we have not identified all the buildings in the photographs:
Building #24-Mess Hall & Dormitory (“The Annex”). 27′ x 190′ (Built 1938)
Building #73-Equipment Storage Shed. ~ 30′. (Built 1939).
Building #74-Storage Shed. 22′ x 90′. (Built 1927)
Building #75-Equipment Storage Shed. Approximately 30′ (Built 1927; made “Machine Shop,” 1935; remodeled 1939 and 1954.
Building #76-Equipment Storage Shed. 24′ x 160′, thirteen stalls (Built 1938). Building #77-Equipment Storage Shed. 24′ x 102′, seven stalls (Built 1934, PWA funds)
Building #78-Equipment Storage Shed. 24′ x 102′, seven stalls (Built 1934, PWA funding).
Building #79-Warehouse. 27′ x 120′, 1-1/2 stories (built 1923, 1935 PWA addition doubled length)
Building #80-Storage Shed. Approximately 24′ x 80′, five stalls (Built 1930; remodeled 1933; converted in 1959 to Operations Center)
Building #81-Machine Shop. 45 x 100′ reinforced concrete (Built 1934-35, PWA funding).
Building#82-BlacksmithShop. 20’x30′ (Built 1931; moved to present site and lengthened 1936).
Building #83-Oil Storage Shed. 12′ x 20′ (Built 1925; moved c. 1934).
Building #84-Fire Truck Shed. 16′ x 27′ (Built 1929; “Fire House,” 1935; rear addition 1948).
Building #87-Fire Tool Cache Building. 17’x32. (Built 1929; moved 1938).
Rodd L. Wheaton ( 1975). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Rocky Mountain National Park Utility Area Historic District (pdf). National Park Service.
Julia Brock, A History of the CCC in Rocky Mountain National Park. Report to the Rocky Mountain Nature Association and Rocky Mountain National Park, 2005. https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/rmnp/ccc.pdf
Project originally submitted by Shaina Potts on March 27, 2015.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.
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