The Jericho Civilian Conservation Corps Camp, 1935–1941
Between 1935 and 1942 Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps were established throughout Utah to provide work for unemployed young men during the Great Depression. The UNEV pipeline corridor crosses a portion of the Jericho CCC Camp near Delta, Utah. The remains of the camp were investigated through both archaeological excavation in the pipeline corridor and archival research at libraries and other repositories in Salt Lake City, Provo, Tucson, and Berkeley. Following completion of excavations additional research was carried out at the National Archives and Records Administration in Denver, Colorado, that included semi-annual reports and numerous photographs.
The CCC, a federal work program established in 1933 by the newly elected president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was a successful and highly popular federal response to the devastating unemployment of the Great Depression. The mission of the CCC was to carry out land and water conservation projects on public lands throughout the country using the unskilled labor of young men aged 18 to 25 (17 to 28 in later years). More than 2.5 million young men enrolled in the CCC before the program was discontinued in 1942.
The Jericho CCC camp got its name from Jericho Station, a stop on the Union Pacific railroad, located about a mile and a half to the southwest of the camp. The official designation for the camp was DG-26. The DG stood for the Division of Grazing, the federal agency in charge of designing and organizing projects carried out by the camp. The camp was built in 1935 and occupied by a changing group of as many as 225 CCC enrollees and officers from November 1935 to May 1941.
The camp was located on the eastern edge of Utah’s western desert, where cattle and sheep grazing on federal lands had a long history. The CCC camps under the Division of Grazing built trails, roads, corrals, reservoirs, stock tanks, and erosion-control features, all to benefit local ranchers. Jericho CCC Camp was involved in projects that benefited both cattle ranchers and sheep ranchers, but it had a special connection to the sheep industry because of its proximity to Jericho Station. Near the station the Union Pacific Railroad owned large shearing sheds and a corral that it leased to sheep men in the Jericho Wool Pool, one of the largest wool-marketing organizations in the country. Reports from the Jericho CCC camp invariably mentioned the record-breaking “Jericho wool clip” as one of the notable happenings near the camp.
The Jericho CCC camp was built before standardized architecture for camps was dictated nationally, however it conformed roughly to the later standardized plans. When the camp was completed in 1935 it consisted of 19 buildings. These included a mess hall, an “amusement” hall, officers’ quarters, office buildings, garages, machinery houses, a blacksmith shop, and barracks. It is clear from the photographs of buildings in the camp reports that the buildings were of simple wood-frame construction with vertical plank siding and pitched gable-end roofs.
The initial enrollees at the Jericho Camp were “Utah boys” transferred from the Huntsville Camp near Ogden, Utah. CCC enrollees typically signed up for a six-month period which could be extended by one or more six-month periods. Enrollees might be transferred to other camps at the end of each enrollment period. The ideal enrollment per camp was 225 men although enrollment at Jericho Camp seems to have fluctuated considerably.
The first major work project for enrollees at the Jericho Camp was rebuilding a road from Silver City over a mountain pass into Utah County. This project included road widening, curve straightening, bridge and culvert construction, and graveling of the road surface. Other work completed during the years of operation included reconditioning springs and wells, reservoir building and maintenance, and road construction and maintenance. Jericho crews also helped rescue stranded residents during heavy winter storms in 1937 and occasionally helped in firefighting.
Education and training were an important focus of the CCC and this was evident at the Jericho CCC Camp. Various classes were offered at the camp and many enrollees also took advantage of correspondence courses offered by the California Department of Education. Classes were taught in agriculture, automotive mechanics, spelling, electrical wiring, typing, surveying, woodworking, forestry, and music. The camp reading room was also a valuable resource, containing over 600 books, magazines, and newspapers in a well lighted and quiet building.
Jericho Camp enrollees regularly participated in sporting events. They played basketball and the team joined the statewide CCC basketball league in 1936. Boxing, wrestling, softball, and baseball were also part of camp life.
In 1939 the Jericho CCC Camp was one of 34 Utah camps identified to remain open until 1941. The camp was officially closed in May 1941. The abandonment of the final Juab County camp, Callao, soon followed in August. The CCC as a whole came to an end on June 30, 1942 when federal funding for the program was ended in favor of programs considered more directly useful to the new war effort.
The Jericho Camp was fully dismantled at the time of its official closure and the buildings were taken away for use elsewhere. Archaeological work confirmed that the buildings were removed in entirety. Fieldwork also intensively investigated the portion of the camp within the 250-foot-wide UNEV survey corridor and recorded all features and artifacts. Archival research provided for a good understanding of when the camp was occupied, who lived and worked there, and what the activities of the enrollees and other residents were.
Note: Historic photos are courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, Rocky Mountain Region, Denver, Colorado
For further information:
O’Mack, Scott, Alexa M. Smith, Brian R. McKee, Paul Farnsworth, and Brandon M. Gabler
2012 Data Recovery along the UNEV Pipeline—Utah Segment; Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, Juab, Millard, Beaver, Iron, and Washington Counties, Utah: Volume IV. The Basin’s Edge: Historic Sites at the Margin of Utah’s Western Desert. Utah State Project No. U-11-SQ-1012bfmps(e); WSA Technical Report No. 2011-29. John C. Ravesloot, Scott O’Mack, Michael J. Boley, and Melanie A. Medeiros, general editors. 6 vols. William Self Associates, Tucson, Arizona, and Cedar City, Utah.
Complete references can be viewed in our Additional Information section.