From Jemez Thunder, September 15, 1996
In March of 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), one of many social programs to provide unemployment relief during the Great Depression and to develop rural areas of the United States. The aerial photo above shows a CCC camp which existed near Ponderosa during the ‘30s at what is now the Paliza Group Campground.
Lew Caldwell of Ponderosa remembers it well. He was treated for poison ivy there when he was a boy, he said. In addition to a doctor’s office, the camp also had a blacksmith shop. The CCC camp built erosion control structures, fences and roads throughout the Jemez region.
Mr. Caldwell said that this was the main camp in the area, but that there were other smaller ones near the Valle Grande and Cuba. The CCC provided employment to over 3 million young, unmarried men across the United States during the nine years it was in existence.
By July of 1942, most young, unmarried men found employment in the army fighting World War II, and the era of the CCC came to a close. Most of the buildings in this photo no longer exist, but the roads are still there. During the Nicole Fire in June, Forest Service firefighters used this area as a base camp to battle the blaze farther north at Peralta Canyon.
The Paliza Group Campground is part of the Santa Fe National Forest, and may be reserved for parties and groups by calling 1-800-280-2267. Area “A” can accommodate 25-50 people, and the larger Area “B” can take 100-150. There is a minimum charge of $25 to reserve the space; over 25 people costs one dollar per person. Reservations should be made at least five days in advance.