Thursday, February 05, 2009

"There's a legitimate opportunity to make us part of the stimulus package" -- Stephen Martin, National Park Service

The economy was a shambles. Millions of Americans were out of work. Saying something drastic needed to be done, the newly elected president announced a massive economic stimulus package aimed at repairing the nation's sagging infrastructure and putting people back to work.

The first "emergency agency" established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the Civilian Conservation Corps, which eventually put 3 million men to work in the national park system.

Yosemite National Park's Half Dome is reflected in the Merced River in this view from Sentinel Bridge. Members of the Civilian Conservation Corps replaced climbing cables on the mountain, among other projects in the park.

The Yosemite Valley can be seen from inside the Wawona Tunnel, which CCC crews constructed in 1933.

Snow covers the banks of the Merced River and the Pohono Bridge in Yosemite National Park. Citing the CCC as a model, the National Parks Conservation Assn., is pushing for the development of a National Park Service Corps. The group estimates that investing stimulus funds in parks would create roughly 50,000 jobs.

The setting sun lights the face of El Capitan, left, and of Half Dome, far right, in Yosemite National Park. There were about 600 CCC camps in various national parks during the program’s 10 years. Yosemite had more than most, with 10 encampments scattered throughout the park, from the Valley’s meadows to the high country and atop El Capitan.

Sparks rise from a roaring fire at the Lodge at Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park. The rustic, rock-and-timber buildings and massive lodges constructed by highly skilled CCC artisans are now famously part of the national parks’ visual style, often referred to as “parkitecture.”

Light from a dining room at Yosemite's Ahwahnee Hotel glows on the snow-covered ground outside. The park’s 6,816 CCC enrollees built walls and buildings using rocks and trees. Those projects remain in the park today and help create Yosemite’s rustic look.

The rising sun casts a deep shadow on granite walls in a view from Yosemite's Cook Meadow. About 300,000 men joined the CCC in three months, which at the time was the most rapid large-scale mobilization of men the country had ever witnessed.

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