Friday, July 4, 2008


Memories of the Mount Rainier’s CCC Days
by Doug Evans

Much of my childhood at Mount Rainier was during the Great Depression. Fortunately my dad was employed by the National Park Service, so we were better off than the many millions of unemployed throughout the country and the world. Of the many programs initiated by the Roosevelt administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) had the greatest impact on Mount Rainier National Park. There were several camps and several hundred young men, “CCC boys”, at various locations in the park. Their good works are still obvious throughout the park.

One CCC project I remember was the re-routing of the Wonderland Trail around the mill site of the Paradise Mining and Milling Company, where we lived at the time. Two primary reasons prompted this change: the mill site was a rather shabby and unkempt place, not attractive to outdoor hikers, and the trail was not ten feet from our front porch and hikers occasionally walked into our house thinking it was an NPS ranger station. So, the trail was re-routed to a location below the edge of the site toward the Nisqually River, where it remains to this day. The construction was all hand work, there being no power trail equipment in those days. I would sit on the rim above watching the work and visiting with the CCC guys doing the work. As I recall, most of them were from southern states such as Alabama and Mississippi.

Another project I watched was the construction of the three large houses up on the hill above Longmire, designated for the park superintendent, the assistant superintendent, and the chief ranger. I often ran down the trail from the mine mill site to play with the kids at Longmire and so passed right by these construction sites and would pause to visit with the CCC boys. The first superintendent to occupy the uppermost house was John Preston in 1941.

Whenever I hear the name Sunshine Point, I think not of the campground, but of the large CCC camp there during the 1930s. I recall the many barracks buildings and the recreation hall where movies were shown weekly and NPS employees were invited to attend. This was a great treat for us and we attended regularly. The movie program was often introduced by a live talent show put on by the boys. They always seemed to be a happy bunch of kids, perhaps because of the fact that they had work and were employed in one of the most beautiful places in the world. So, when I heard that the big flood of 2006 had wiped out Sunshine Point, it wasn’t the loss of the campground that saddened me nearly as much as the loss of the site of the historic Sunshine Point CCC Camp. But, I still have my fond memories of it as it was during the ‘30s.

PHOTO: Sunshine Point CCC Camp. Photo courtesy National Park Service