SANTA FE, N.M. — From 1933 to 1942, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program that employed out-of-work, young unmarried men as part of the New Deal. Similarly, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided jobs for men and women during those years.
New Mexico was an important venue for the CCC and the WPA. The state had forests, farmlands, mountains and grasslands in need of the kinds of conservation work these programs provided. It had the kinds of outdoor environments that the CCC preferred as locations for its camps; it had populations in serious economic distress; and it had the political leadership of Governor Clyde Tingley, who was capable of combining all these amenities for public benefit.
It was no accident that New Mexico had more CCC camps than any other state. Today, we are the beneficiaries of the work accomplished by those who served in the CCC and WPA.
Although the CCC and the WPA were important to the nation and to National Parks throughout the country, and although their works remain evident in many parks, nowhere is there a unit of the National Park System dedicated to preserving and telling their stories. There ought to be such a national monument, it ought to be in New Mexico and it ought to be at the Old Santa Fe Trail Building in Santa Fe, itself a CCC project.