When the Great Depression began in 1929, many young men were without hope. Without job training or experience, they could not survive. For many, their only salvation was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)—a program that put poor young men to work in national parks, national forests, state parks, and other public lands. In northern Arizona, the CCC boys planted trees, built roads and buildings, strung telephone lines, erected fences, constructed trails and campgrounds, and put out forest fires. During the terrible winter of 1936–1937, they came to the rescue of hundreds of ranchers and their starving livestock. The work of the CCC boys was not only prolific but also made to last. From the Petrified Forest’s Painted Desert Inn to the cabins and trails of Kingman’s Hualapai Mountain Park to Prescott’s Granite Basin Recreation Area, we still walk in their footprint.
We Still Walk in Their Footprint: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Northern Arizona, 1933–1942 is a meticulously researched study of the impact of the CCC across much of northern Arizona. From a detailed analysis of archival records, the author reconstructs CCC work at Petrified Forest National Park and Wupatki, Walnut Canyon, and Sunset Crater National Monuments. Using oral history interviews with former CCC men, as well as archival records, he recounts their work in the Coconino, Prescott, and Kaibab National Forests. All three of the national forests still use CCC-constructed buildings, such as the Crown King Ranger Station. After examining records in local government offices, the author has described in detail, for the first time, the numerous CCC projects across the Arizona Strip. Many of the CCC’s range land improvements here, such as reservoirs and fences, are still in use today. The author also analyzed newspapers across northern Arizona and southern Utah as well as the enrollee-created camp newspapers. He brings to life the trials, triumphs, and moods of the young men, who frequently worked in isolated communities.
When the CCC ended in 1942, northern Arizona public lands experienced unprecedented infrastructure growth. Without the CCC and other New Deal programs, the state’s farming, timber, and mining industries might not have survived. And the CCC was critical in the growth of the state’s tourism industry. These programs saved the state from economic collapse.