Little Treasures in the Park

I love it when I stumble upon beautiful architecture in unlikely places.

In my last post, I talked about our vintage Airstream, which we took on a camping trip to Deception Pass State Park.  We camped in the park so that my husband, Chris, could be close to his volunteer work helping with a fish count in Bowman Bay.

Chris at fish count

And while he worked, I explored the bay.  As expected, I found tide pools, sweeping water vistas, seals, and birds.

But I wasn’t expecting stunning architecture with a link to the past. Right there among the clam shells and the picnic benches, a little window into the Great Depression opened for me.  And although I don’t usually post about U.S. history, I hope you’ll indulge me this time.

Hard Times, Strong People

My discovery began with this sign.

CCC Interpretive Center Sign

The Civilian Conservation Corps Interpretive Center is a nice mini-museum that, in a nutshell, tells a story of human resilience and of how beautiful things can come from desperate times.

It’s located in a former bathhouse built during the Great Depression.

CCC Interpretive Center

Its construction was part of a public work relief program under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal called the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

Young men who joined the CCC worked on improving and developing government lands all across the country.  They stocked lakes and planted trees.  They learned valuable skills while constructing roads, canals, and bridges.

Beautiful Reminders

They also constructed recreational buildings like this one.  They built them with style, and they built them to last.  I love the heavy stone exterior of this building and the extra little detail of having the stones curve in before they meet the wooden crossbeam.

CCC Picnic Shelter

There were a few other gems sitting quietly among the trees.

My favorite was this recently restored – and pretty spectacular- picnic shelter.

CCC Picnic Shelter

CCC Picnic Shelter

The amount and the quality of the wood used in this place is staggering.  I can’t image a public picnic shelter like this being built today.

CCC Picnic Shelter

Family reunion in here?  Sign me up.

CCC Picnic Shelter interior

For a young man trying to weather the Great Depression, a CCC camp must have been a very desirable possibility indeed.  Workers were given wages, food, lodging, and medical care.

CCC Picnic Shelter interior

Most of the men working in the CCC were young – under 29 years of age.  Apparently they were quick studies because their craftsmanship was amazing.  At another nearby picnic shelter, stonework is the star of the show.

CCC Picnic Shelter

CCC Picnic Shelter

The CCC program only lasted about a decade, but it gave us so many little national treasures.  I see structures like these sprinkled in parks all over my home state of Washington, and I always find them intriguing.  Some are just restrooms, but they are the cutest and sturdiest restrooms you’ll ever see.

The best thing about these treasures is that they are accessible to all of us.   So next time you’re in a park, take a second look and see what little gem you find.

Disclosure:  Affiliate links used.


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14 Replies to “Little Treasures in the Park”

    1. That’s true Peggy! And what a creative government program. I wonder if they even realized at the time the treasures they were giving future generations.

  1. My father worked in a CCC camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains – they were building fire breaks. It was back breaking work, but he said it was a choice between starving or eating, so he was glad to do it. I grew up in San Antonio, and we would often visit the Riverwalk in downtown – there are beautiful stone bridges over the river, and an outdoor theatre (Arneson Theater, seen in Miss Congeniality, lol) built by the WPA. I also love that these beautiful works have stood the test of time. Thanks for sharing the lovely photos of the campgrounds you visited 🙂

    1. Patty, I have seen those stone bridges on the San Antonio Riverwalk, but had no idea they were built by the WPA. What a great story about your father – thanks for sharing it and for visiting today!

    1. Anne, I stopped by your blog – very nice! I love your practical and fun transformation of that old door. Thanks for visiting today.

  2. I love history and I love this! My father died when I was 9 months old, but he came to Utah with the CCC’s and met my mom at a dance. Mom always told us about the thing he helped build. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    1. Jann, it’s so sad to lose a father so young. But what a wonderful story you have about him and the CCC. Thanks so much for sharing it here!

  3. The carpentry in the picnic shelter you showed is incredible. The CCC left us with many sturdy beautiful reminders of a time in our country’s history where young me had to travel far from home just to keep body and soul together. Thank you for sharing at Vintage Charm.

    1. Sharon, yes times were very different then. And what a great program the CCC was in that, although these young men had to work hard for what they earned (and I understand that most of their earnings were sent to their families), they learned skills and teamwork, and probably went away with a higher sense of self-worth because of it. Thanks for stopping by today and for hosting Vintage Charm!

  4. Now that is what you would call sturdy workmanship. The stone houses can last hundreds of years. They are beautiful and with the addition of the wood make it look so rustic and cozy. It is true, they don’t make them like that anymore, paying such attention to details. Thanks Sharon for giving us all such sweet Inspiration. Pinning and sharing.

  5. What a cool discovery you came upon! Those buildings are amazing and look incredibly sturdy. Thanks for sharing this neat piece of history.

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