McKee Bridge Picnic Ground (McKee Bridge Forest Camp) – Ruch OR

State:
OR

Site Type:
Parks and Recreation, Picnic and Other Facilities

New Deal Agencies:
US Forest Service (USFS), Work Relief Programs, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

Started:
1935

Completed:
1936

Quality of Information:
Very Good

Marked:
Yes

Site Survival:
Extant

Description

In 1935, enrollees from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp Applegate began construction of a forest camp on the banks of the Applegate River near the McKee Bridge. The site already served as a popular local swimming hole and the CCC work would build on this popularity to open new public recreational opportunities in the Rogue River National Forest. The McKee Forest Camp opened in 1936 with privies, a bathhouse, a playground, and a community kitchen shelter as well as camp stoves, fire rings and picnic tables for day use. By the late 1930s, the Forest Camp served as a major recreational draw for the Medford area. The campground features (privies and bathhouse) were removed in the 1950s and 1960s but many of the CCC improvements for day use remain and exemplify CCC design elements.

While many of the CCC enrollees embraced the title “brush marines” for the Camp’s focus on forest management and trail construction, these young workers also acquired the skills of masonry and rustic wood construction through projects such as the McKee Bridge Forest Camp. The four and a half acre site for the picnic ground occupies a flat terrace above the Applegate River covered by a stand of Ponderosa pine. Enrollees reinforced the terrace with a stone retaining wall along the river with three stone stairways down to the beach. The site’s community kitchen shelter made of post and beam construction with peeled logs and poles, a wood with shake shingle roof, and peeled pole purlins and rafters reflects the Forest Service’s “rustic” design philosophy employed during the Depression. Picnic ground elements such as the stone camp stoves also developed their skill in rustic masonry work. The National Register of Historic Places report written in 2000 notes that the camp stoves are of standard CCC design, and in the California National Forests referred to as “Klamath” stoves – from their common use in southern Oregon.

Historian Gail Throop (1981) emphasized the significance of the McKee Bridge Picnic Ground by noting that the “site was developed according to planning and design criteria then recently established by the regional Office, North Pacific Region.” She further summarizes: “Although modified to accommodate increased day use, the original design of the developed occupancy site is readily evident. The primary components of the facility, the community kitchen, built landscape features, fire rings, retain integrity of design and
materials, and exhibit exemplary workmanship.”

Source notes

"McKee Bridge Campground," National Register of Historic Places Form (2000). Oregon State Historic Preservation Office. https://heritagedata.prd.state.or.us/historic/index.cfm?do=v.dsp_siteSummary&resultDisplay=39353

Throop, Elizabeth Gail (1981) "Evaluation Report: McKee Bridge Picnic Area, Rogue River National Forest, Applegate Ranger District." USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region." (See SHPO Heritage Data Summary).

Location Info


Upper Applegate Rd
Ruch, OR 97530
Jackson County

Location notes: The McKee Bridge Picnic Area is located approximately seven miles south of Jacksonville off of Oregon Highway 238 on the west bank of the Applegate River.

Coordinates: 42.12676, -123.07426

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