History of The Willamette National Forest

Chapter IV


Marion Clawson and Burnell Held, in their classic study of the Federal lands, remarked on the first era in Federal land management:

In many ways the period of custodial management was highly important...Custodial management opened the reserved areas to use; it prevented the most severe wastage, especially from fire; and it reduced loss from theft and trespass. During this era also, substantial public support was developed for the various forms of Federal land management. Perhaps its greatest achievement was the devising and improving of techniques of federal resource management — techniques that would have their greatest test in the years ahead. [1]

Nineteen thirty-three marked the creation of the Willamette National Forest as an administrative unit—its coming of age from one point of view, and the ending of a period of gestation from another. The 40 years from the establishment of a forest reserve in the area and the establishment of the Willamette National Forest as an administrative unit had been marked by many changes. These included the establishment of a system of administrative decentralization, a major source of strength for the Forest Service. It was based on delegation of authority from the Washington Office to the Region, thence to the separate national forests, and from them to the various ranger districts in the national forests. Also important was the development of a program of administrative federalism involving the Forest Service, other Federal agencies, Oregon's state agencies and private guild organizations, which were backed by Federal and state legislation, and a series of bilateral agreements. These agreements involved grazing, fire control, land exchange, cooperation in range and forest research, and recreation.

The period was marked also by growing popular support of the Service and its policies. The rangers were key men in mobilizing such support, living as they did, as members of the community, and working with all kinds of local and regional groups—Obsidians, Grangers, 4-H groups, school boards, universities, lumbermen's guilds, Boy Scouts, county grazing associations, representatives from the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, and church groups. They put in a great deal of "coal oil time" working with the community—locating section corners, giving talks to a variety of groups, carrying on search expeditions for lost children, arbitrating disputes over a variety of matters, listening to complaints about forest policy, and giving advice and guidance to visitors. The role of rangers' wives was no less important. They offered hospitality to visiting brass—a gallon of hot coffee and a huckleberry pie were always on hand if the Supervisor came visiting. If he was accompanied by the fire control chief, two pies were appropriate. She counseled employees on marital problems, administered first aid to the injured, and ministered to the indiscreet, who had been overcome by hospitality at a meeting of the Stockman's Association, or the "Concatenated Order of Hoo Hoo"; took over the telephone system in cases of fire; and worked with a host of community associations. Much of the strength of the Forest Service came from the fact that rangers and rangers' wives were highly respected members of the community; and criticism of the Forest Service was more often directed to the "Swivel Chair Foresters" of the Washington Office or the "Swedes in green pants" in Portland, than to the local organization.

The period 1933-1945 was one of transition, marked by the administrative changes inherent in the creation of a new national forest, by the relief programs of the Great Depression, and a surge of new employees able to make material gains, and by the war, which involved new problems.


The Cascade and the Santiam National Forests were merged into a single administrative unit, the Willamette National Forest, in 1933. With 1,666,998 acres, it was the largest national forest in Oregon. However, the network of roads and trails, and the expanding telephone lines justified its organization as a single administrative unit. The earlier ranger districts—Detroit, Cascadia, McKenzie, West Boundary, and Oakridge—were retained.

Perry A. Thompson, who has been mentioned before, was named Supervisor. He was born in Conconcolly, Washington, in 1889. He worked on the Colville National Forest before World War I, and after the war he returned to the Colville in 1921. Between 1921 and 1930, Thompson worked on the Colville, Whitman, and Malheur National Forests. He then went to the Santiam in 1930 and with the merger became Supervisor of the Willamette. He was keenly interested in recreation, and during his term as Supervisor took advantage of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program to advance recreation developments in the forest, and recreation planning in the Region. He retired in 1939. [2]

His successor was John R. (Ray) Bruckart. Bruckart was another of the old timers. He entered the Forest Service in 1909 on the Snoqualmie National Forest, after serving for some years in the U.S. Cavalry. He took the ranger "short course"—three month's training—at the University of Washington in 1909. He later served on the Mount Baker, Olympic, and Columbia National Forests. A lover of hunting, fishing, horses, and skiing, he was deeply concerned with recreation, and in preparing places for recreationists which would allow people to enjoy the amenities and at the same time reduce danger of fire and vandalism. He desired a balance of protection and utilization. His essay, "Taming a Wild Forest," in the USDA Yearbook of Agriculture for 1949 is the best short history of the Willamette, and at the same time a good summing up of his personal philosophy. [3]

Both men ably bridged the transition between custodial management and intensive management. Thompson was innovative, looking ahead to the utilization of helicopters in forest management. He worked closely with Fred Cleator of the Regional Office, and with William Parke of the Willamette in planning recreation for the future. Of Bruckart and his associates, one man commented on their "common striving for excellence, toughness, and impatience with less than top performance, and yet a certain empathy for the average and a real push for training." [4]

In the Regional Office, C.J. Buck was elevated from the office of lands to become Regional Forester in 1930. Buck (as mentioned in Chapter III) had served in Region 6 since 1908, most of the time as Assistant District Forester in charge of lands. His term as Regional Forester was marked by the Depression: The major effort of his administration was the handling of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and providing the staff, camps, and projects on the national forests, as well as camp staff for the CCC projects on O&C lands in western Oregon. In addition, there was the controversy over introducing selective cutting on national forest timber sales instead of clearcutting, and another controversy involving the enlargement of the Mt. Olympus National Monument at the expense of the Olympic National Forest, as well as giving the area national park status. He served until 1939, when he was transferred to Washington as inspector and assistant to the Forester after a "run-in" with President Roosevelt over Mt. Olympus. Three years later Buck retired. [5]

He was succeeded by Lyle F. Watts. He was a graduate of the Iowa State school of forestry, earning there the B.S. in 1915 and M.S. in 1928. He had worked, before coming to the Pacific Northwest, in Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah, and in 1928 organized and served for a year as dean of the school of forestry at Utah State Agricultural College. From 1931 to 1936 he worked at the Northern Rocky Mountain Forest Experiment Station, first as the senior siliviculturist, then in 1935 he was selected as the new Director. In 1936 Watts became Regional Forester in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Watts became the R-6 Regional Forester in 1939, at a time when the CCC program was reducing and the war clouds were building. Watts was deeply interested in development of the timber industry on a sustained yield basis. Watts served until 1943 and then moved to the Washington Office as Forester. He retired from the Forest Service in 1952. [6]

Watts was succeeded in 1943 by Horace Justin Andrews. H.J. "Hoss" Andrews was a native of Michigan and a 1916 masters graduate in forestry from the University of Michigan, and from 1914-17 he worked on timber reconnaissance projects on the Santiam National Forest, and various forests in California and Colorado. He served in the Army Air Corps in World War I, and then worked for the State of Michigan, first as director of the land economic survey, then as assistant state forester. His work in Michigan gained him a reputation as a leader of a national movement in which economic surveys of forest resources were applied to all important forest regions of the United States. He joined the Forest Service in 1930 as senior forest economist and director of the forest survey of Washington and Oregon conducted by the Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. In 1938 he returned to Michigan as a research professor in wild land utilization, but a year later came back to Portland as Assistant Regional Forester in charge of the division of state and private forestry for Region 6. He was appointed Regional Forester in 1943 and served until his death in 1951. He was a versatile, popular forester, well suited to serve in the shift from custodial management to intensive management. [7]


The lumber industry underwent a series of drastic changes in the period 1933-1945, which altered the nature of the industry and its relationship with the Forest Service. The changes may be summarized as follows:

(1)—There was a major shift from private to public lands as a source of timber. As private lands came to be cut over, the lumber companies looked increasingly to the Federal timber.

(2)—There were changes in ownership and management of lumber companies. Many went under because of the Depression; some for other reasons.

(3)—"Sustained yield" became the goal. It had traditionally been the goal in Forest Service management, but now became the goal on private and state forests as well.

(4)—There were major changes in logging technology. The era of railroad logging and river drives gave way to tractor logging and truck transportation.

(5)—The changes in logging technology were accompanied by changes in cutting practices.

(6)—There were major improvements in fire control.

(7)—In the national forests, there were major changes in land use patterns and management practices. Our concern will be on their effect on the Willamette National Forest. [8]

With the 1930s came the beginnings of a major shift to the national forests as a source of lumber. The big Westfir timber sale, up the North Fork of the Willamette River, was the first of a series of sales involving wholly, or in part, national forest timber. The major sales of this type were in the Oakridge area since this area had railroad transportation. The Hammond Lumber Company, which had several sales on Forest Service land in the Detroit area, went broke in 1936. Lumber companies around the Sweet Home area still had private timber lands to utilize, and timber sales were aggressively pressed in the revested Oregon and California (O&C) Railroad grant lands outside the Willamette National Forest. The war gave impetus to timber sales, however, and after 1941 there were a number of large sales in the Sweet Home and McKenzie Districts. [9]

New companies and interests emerged. The Westfir Lumber Company, which had the Westfir sale, got into financial difficulties, and was taken over by the Edward Hines interests, a Burns, Oregon, company. The Hines interests took over not only the company but continued its name and took over the Forest Service sales. They also took over some of the holdings of the Penn Lumber Company. The Louis W. Hill interests, a St. Paul firm, took over some of the privately owned sections, which were the former Santiam Wagon Road grant lands, in the Sweet Home and Detroit Ranger Districts. [10]

The new companies and some of the older ones accepted the idea of sustained yield management. Sustained yield has been defined in different ways by different people. Essentially it is the application of sound silvicultural principles in timber harvest in order to maintain lands continuously in permanent production. Agency policies in the government differed; on the Indian lands, for example, they were accompanied by trying to attain sustained yield along with maximum financial returns. With the Forest Service, it meant coordinating sustained yield in timber production with other forest uses. In the private sector it meant some pulling and hauling between the business office and the company forester. A foresters plans for the long run often were at odds with the views of some "fish-eyed accountant in the company office who wanted maximum profits." [11]

Coupled with the term "sustained yield" was the term "industrial forestry." This meant timber growing as a business enterprise. As defined by T.T. Munger, "Industrial forestry is the employment by an individual or corporate owners in woods operations of methods of silviculture and forest protection that are intended to promote the continued growing of forest crops....It would ordinarily imply at least the equivalent of such silvicultural and protection measures as are recommended for each forest region in the 'minimum requirement' studies of the U.S. Forest Service." The movement developed in the 1920s and was aided by a series of state and Federal acts. These include the Weeks Act of 1911 which laid the basis for Federal-state cooperation in forestry and materially increased the acreage of state and private lands protected from fire; the Clarke-McNary Act of 1924 involving both fire protection and planting; the growth of protective associations in the Northwest; and the Oregon Compulsory Patrol Law of 1913 making it mandatory for the private timberland owners to protect their lands. Two New Deal pieces of legislation aided this: The Emergency Conservation Work Act of 1933, which set up the Civilian Conservation Corps which built fire breaks, truck trails, plantations, and fire lines, and encouraged private owners to carry on such developments on their own land; and the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, which set up codes of fair competition for industry, and which, in Article X, set up codes of forest practices. These practices included minimum standards of forest management and encouraged timber harvesting under sustained yield management. [12]

Two pieces of legislation, one state and the other Federal, gave impetus to sustained yield forestry. In 1941 the State of Oregon passed the Oregon Forest Conservation Act which provided that "any person, firm or corporation cutting live timber for commercial use from lands within the state of Oregon shall... leave reserve trees of commercial species deemed adequate under normal conditions to maintain continuous forest growth and/or provide satisfactory restocking to insure forest growth." Other parts provided that the operator protect the residual stands from fire or other destructive forces. The regulations were flexible; in general, they required that not less than five percent of each quarter section be stocked with seed-bearing trees. Plans of operation were to be submitted to the state forester. In operation, the act proved to be ineffectual and was merely a paper plan.

The gospel of sustained yield was discussed a great deal among the operators owning timber in or near the Willamette National Forest. The journals of David Mason, a consulting forester who played a large part in development of the sustained yield idea, show numerous conferences with representatives of the Louis Hill and Edward Hines interests. H.J. Cox, of the Willamette Lumberman's Association, proclaimed in 1936 that the Westfir operation the only sustained yield operation in the United States, and Supervisor Bruckart boasted of Westfir as the largest sustained yield operation in Oregon. [13] However, much of the discussion on sustained yield proved to be premature and overly optimistic.

Formal recognition of sustained yield came in 1944 with passage of the Sustained-Yield Forest Management Act. This authorized the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture to establish cooperative sustained yield units, consisting either of Federal forest and private forest land or Federal sustained yield units consisting only of Federal forest land when, in their judgement, the maintenance of a stable community depended on Federal stumpage and when such stability could not be secured by usual timber sales. [14]

In the Willamette two attempts were made to establish sustained yield units under the law of 1944. One involved the Booth-Kelly interests near Oakridge. This failed apparently because of fear of monopoly. A second, in 1945, involved the Hill interests in the Sweet Home area. This plan was discussed for some time, but also failed. Probably the cause in this case, also, was monopoly; small owners disliked the sale of timber to an owner without competitive bidding, and for a long term. [15]

The period before 1930 was one in which railroad logging was the accepted method of timber harvest. From an economic viewpoint it was best adapted to large clearcuts so the merchantable timber could be harvested while the rails were in place. Having harvested the timber, the management would have the rails taken up and moved to another logging show. In 1923, Ted Flynn on the Stanislaus National Forest in California developed the idea of placing a blade on the front of a Cletrac crawler tractor. Shortly thereafter, the Forest Service and the Killifer Manufactoring Company built a prototype of this type of machine. By 1932, a track-mounted tractor equipped with a blade received Forest Service approval—mostly for trail construction. Shortly, there were many manufacturers and the bulldozers or "cats" (short for Caterpiller—one of the companies building the bulldozers), as they became known, were readily used to build roads into logging areas. Gravel roads and bulldozers caused truck hauling to supplant railroads for log transportation. From a silvicultural point of view this allowed for leaving of single trees or blocks of trees for harvest at some future time, and for the selective logging of merchantable trees within a stand. [16]

The airplane was used increasingly for timber reconnaissance. Planes could, by use of aerial photographs, locate and plot the best bodies of timber, estimate volume and species, and locate the best road sites. Their use was aided by the development of lightweight radio equipment which was used in both timber reconnaissance and fire control. [17]

Another change was the use of the power saw. Some experiments were made with power saws both electric and gasoline in 1936 testing them against CCC workers using cross-cut saws. The gasoline power saw was found to be much speedier than the crosscut saw by a factor of six to one. However, woodsmen were suspicious of the early power saws, and not until the war were they seriously considered for use. It was found in 1942 that two fellers with a power saw could fell a seven-foot Douglas-fir in 18 minutes, as against two hours for the crosscut; and power saws gained speedy acceptance. [18]

More efficiency in the woods was matched by better mill utilization. Low stumps and small tops became the rule in timber sales. With the war, a demand for piling for shipyards led to several piling sales in the Oakridge area; and a reduction in standard for piling led to the harvest of trees formerly considered culls. [19] In the Sweet Home area plywood was made from these logs. Because prices were rising, operators found it feasible to go over old sales and to salvage long butts or culls to peel. The plywood industry in the 1930s had been a very small one; with plywood being used for airplanes, buildings, and boats, there came a plywood boom. It enabled the use of lower grades of lumber and became a major industry during and immediately after the war. [20]

These changes were accompanied by major changes in cutting practices. In old growth Douglas-fir the accepted method of harvest was that of clearcutting. This method was adapted to the railroad logging system of the time, since all the accessible trees could be harvested and the rails taken up afterward. It was desirable from a silvicultural point of view, since Douglas-fir reproduces best in the sunlight rather than shade and it simplified problems of slash disposal. In 1936, however, Burt Kirkland of the Snoqualmie National Forest and Alex Brandstrom of the Wind River Experiment Station made a series of studies on tractor logging in Douglas-fir. They concluded that selective logging (removal of individual trees) was feasible in the Douglas-fir area A controversy arose over this, pitting Thornton Munger and Leo Isaac against Kirkland and Brandstrom. The Washington Office was interested in such experimentation, and Regional Forester C.J. Buck became "sold" on the selective cutting idea and ordered that all future sales be conducted on a selection basis. One of the earliest sales of this type was made in 1939 in the Westfir sale of ten million board feet, made with light selective cutting and a 30 percent initial cut. Selective cutting became the rule until 1941; then the war led to the need for increased production, and getting the logs out of the woods by the best and quickest possible method. Clearcuts came back. The selective cutting era led to a great deal of experimentation and to a flexibility on timber harvests. [21]

Forest research continued. In 1910, as has been mentioned, the first permanent growth plots made by the Forest Service were established in the Willamette. Study of them continued. Thornton T. Munger reminisced on the changes time had wrought. Of 1910, he wrote, "From Eugene it was a day's ride in a horse stage over mud roads, then a cross-country walk, a row across the Middle Fork of the Willamette River, and a scramble up the hillside to the heart of the great tract of even-aged second growth. When I last measured them in 1945 it was but an hours drive from Eugene and a half mile walk by trail to reach them. In 1910 the 50 year old trees had but little value; in 1945, at age 90 they were much sought. Every five years from 1910 on the trees had been remeasured and a progress report made." [22]

Willamette NF timber sales figures in the 1920s had reached 60 million board feet by 1929, the period of the Coolidge-Hoover prosperity. It fell to 14 million in 1932 and 1933, the years of the Depression, rose slowly during the 1930s, and rapidly during the war to reach the figure of 144 (see Appendix). Access roads, more efficient logging and milling methods, and demand led to timber production becoming, by the end of the war, the most important economic use of the Willamette National Forest.

The period of the thirties was marked by major changes in fire control. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and CCC work-relief programs gave the Forest Service a reservoir of manpower to whom they could give presuppression and suppression fire training, so they did not have to rely, as in the past, on recruiting men to fight fires from the skidroad areas of Seattle or Portland.

Twenty-, thirty-, forty-, or fifty-men crews with special training in fire fighting, who could be rushed to any fire by truck, were organized. The "one-lick" method of fire fighting was developed, first on the east side of the mountains, and then applied to the west side. It is essentially an application of the assembly line technique to building a fire line, with each man trained in the use of a special tool and a special place in the line. Thus, instead of one man being responsible for a segment of the line, a crew of men, working at intervals of 8-20 feet—far enough so that the tools used would not endanger fellow workers—would work as a team to build the line. Line locaters would go first, trained men blazing the location of the line. Next would come a crew of axe men, cutting brush and down logs; next the Pulaski men, the heart of the team, who further cleared brush and started digging in the soil; next, the men with hazel hoes, who could widen the trail and dig deeper into mineral soil; and finally, the shovel men who would clear out the trail. Generally, 25 percent of the men were axe men and 25 percent Pulaski men; those with hazel hoes were about twice the number of the shovel men. Moving like a long snake around the trail, a crew was able to build a fire trail rapidly and effectively.

Many miles of access roads, partly to further timber sales and partly for fire control, were built, as were hundreds of miles of trail. The crawler tractor and bulldozer were increasingly used to build fire lines where terrain permitted, and planes used for fire spotting and for dropping tools or food. Dozens of lookouts were built during this period. The goal was to have lookouts which could see into every area, and to have all parts of the forest accessible within half an hour. Stake trucks got fire fighters to the fires quickly, and tank trucks and portable pumps brought water. Snags felled by CCC or FERA labor removed fire hazard. The Forest Service proved the usefulness of the chain saw in fire fighting in the 1941 Tumble Creek fire, where two chain saws were used to fell burning snags which were causing trouble. This episode called the value of chain saws to national attention. [23]


The New Deal period was one of social and economic experimentation. One idea that had a vogue at that time was for subsistence homesteads, that is, government aid in placing rural dwellers on tracts of land with decent housing and sufficient land on which to make a living, as a remedy for rural poverty. There were many aspects to this type of planning ranging from the Matanuska project in Alaska to the Malta project in Montana. The concept was actually an old one. In the Northwest it had taken the form of corporate or utopian colonies in Oregon and the Puget Sound area. There are elements of this type of thinking in the Forest Homestead Act of 1906. [24] An interesting development of this type occurred in the Oakridge area between 1931 and 1938. Oakridge and Westfir were the two largest forest communities in the Willamette National Forest. Detroit in the north was tributary to the larger settlement in Mill City; Blue River and McKenzie Bridge were hamlets; Cascadia, Lowell, and Sweet Home were on the periphery of the forest. Westfir and Oakridge, on the other hand, were well within the forest boundaries.

Oakridge was a long established incorporated village located on what had originally been an open prairie with groves of oak trees. Westfir, separated from Oakridge by a low timbered ridge, was a company town founded in 1924 as a result of the large timber sale up the North Fork. The combined population of the two towns in 1933 was about 1,000, with a rural population of about 600 nearby. Oakridge had a diversified economy based to a large extent on the forest, but there was also some agriculture, state and Federal work, and railroad work as well. Housing in both towns was substandard. In normal times the men worked in the mills, logging camps, and on the railroad, and some employment was available for transient workers. However, the lumber industry is subject to slumps, and in hard times the transients departed, the local workers faced the prospect of being laid off, and there was some economic distress as the Great Depression of the thirties continued.

As the Depression deepened, Ranger C.B. McFarland and Axel Lindh of the Regional Office studied ways in which the distress might be alleviated. Their studies began in 1931. In March, 1933—twenty-one days after President Roosevelt was inaugurated—they issued a report entitled "The Oakridge Vicinity Recreational and Industrial Land Unit." It is interesting that this plan for rural resettlement antedated the establishment of the Resettlement Administration and was largely formulated before the New Deal came into existence. The basic philosophy was that woods and mill workers might have sufficient land to have decent homes, raise gardens, keep chickens, cows and hogs, so that in times of depression they could survive unemployment.

The report stated that though the Forest Service could supply the timber sales that would potentially keep employment up, stagnation in the lumber industry would make for periods when sales were not made. In these periods of cyclical depression, families with small tracts of land could have gardens as well as hogs, cows, and chickens to help them get through the hard times. Others would have more difficulty, particularly in Westfir where all the residents were tenants. There was need for small tracts to be sold or leased to establish "stability and permanence of community."

Land already classified as agricultural under the Forest Homestead Act was not adequate or well enough located for the purpose. McFarland and Lindh proposed that some 2,500 acres in T.21 S., R.3 E., be surveyed for residential tracts. They proposed that the land be divided into small homesites of one-quarter to one-half acre each; larger ones, from three to seven acres; community woodlots, and campgrounds. Small homesites would be leased at $10 per year, larger ones at $3 per acre. The area should be zoned with scenic strips and small industrial sites included. The authors felt that there were European precedents for this classification, particularly in Scandinavian countries. [25]

The program continued under study. It was given additional encouragement by President Roosevelt's endorsement of the idea. In a press conference in February 1934, he spoke of forested areas in Europe where small farms were combined with forest work. Chief Ferdinand A. Silcox studied the matter as one method of eliminating the "cut and get out" cycle of forest use. Meantime, a subsistence homestead division was set up in the Department of Agriculture. It eventually evolved into the Resettlement Administration, and this in turn into the Farm Security Administration under Rexford Tugwell. Tugwell was favorably impressed with the idea. [26] In April 1935, Regional Forester C.J. Buck wrote to the Forester recommending the proposal and suggesting that an initial 143 acres be set aside for industrial homesites. CCC labor could be used in clearing and surveying the lots, and homes built using local lumber at $2,500 per unit. With the increased number of Willamette National Forest personnel in the area, 25 or 30 units could be leased to Forest Service employees. [27]

Buck, meantime, authorized a further study of the project to be carried on by Robert W. Putnam, junior forester. Putnam's report is a thorough sociological study of the area. The objectives of the project, he reported were to "eliminate direct relief, elevate living standards, and fortify the community against subnormal economic conditions." The people were able, in periods of relative prosperity to maintain themselves without outside help, but the Great Depression had reduced many to "abject poverty," and in 1933, 50 families were on relief. In Westfir the tenants rented from the company and obtained their supplies from company stores. This led to a growing indebtedness (Putnam used the term "serfdom" but Regional Forester C.J. Buck, in a penciled note, questioned the appropriateness of the term). The soil was arable; amenities such as churches, schools, stores, community hails, banks, and lodges for fraternal organizations were available. Putnam tentatively selected four tracts for homesites, totaling 53 acres. Cost of each homesite unit would be $2,844 and include house, garage, water, and septic tanks. [28]

However, the plan fell victim to interagency rivalries in Washington. On August 26, 1935, Tugwell wrote to Roosevelt: "You spoke to me the other day about forest communities such as they have in the Black Forest. Since August 1, a plan for one of these has been at Works Progress [Administration - WPA]. It has been decided I understand to smother it there. I just want to be relieved of responsibility." In September, Earl S. Pierce of the Forest Service lands division, wrote to Regional Forester Buck that the President felt it "would not serve the purpose of the relief program as fully as desired." [29]

Despite the rejection of the 1935 plan, sociological studies of the area continued to make the area a sustained yield unit. In 1938 the former plan was updated and reevaluated by assistant forester John B. Hongly and approved by Supervisor John R. Bruckart, which illustrated the changes that had come about over a period of years. A sharp contrast was drawn between Westfir and Oakridge. Westfir, a company town with a population of 957, had an expanding economy. But, as Hongly wrote, "The management is busy with its industrial and financial problems and...the Forest Service has not fully realized its social responsibility." Westfir had minimal public facilities—a grade school and a community hail. Oakridge, an incorporated village of 656 people with an adjacent rural population of 600, had its own government, in contrast with Westfir. Oakridge had a wide variety of public and semi-public facilities.

By the late 1930s, there was general prosperity; people on relief amounted to one percent of the population, as compared with 20 percent in 1933. Westfir developed a policy of recruiting married men with families for their workforce, as opposed to single men who were likely to be drifters. The mill employees belonged to the Industrial Employees Union (I.E.U.), and when a CIO organizer tried to organize the workers for the AFL-CIO, he was forcibly ejected from a union meeting. Wages were, on the average, five cents per hour above union scale. With the wage-hour legislation of the New Deal, more labor was needed. Wages dropped from an average of $1,350 per year for a woods worker and $1,000 for a mill worker in 1929 to around $300 per year in 1932, then rising to previous levels by 1938. With shorter hours of work—the traditional 48 hour week had been reduced to 44—there was more leisure time, and more time for recreation. Baseball, football, hunting, and fishing were the major sports, and dances were given weekly in the community hall.

Housing in Westfir was still on the tenant basis, but the housing had been upgraded by the company. The 1935 report listed 85 percent of the houses as unsuitable; this had been reduced to 65 percent and would decline to 35 percent as baths and toilets were added. The company was making an effort to upgrade conditions in the town.

Oakridge had acquired a new city water system with the aid of the Public Works Administration (PWA) grant. It had grown in population from 186 in 1934 to 656 in 1938. The village had a lively social life, with organized recreation, Boy and Girl Scouts, and many women's organizations. The Forest Service employees had played a large part in these activities. Housing in Oakridge, largely privately owned, was substandard, and on the private land along the highway near the village some rural slums were developing.

In Westfir there was need to encourage the company to consider sales, under Federal Housing Administration (FHA) regulations, of some of the better homes; and meantime to continue to modernize the existing ones. There was need for a station for the Forest Service timber sale officer located in Westfir, and for modernization of the logging camps projected in the sales area There was also a plan to revive the Oakridge Industrial Homestead project.

For the Forest Service there was need to try to extend the employment period for short-term personnel. These men, primarily trail workers, packers, and fire control personnel were hired for three to six months. Efforts were made to extend the period of employment to eight or nine months. Some money for this came from Knutson-Vandenberg (K-V) funds. [30]

As Westfir continued to thrive as a center for lumber production, more amenities were established. One project was a community church. The community hall had served this purpose for a time but it was also used for other community doings, and well-waxed floors for a Saturday night dance were not compatible with church services. In the fall of 1940, a community meeting was held, a finance and building committee appointed, and donations collected. A CCC carpenter was hired to direct the work and the church built with contributed labor. Lumber was donated by the Westfir Lumber Company. The church, with its incense cedar floors, old growth Douglas-fir siding and myrtle wood pulpit, became a main center for community activity. [31]

In addition to becoming a center for sociological interest, the Westfir-Oakridge area became a major center for research in logging practices. The 1923 sale of 685 million board feet to the Westfir Lumber Company had been the largest sale the Forest Service had made up to that time. By 1941 Westfir was operating on its third sale, and was one of six companies in the Northwest to whom Forest Service sales totaled over a million dollars. [32] Westfir offered an excellent opportunity to study silvicultural advantages of various logging methods in old growth Douglas-fir stands ranging from pure stands 170-years old to decadent 480-year-old stands. Cutting methods had varied from clearcuts to light selective cutting, and logging methods had shifted from railroad logging to use of tractors and trucks. At that time researchers were interested in how to handle old growth Douglas-fir stands, and Westfir offered them a good laboratory for study. Experiments showed the need for flexibility; no one system could be applied overall to a large area. Operations needed to combine tree selection, group selection and clearcutting, tractor logging and high-lead logging. There was need for close control over contracts, and close cooperation between the engineering staff of the Forest Service and the foresters of both the Service and the company. [33]


The era of the thirties and forties were years of major changes in management techniques relating to game and predators. Previously, the major emphasis in regard to game had been predator control, closed seasons, bag limits, and game refuges. Emphasis on habitat management now began to grow, especially a study of the role of predators in relationship to wildlife. These changes were sparked by some disastrous population explosions in areas like the Kaibab Plateau in Utah, due to overprotection and extermination of predators, who served as a natural control; and by research by a variety of scholars: Aldo Leopold in Wisconsin, George Shiras III in Michigan, and Ira Gabrielson of the USDA Biological Survey, among others. Their work was aided by local observers, such as Supervisor C.C. Hall and Ranger Corley B. McFarland. However, not until 1936 did the Forest Service establish a division of wildlife management. Much of the Biological Survey work was in predator control. On June 30, 1940, the Bureaus of Fisheries (Department of Commerce) and Biological Survey (Department of Agriculture) were combined to form the USDI Fish and Wildlife Service under the able leadership of Ira Gabrielson, a leading biologist of the Biological Survey. Under Gabrielson, there came a new emphasis on wildlife research.

In addition, in 1937 the Pittman-Robertson Act was passed. This placed a tax on sporting guns and ammunition. The money from the tax was to be used in acquisition of land, development of programs, and for research for wildlife conservation. The money would be distributed on a dollar matching basis to the states, in the proportion of 75 percent Federal money and 25 percent from the state. [34]

In the Willamette, game and fish management continued much as it had been during the previous decade. In 1936, McFarland reported stocking 21 lakes in the mountains with 215,100 fish, obtaining the fish from the Salmon Creek Fish Hatchery near Oakridge, and having packers and sheepmen cooperate in planting them. CCC labor was engaged in planting fish in various areas. Reports to the Biological Survey on game continued; they contained information on the health of elk herds, activities and status of predators, and winter kill among game birds. There came to be, after establishment of the Fish and Wildlife Service and passage of the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937, increasing cooperation between state biologists and Forest Service personnel in reconciling timber harvest and game habitat management. The most rapid expansion of such activity, however, came after the war, when the G.I. Bill of Rights (1944) led to a rapid expansion of eligible war veterans taking wildlife management courses in the colleges and universities. [35]

Grazing continued in the time honored manner, but gradually became less important as an economic activity in the Willamette. The major reason was a decline in the amount of grazing land. As one packer who had occupied the same range for 30 years said, "You've got a natural tree country here and not a grass country." Camps which had formerly supplied 30 days grazing now could supply 16 days at most; meadows formerly covered with grass now had a stand of lodgepole pine six feet high. Studies made in 1933 and 1934 indicated that reproduction was encroaching on range land at the rate of 2.5 percent per year. In 1922 the range available for grazing totalled 40,810 acres; by 1932 it was reduced to 38,075. In addition, the natural forces that had led to increase in open land—that is, fire were now pretty much a thing of the past. [36]

There were other factors as well. Mutton from New Zealand and Australia competed with the homegrown product after 1950. With more land in the high country dedicated to recreation, it became more difficult to find suitable sites for driveways to keep sheep off the highways, to travel across the divide, and to divert sheep travel from major recreational trails to lesser used ones. In 1937, areas around Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, and on the Skyline Trail were closed to all but recreationists. Between 1938 and 1944 all camps along the Skyline Trail were put off limits; by 1946 the Waldo Lake area was closed to sheep but not to cattle, as was use of the road to Odell Lake and Rigdon. With recreational pack trains traveling the Skyline Trail and to favored highland camps, competition between sheep and pack stock for forage grew. [37] In addition, with the war preparation, wages for sheepherders could not compete with potential work in the shipyards, and many young men were called up for military service. The old herders and camp tenders were dying off and few succeeded them. By 1945 the grazing activity, which had once been the dominant economic activity in the Willamette, was on its way out. [38]

The grazing files for this period offer their usual vivid picture of range management. Relations between the Forest Service and grazers, herders, and camp tenders remained cordial, as has been noted. Camp tenders aided the Forest Service in stocking mountain lakes with fish, and on occasion herders and camp tenders reported and assisted in putting out lightning fires. CCC boys were delighted with the opportunity to view at first hand the stockman's west, and on occasion assisted the herders in persuading recalcitrant sheep to cross stock bridges or to locate wandering lambs. With increased use of the forest for recreation, sheepherders were ordered to dig garbage pits and otherwise police their camps. The Forest Service with CCC help continued range improvement; in 1943 the Oakridge Ranger District put in some drift fences, built one stock bridge, two corrals, and cleared 49 miles of stock driveway. Range research continued; the early studies made by John Kuhns in 1916 were used as a basis for study of changes in carrying capacity. Most of the allotments showed a drastic reduction of available feed. After increased range research some areas were opened to cattle and horses and closed to sheep. This was the case with Minto Mountain, the Waldo Lake area, and also around Oakridge where sheep occupied the high country and cattle allotments were in the Grasshopper and High Prairie areas. [39]

The 1940s marked the passage of an important era in the history of the forest, with the shift from grazing to timber production as the major economic activity. And just as the clash between order and adventure had sparked conflict between forest managers and sheepmen in the late 1890s, so clashes between timber production and recreation brought about a new series of conflicts in the period after the war.


The thirties and forties continued the general trends established at an earlier period in regard to recreation, but some new factors that led to changes as profound as those in the timber industry were added. A new national emphasis was placed on the importance of recreation in the national forests. In 1933, pursuant to a Senate resolution introduced by Senator Royal S. Copeland, the Forest Service issued an overall plan for American forestry generally known as the Copeland Report. The section on recreation, written by Robert Marshall, summarized the varied uses of the forest for recreation and urged a process of classification and analysis of the needs of the people. This important report was the basic philosophy on which the Service acted in its land management. [40]

The Copeland Report echoed ideas expressed by key Region 6 officers. C.J. Buck, writing for the OSC Forestry Club paper, stressed the need for recreational planning, for building campgrounds, and the need for topographical and vegetation maps for planning purposes. Writing in the Journal of Forestry in the year the Copeland Report was published, he, like Marshall, stressed the need for recreational planning. [41] In the Regional Office Fred Cleator continued his planning for alpine highways and trails, and in the Willamette National Forest, Supervisor Pat Thompson, who thought not enough emphasis was placed on recreational planning, hired the Willamette's first recreation officer in the person of William Parke. [42] Parke, from that time on, acted as the forest's resident recreational planner.

The Civilian Conservation Corps provided the manpower to put Parke's plans into action. Parke and Thompson provided that 25 percent of the work of the CCC be expended in recreational facilities. This meant a vast increase in the number of campgrounds and increased facilities for their uses—campground shelters, garbage pits, toilets, tables, chairs, and the like. They built many miles of trails, and enabled the Forest Service to keep up with demands for recreational facilities, and to plan for increased use in the future.

The period was marked also by changing patterns in recreational use. The early recreational uses of the forest—hunting, fishing and camping, berry picking, photography—continued. Automobile camping increased; use of horses, except in the back country, declined. Mountain climbing increased; the customary Oregon groups who engaged in climbing—Mazamas, Obsidians, and Chemeketans—were increasingly joined by Californians who "discovered" these new peaks. But the thirties brought in a new interest in winter sports, especially skiing, and the Forest Service began to plan for year round recreation rather than for only spring, summer, and fall.

The Oregon Skyline Trail, established in 1920, proved to be increasingly popular. In 1934 William L Boyer made a reconnaissance of the trail and issued a detailed report. This included recommendations on relocation of hazardous or inconvenient stream fords; alternative routes over portions of the trail, evaluation of campsites and stock feed, and recommendations for building of shelters, latrines, and garbage pits; and recommendations on trail signs and maps. Much of the work recommended was carried out with CCC help. [43]

Work on a continuation of the Skyline Trail along the crest of the Cascade Range in Washington State was carried on during the 1930s. The Forest Service desired to continue the trail to the south in Region 5 (California), where already the John Muir Trail had been built in the central Sierra Nevada. However, S.B. Snow, Regional Forester for Region 5, dug in his heels. The Pacific Crest (Skyline) Trail in California, he wrote, was pretty much a myth. The northern part of Region 5 was simply too cut up with roads to make a good trail into desert and brush. Both the Sierra Club and the Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs had no interest in such a trail and had withdrawn from the Pacific Crest Trail Conference. Forester Lyle Watts wrote to say that the Skyline Trail literature need not mention Region 5. The general view of Region 5 was that it was "laying down" too fast. This episode seems something of an anomaly in view of present day California interest in the Oregon mountain lands and their management. [44]

As it has been noted, Fred Cleator favored the building of shelters on the Skyline Trail. A tragedy and the presence of the CCC labor helped to implement this program. In 1927 two young men were lost in a snowstorm while attempting to climb North or Middle Sister. Searchers had to hike in from Frog Camp, since there was no developed base camp near Three Sisters from which to begin the search. Their bodies were not found until the spring of 1928. The Obsidians approached Supervisor Thompson to have a shelter built at the base of the Three Sisters. When the CCC program was started in the spring of 1933, Supervisor Thompson directed Bill Parke to locate a site for such a shelter (to be called the Sunshine Shelter) and to build it. (The shelter was removed in 1972 because heavy use of the shelter was damaging the area.) With relief labor, the Forest Service decided to build a series of shelters along the trail. These were small, simple, open front affairs, built of whatever wood was available and roofed with shakes produced at one of the CCC camps. Such shelters were built at Mink Lake, Irish Lake, Charlton Lake, and South Waldo Lake. Other shelters of a similar type were built on the main trails for the convenience of trail workers and packers. [45]

The thirties also saw new developments in Region 6 recreational facilities. Beginning in 1928, skiing enthusiasts began to urge the Forest Service to establish public skiing areas. Such developments to that date had been private, consisting of the use of private lodges and cabins as headquarters for skiers. In 1928 the Forest Service made a series of studies of the Region, working with sports clubs from the Hood River and Portland areas. In 1935 construction of Timberline Lodge was authorized. The structure was mainly built with Works Progress Administration (WPA) labor and Mt. Hood rapidly became a national center for skiing activities. [46]

To the south, skiing became increasingly popular. The Obsidian Club became interested and a subsidiary group formed the Ski-Laufer Club. Weekend excursions were made by rail to Willamette Pass, by automobile to McKenzie Pass and Santiam Pass. In Eugene people felt that ski lodges and ski runs might be built with work-relief labor, and advisory groups of citizens with some Forest Service members, were established to look over possible locations.

The first two ski runs built by CCC labor were failures since they were in the wrong places. At White Branch, off the McKenzie Highway, a two-story lodge, cabins, and water and sanitation systems were set up, a ski run cleared from the second growth forest, and an access road built. Unfortunately it was at the 3,000 foot elevation, too low to acquire the snow depth needed for a long winter season. A second facility was built near McKenzie Summit at Hand Lake. This was a less elaborate structure consisting of a warming cabin, a ski run, and an access road. However, the Oregon State Highway Department did not keep McKenzie Pass open all year, so this project, too, was abandoned.

The completion of the Santiam Pass road in 1939 turned attention to that area. In March 1938, a group met a Fish Lake to study its possibilities. The first snowmobile in Lane County was used to transport equipment and people around the area. In addition to Forest Service personnel, members of the Obsidian and Ski-Laufer Clubs, the Chemeketans Club, the Santiam Fish and Game Association, and the Lions and Civic Clubs of Eugene were present. They decided on the Three Fingered Jack area, and plans were made to build a ski run and facilities near the top of the pass. A rival area, Hoodoo Butte, was also considered, and a special use permit granted to Edward Thurston to develop that area. The Forest Service, meantime, constructed Santiam Ski Lodge with CCC labor. It was built of timber cut from the neighboring forest and of the lava rock, and had bunks for 60 people, a large fireplace, kitchen and dining room, and a store. The lodge was operated under a special use permit.

Some skiing had been developed in the Odell and Crescent Lake area, accessible by rail, and after 1940 by the Willamette Highway. The Forest Service made on-the-ground studies there in April 1939; again, the Obsidian and Ski-Laufer Clubs were represented, together with residents of Crescent Lake and Odell Lake. They developed a downhill ski site, but building of facilities was delayed because of the outbreak of the war. Some of the land for the ski run was cleared by timber sales and logging operations, as well as by volunteer labor from the Obsidian and Ski-Laufer Clubs. By 1944 the area was set in operation with a rope lift and a snack bar, and a permit issued to Roy Temple. [47]

One unique structure built in the high country was the Dee Wright Observatory, a tribute to one of the unsung workers of the Service, the packer. Horse and mule transport were universal in the early days of the Service, and an honor roll of packers could be compiled of these people who got supplies to camps, carried in fire fighting equipment, stocked mountain lakes with fish, and became legendary story tellers. Dee Wright was one of these men. He joined the Forest Service about 1910 working first in the Mount Hood National Forest and later in the Willamette. A short, stocky man with sparkling eyes, he pioneered many trails in the high country, packed lookout structures up mountains all the way from Mt. Hood to Willamette Pass, and enthralled the CCC boys with his stories. In 1917, while on the Mt. Hood, he was kicked in the chest by his favorite mule "Dynamite." A heart attack took his life in 1934 while he was rowing a group of CCC men across the McKenzie River.

In 1926 Supervisor Macduff and Ranger Smith Taylor conceived the idea of establishing an observation point on the lava beds near McKenzie Pass, at a place from which all the major peaks were visible. They cleared off a small platform and placed a porcelain disk with pointer as a "peak finder." William Parke conceived the idea of elaborating the structure, and under his direction a turret shaped observatory was erected with CCC labor. It has walls two feet thick made of the native lava rock, gothic windows, and small openings which point to the various peaks, and a bronze peak finder on the roof. [48]

In the 1930s and 1940s a transportation network was completed linking all parts of the forest. This included the Santiam and the Willamette Highways linking eastern and western Oregon. Cleator's dream of a skyline highway paralleling the Oregon Skyline Trail was not realized as a unit. However its equivalent was produced by completing gaps which had existed in the north-south network of roads. This included a road link connecting Breitenbush and Detroit with Estacada; closing the gap between Detroit and Little Nash Crater on the new North Santiam Highway; building the link between Clear Lake and Belknap Springs (referred to as the "Clear Lake Cutoff"); and building a road from the McKenzie Highway southward up the South Fork of the McKenzie River to Oakridge. [49]

Standards established earlier, and described in the previous chapter, for preserving roadside beauty were continued. On the Willamette Highway no timber sales were permitted within 500 feet of the right-of-way unless approved by the Regional Forester. Such cutting was to be for sanative purposes only, and was to be selective. In the Rigdon area, where some of the land was held in a checkerboard pattern by Pope and Talbot, the company agreed to abide by Forest Service regulations regarding roadside and streamside scenic values. These included "careful road location and logging on their own lands," and preserving waterside and roadside vegetation on each side of the main road and on the tributaries of the Willamette River "regardless of land ownership." On both the tributaries and on the main river, 200 feet were to be left untouched. [50]

On the South Santiam Highway an organization camp was set up at Longbow. Upper Soda already had a large complex of resorts and summer homes. As in the Willamette Highway area, protection was given to roadsides and streamsides. In the Hoodoo Ski Area a shelter and springhouse were built, as well as an organization building for outdoor clubs. [51]

As has been mentioned, Supervisor Thompson hired William Parke as a recreation planner. Parke was a 1932 graduate from the school of forestry, Oregon State College, and had enrolled in the University of Oregon to take graduate work in the school of landscape architecture. Parke was hired to survey and prepare site plans for campgrounds, picnic areas, organization camps, summer homes, ranger stations, and guard stations using CCC labor to build them. Thompson also made the important decision that 25 percent of each camp's work force be used for recreational projects.

For efficiency in getting the projects under way, Thompson asked Parke to set up a training program for CCC foremen so they could better direct the recreational work. The first such session was held at the Belknap CCC camp. Each foreman was given plans for building pit toilets, garbage pits, tables, benches, fireplaces, entrance portals, and the like. A site plan was prepared for Horse Creek and each foreman took a few CCC enrollees from Belknap and set them to work. Within two weeks the site was completed. From then on each CCC camp split cedar shakes, whipsawed logs into boards, and gathered other material which was stockpiled at Belknap. Sheds were built so work could be carried on in inclement weather. During the CCC period, over 80 campgrounds, picnic sites, winter sports areas, organization camps, and observation points were built with the aid of CCC labor. In addition, new ranger stations and guard stations were built and landscaped to provide a pleasing appearance to the public. [52]


The Civilian Conservation Corps was one of the major accomplishments of the New Deal. During the closing days of the Hoover administration some limited funds had been made available for putting men to work on conservation projects, largely related to road and trail work. President Roosevelt called for a full-scale use of manpower in work relief to conserve, protect, and renew natural resources. The Emergency Conservation Work Act was passed on March 31, 1933. Roosevelt used the term "Civilian Conservation Corps" for this work and the term gained currency. The act was extended by Congress and in 1937 was supplemented by formal establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps name.

The CCC program was administered by resource agencies in the Departments of Agriculture and Interior. The Department of Labor did the recruiting, the War Department operated the camps and ran the educational program, and the resource agencies carried on the field activities. Enrollment for six-month periods was open to young men 18-23 years of age. Pay was $30 per month, of which $25 was sent to the parents. Foremen were largely local men, often loggers or Forest Service retirees.

The CCC was the most important work relief program in the Willamette. Other programs played some part, including the Federal Emergency Relief Administration of 1933, designed to give work/relief to adult men.

The program proved to be highly successful, and is generally regarded as one of the most satisfactory of the New Deal programs. It achieved its basic goal of relieving unemployment; it gave three million young men a new start in life, and a new outlook; and it achieved its main objective of conserving and renewing natural resources. Many career officers of the Army, slow to gain promotion and out of public favor because of the isolationist temper of the times, found the work challenging and brought good professional judgement to bear on the project. To the Forest Service, it offered a challenge and an opportunity. From the establishment of the Forest Service, the policy had been for the organization to choose its own personnel on the basis of merit. The CCC enrollees, however, were chosen by an outside agency on criteria other than merit; they were untrained, unskilled, and without basic education, yet they were willing and able to work if given the opportunity. The Forest Service was given the task of training and working with possibly refractory human material. On the other hand, it gave the Forest Service the manpower needed to complete its assigned tasks.

Regional Forester C.J. Buck, in a letter to his Forest Supervisors, dealt with many of these things. The program, he wrote, would alleviate "the social devastation of unemployment." The manpower would enable the Forest Service to complete its development work, give the Service a fire fighting force, and a planting crew. [53]

Directives for the CCC stressed their role in forest development. The words "locate," "identify," "protect," and "enhance" were frequently used in these directives. Their objective was not only to take care of present needs but also to plan for the future. In construction of buildings, they were to use wood to the greatest extent possible. In administration, the Washington Office issued improvement handbooks on the use of wood; the Regional Office set up site plans and landscaping standards; the national forests prepared site recommendations and selected places for recreation and other developments. There was, as in most Forest Service work, a great deal of overlapping of functions rather than tight military chain of command planning. Officials from the Washington Office visited the Northwest and adapted plans prepared in the office to the realities of the field; Cleator and Horton of the Regional Office worked closely with Thompson and Parke in planning in the Willamette National Forest. [54]

The CCC housing in Oregon—and indeed in all areas except Alaska, Puerto Rico, and on Indian reservations—was based on 200-man camps (there were no women camps). The camps were composed of long barracks used as sleeping quarters, latrines and wash sheds, cook shacks, and other buildings used for work shops, recreation, or education. In the Willamette National Forest four major camps and eight side camps—smaller camps, built for special projects—were built. The main camps were Belknap, located at the site of the present McKenzie Ranger Station; Oakridge, located at the site of the Pope and Talbot mill; Fall Creek, near Lowell, close to the Fall Creek Reservoir and Cascadia, at the junction of Canyon Creek and the Santiam River. In 1938 this camp was moved to a site near Idanha. Side camps included one near Quartzville; one at Rigdon on the site of the old Ranger Station some 22 miles south of Oakridge; one at Fish Lake; one on Humbug Creek, near Breitenbush; one on Seven Mile Hill; another at Snow Creek; and one at Bear Pass. In addition to these, workers on trail crews lived in tents or occupied Adirondack shelters built by the Forest Service. [55]

The CCC enrollees in the Willamette National Forest were largely young men of rural origins, mainly from the midwest or from Oregon. To judge from the records, there was much less difficulty in training these crews to work than in some of the CCC camps on other forests, where enrollees came from cities and did not know one end of an axe from the other, or from Appalachia, where their mores and manners resulted in cultural shock to the Northwesterners. The Willamette enrollees were a hard-working, well-behaved group, interested in new experiences—panning for gold in the Quartzville area, fishing, listening to tall tales told by Dee Wright or other old-timers, and enjoying the outdoor life.

The forest communities readily accepted the relief workers, and they played an active part in community affairs. Records show the formation of bowling teams, baseball teams, basketball teams, pinochle and bridge clubs, and the like. Baseball teams competed against town teams. Dances in Oakridge, Detroit, and Westfir were attended by CCC boys. CCC enrollees joined town fire departments in putting out fires, assisted in rescue work and searches for lost children. School teachers and foresters gave lectures in CCC camps on a variety of subjects, many related to conservation and the history of forestry. There was a strong community sense in the towns at that time, and the work/relief people became part of the communities.

The CCC camps had educational activities as part of their program, and a great deal of instruction was carried on. A large part of the education, of course, was on-the-job vocational training, carried on as part of the work. Camp fire meetings with programs and lectures were popular, and some formal classes, some with university men on vacation serving as lecturers, were presented. Residents of communities supplied games, magazines, and books for the camps. [56] High school instruction was carried on for those who did not have high school diplomas.

A tremendous amount of work was done by CCC enrollees. In the Detroit Ranger District some of the earliest work was snag falling. Local men worked a six-hour day, 30 hours a week, at wages averaging $2.44 par day, working from January 1, 1933, until early May of that year; 22,095 snags were felled, at a cost for wages of $5,974, and a total cost of $7,657.45. This snag falling proved its value a few years later when it prevented a fire in the Breitenbush area from spreading. [57]

The CCC program stressed working with wood; and Belknap became a center for such work. A "Chinese saw"—that is a whipsaw—was built and logs were sawed into planks. Planks were smoothed with a sharp double bitted axe, and then with a regular plane. Benches, tables, and chairs were built using patterns from a book on furniture-making prepared for the Forest Service, and these pieces were transported to campgrounds or used to furnish guard stations or CCC barracks. Shakes were split with froes for roofing shelters in the campgrounds. Privies of the style immortalized by Chic Sale in The Specialist, were constructed for campgrounds. Experienced local men trained in carpentry and masonry helped the CCC men to construct ranger stations, garages, and storage shelters. Many of these structures still stand, a tribute to the strength of their basic design.

Buildings in the areas, and their grounds, were improved in appearance by landscaping, the building of stone walls, and planting of trees and flowering shrubs. Campgrounds were improved with privies, tables, benches, communal shelters, fireplaces, garbage pits, and the like. The additions of new campgrounds and the facilities took care of the vast postwar influx of visitors until the 1960s.

CCC labor was used for road work. The Forest Service at that time had few bulldozers so CCC labor was mostly hand work. It involved mainly pick and shovel work, and some skilled CCC workers were used to blast rocks, while others operated dump trucks. The CCC labor enabled the Service to complete a vast road building program. The workers also built structures connected with fire control which increased the number of lookout buildings on the forest. Thirty-seven lookouts were built on previously unoccupied peaks, and nearly all of the old lookouts were improved or rebuilt. Trails and telephone lines were improved and, as has been mentioned, the CCC men proved to be good fire fighting crews. The combination of vigilance and manpower, together with favorable weather, was a major factor in the fact that there were few large fires in the Willamette during this period. [58]

The CCC program and other work/relief programs were phased out with the outbreak of war. They left behind an important legacy.


The war brought about the final process in "Taming a Wild Forest." The resources of the forest, particularly the timber resources, were called up to help the war effort. The number of timber sales went up from 85 in 1940 to 160 in 1944; volume cut increased from 44,511,000 board feet in 1940 to 144,818,000 in 1944; the price per thousand board feet rose from $1.90 in 1940 to $4.02 in 1944; and the total value of timber sales from $84,757 in 1940 to $582,455 in 1944 (see Appendix). [59] The demand for lumber continued after the war; the price of lumber remained high, and for 15 years there was a general period of prosperity for the industry.

Productivity was aided by both prosperity and technology. Power saws, eyed with suspicion in 1940, were used universally by 1945. Bulldozers, power wagons, jeeps, and huge logging trucks aided in getting the logs out of the woods. There was far less waste in producing lumber. This came about with the utilization of less select lumber, and of species previously little used, such as white fir; plywood production, which could utilize inferior logs; and more utilization of waste products such as sawdust. There was an increase in the number of small sales. A small operator with a tractor and bulldozer, a portable loading rig, and power saws could set up a business for himself.

As in World War I, many Forest Service men were called to the armed services. The shortage was met by volunteers. The call went out in state and Federal governmental publications and in the newspapers for volunteers. The Oregonian for March 22, 1942, carried headlines reading "On the Vast Wilderness Tract Foresters Are on the Lookout for Bombs and Enemy Fire Bugs," and L.F. Kneipp of the Washington Office told of the need for lookouts to work with state and Federal foresters, and for 40-person fire crews to be taught the one-lick method. Reservists between the ages of 18 and 60—the lower age later dropped to 16—were called upon to apply for work. Outdoor clubs like the Mazamas, called on their members to use vacation time working for the Forest Service or state forestry. Such volunteers in 1943 staffed 32 fire stations in the Mt. Hood National Forest and one in the Siuslaw National Forest. [60] In the Willamette, Jump Off Joe was taken care of by the employees of the local power company, while Battleaxe in the Detroit District was staffed by members of the Chemeketan Hiking Club. Camps for conscientious objectors were established: No. 21 Cascade Locks (Mt. Hood NF), No. 56 Waldport (Siuslaw NF), and No. 59 Elkton (O&C Revested Lands Administration in Douglas County). The Willamette, with others in the northwest, was able to carry on through the fire season with this help. [61]

In national defense, the Forest Service was mobilized. Fear of incendiarism first centered on the possible use of phosphorous which the IWW had used with deadly effect in eastern Washington during World War I. But there was a major fear of air raids; and these fears were realized when in 1942 a plane from a Japanese submarine dropped an incendiary bomb near Brookings. Later, fire balloons were sent over—paper balloons with explosive and incendiary devices attached— designed to be carried from Japan on the high air currents. [62] When the war began there was no coast radar so Aircraft Warning Stations were established along the West Coast. Staffed 24-hours a day, these stations reported to a central filter center, by phone or radio, all aircraft passing within sight or hearing distance. This network was established early in 1942. There was need for such stations in the national forests, so some lookout stations were winterized for this use. Observers—usually husband and wife teams in order to avoid cabin fever—kept 24-hour watch in shifts, seven days a week. They reported by phone or the portable radios that the Forest Service had developed. In the Willamette, such stations were established on Gold Hill, Gold Point, and Hardesty Mountain. The posts were phased out in 1944 when the coast radar was established. [63]


1 Clawson and Held, The Federal Lands, 34-35.

2 Six Twenty-Six, 19:2 (1925), 54.

3 Bruckart File, WNF/H; Bruckart File, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region, Portland.

4 John B. Smith to Joe Elliot, March 23, 1980, Bruckart File, WNF/H.

5 Six Twenty-Six, 23:3 (March, 1939), 3-4.

6 Six Twenty-Six, 23:4 (April, 1939), 4-5.

7 Henry Clepper, Leaders in American Conservation, 201.

8 A good survey of these developments is to be found in McKinley, Uncle Sam, 298-303.

9 Detroit Ranger District and Sweet Home Ranger District files; History notes of the Lowell District; Ray Engles Interview, all in WNF/H.

10 William F. Cummins, "Recollections of the Oakridge Ranger District," WNF/H.

11 Good discussion of sustained yield are found in Rodney C. Loehr (ed) Forests for the Future: The Story of Sustained Yield as Told in the Diaries and Papers of David T. Mason (St. Paul, Minn., 1952).

12 Alex Brandstrom, Development of Industrial Forestry in the Pacific Northwest (Colonel William G. Greeley Lectures in Industrial Forestry No. 1: Seattle, University of Washington School of Forestry, 1957); Clepper, Professional Forestry, 197-212, 269-286.

13 Loehr, Forest for the Future, 197-199, 203, 215-216; Sweet Home File, WNF/H.

14 Dana, Forest and Range Policy, 284-285, 302-303.

15 Sweet Home File, WNF/H.

16 McKinley, Uncle Sam, 298-303; Six Twenty-Six, 25:11 (1941), 4-5; 25:8 (1941) 18-19; James A. Young and Jerry D. Budy, "Adaptation of Tracklaying Tractors for Forest Road and Trail Construction," Journal of Forest History, 31:3 (1987), 122-132.

17 Clepper, Professional Forestry, 166-177; Gary Cravey Gray, Radio For the Fireline (Washington, 1982), 141-147.

18 John H. Woods, "Blitz Over the Cascades," American Forests, 48:1 (1942), 15-19, 47; Stewart H. Holbrook, "The Forest Goes to War," American Forests, 48:2 (1942), 55-62; Six Twenty-Six, 20:5 (1936), 29.

19 Cummins, Recollections, WNF/H.

20 N.S. Perkins, "The Douglas Fir Plyboard Industry," American Forests, 48:3 (1942), 116-122; Six Twenty-Six, 25:2 (1941), 24-25.

21 Alex Brandstrom, Industrial Forestry; Thornton T. Munger, Forest Research in the Northwest, 121-132, 177.

22 Thornton Munger, Forest Research in the Northwest, 42-47. Pictures, pages 41 and 43, show Munger at work in 1910.

23 McKinley, Uncle Sam, summarizes these developments. Specialized articles on the "one-lick" method include George H. Schroeder, "The Progressive Methods of Forest Fire Control," Journal of Forestry, 40:1 (1942), 11-14, and Robert N. McIntyre, "The Variable-Lick Method—An Approach to Greater Efficiency in the Construction of the Fire Control Line," Journal of Forestry, 40:7 (1942), 609-614. Snag falling benefits are described in John H. Woods, "Blitz Over the Cascades," American Forests, 48:1 (1942)15-18, 41, described the Tumble Creek fire. There is a voluminous file of lookouts and fires at the Oakridge Ranger Station, Westfir.

24 Stewart H. Holbrook, Far Country (New York, 1952), 53-70,145-159, tells of some of these places.

25 Alex Lindh and C.B. McFarland, "Report on Oakridge Recreational and Industrial Land Unit, Cascade National Forest, March 25, 1933," WNF/H.

26 Edgar B. Nixon (ed.) Franklin D. Roosevelt and Conservation (Hyde Park, 1957), I, 257-258, 419. On the Resettlement Administration, see a good account of its work and philosophy in Joseph Kinsey Howard, Montana: High, Wide and Handsome (New Haven, 1943), 303-305.

27 C.J. Buck to the Forester, April 19, 1935, WNF/H.

28 "Preliminary Report on the Proposed Oakridge Forest Community," May 27, 1935," WNF/H.

29 Nixon, Franklin D. Roosevelt, I, 419; Earl S. Pierce to C.J. Buck, September 24, 1935, WNF/H.

30 "Preliminary Report on Proposed Oakridge Forest Community," Robert W. Putnam, dated May 29, 1935, WNF/H; "Report of Dependent Settlement: Oakridge - Westfir Community, Willamette N.F.," by John P. Hongly, approved by J.R. Bruckart, dated November 8, 1938, WNF/H; for information about the Industrial Employees Union (I.E.U.), a new name for the old Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen (4L) "union" of employers and employees, see Vernon H. Jensen, Lumber and Labor (New York, 1935), 209, 227-228.

31 Six Twenty-Six, 25:10 (1941), 18-19.

32 Six Twenty-Six, 25:1 (1941), 17.

33 Six Twenty-Six, 25:1 (1941), 4-5; 25:10 (1941), 28; 26:2 (1942), 19-20.

34 James B. Trefethen, An American Crusade for Wildlife (New York, 1975), 228-229, 238-239.

35 Six Twenty-Six, 20:2 (1936), 19.

36 Six Twenty-Six, 17:1 (1933), 10; H.C. Rooper to Nelson Macduff, December 15, 1921, Rooper Ranch File, Grazing, WNF/H; Grazing Permit Plan, Willamette National Forest (ca. 1934).

37 1937 Grazing File, Willamette NF, WNF/H; Memo, January 5, 1960, to Supervisor from District Ranger, Grazing File.

38 The decline can be followed in the H.C. Rooper file, Rooper had grazed the area since the 1880s. In 1940 he reduced his usual application for range for three bands to one band, and by 1942 he decided to keep his band at home, since it was hard to get herders. Rooper File, Grazing Records, WNF/H.

39 Grazing files, WNF/H; William F. Cummins, "Recollections"; Grazing Forest Plan, Willamette NF, 1934.

40 Robert Marshall, "The Forest for Recreation," A National Plan for American Forestry, 73rd Congress 1st Session, Senate Document 12; Washington, 1933, 463-525.

41 C.J. Buck, "A Forester's Work in Recreation," OSC Annual Cruise, 10 Corvallis, 1929. Buck, "The Place of Recreation in the Forest Program," Journal of Forestry, 31:2 (1933), 191-198.

42 William Parke, "Supervisor Perry Thompson," WNF/H.

43 Report by William L. Boyer, Skyline Trail, 1934, Box 14684, Portland Warehouse, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region.

44 S.B. Snow to Regional Forester, September 2, 1939; Lyle Watts to Snow, August 9, 1939, Box 14684, Portland Warehouse, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region.

45 Interview with William Parke by Gerald Williams, WNF/H; Bill Parke to Michael Kerrick, April 17, 1986.

46 Jack Grauer, Mt. Hood: A Complete History (Portland, 1975), 54-57, 63-72.

47 Roy Elliott, "White Magic in the Mountains," (c. 1982) Recreation File WNF/H; W.N. Parke, "Winter Sports Area Survey in the Santiam Pass Area," Eugene, 1958, Winter Recreation Sites - Ski Areas File, 2300-3, WNF/H.

48 On Wright's work on the Mt. Hood, see Grauer, Mt. Hood, Fred McNeil, Wy'East on the observatory, a good account is in the Six Twenty-Six, 26:4, 14.

49 The best analysis of this can be shown by comparing roads completed in 1920, 1930, and 1938 on Forest Service maps.

50 Willamette Highway Unit, Oakridge, 1940; Upper Willamette Highway Recreational Unit, West of Oakridge, McFarland, 1939; Rigdon Recreational Unit, March 22, 1949, Bruckart, WNF/H.

51 Report on Santiam Highway, Recreation Plan by J.R. Bruckart, March 7, 1940, WNF/H.

52 Bill Parke, "Supervisor Perry Thompson," WNF/H.

53 C.J. Buck to Supervisor, July 17, 1933, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region, FY 1933-1934, Box 57691, Federal Records Center, Seattle.

54 John A. Salmond, "Roosevelt's Tree Army": A History of the Civilian Conservation Corps (Durham, NC, 1964); Alison T. Otis, William D. Honey, Thomas C. Hogg, and Kimberly K Lakin, The Forest Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps: 1933-42 (Washington, 1986) FS-395 for the Forest Service; Elizabeth Gail Throop, "Utterly Visionary and Chimerical: A Federal Response to the Depression," M.A. Thesis, Portland State University, 1979, 28-32; and Gerald W. Williams, "The Civilian Conservation Corps' (CCC) Contribution to the Forests in the Pacific Northwest," in Harold K Steen (ed) History of Sustained-Yield Forestry: A Symposium (Santa Cruz, 1984).

55 Gale Burwell to Donald Hobart, Permanent CCC Camps, WNF/H.

56 Jon Silvermoon, Cultural Resource Inventory and Mitigation Report for the McKenzie Ranger Station Site Development Project and the Belknap Civilian Conservation Corps Camp, Willamette National Forest, 1984, has a wealth of material.

57 Six Twenty-Six, 17:12 (1933), 16.

58 Silvermoon, Cultural Resource; Six Twenty-Six, 18:4 (1934), 20; 18:5, 15-16; 18:8, 20; 18:9, 16-17, Data on lookouts was obtained from Ron Johnson, Oakridge Ranger Station, Westfir.

59 Timber Sale Business, Willamette National Forest, 1940-1949," WNF/H.

60 Representative material is found in Fred McNeil, "Forest Service Reserves," Keep Oregon Green Quarterly, November, 1943, 9; Forest Log, 3 (October, 1943), 8; Eyes Aloft, 2:7, July, 1943,12; Cottage Grove Sentinel, March 26, 1942; Oregon Journal, July 22, 1942; Mazama, 24:12 (December, 1942).

61 Jump Off Joe File; Detroit File, WNF/H; Blue River File, WNF/H.

62 Bert Webber, Retaliation: Japanese Attacks and Allied Counter Measures on the Pacific Coast in World War II (Corvallis, 1976) is an excellent summary; regarding conscientious objector camps in Oregon, see William Everson, "Waldport: An Interview with William Everson," Imprint: Oregon, 5:1-2 (Fall-Spring), 1-41.

63 Material furnished by Ron Johnson, Oakridge Ranger Station, Westfir.



Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office as President on March 20, 1933. The "New Deal" era began.

A "National Plan for American Forestry," known as the "Copeland Report," was submitted to the Senate on March 27 by the Secretary of Agriculture. It made two main recommendations: A large extension of public ownership and more intensive management of all publicly owned lands.

The Act of March 31 (48 Stat. 22) appropriated funds for the dual purpose of relieving unemployment and promoting conservation of natural resources. In addition to other activities it authorized use of the funds for forest research and for acquisition of land by purchase, donation, condemnation, or otherwise. Executive Order of April 5 established the Office of Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) as an independent agency, which was popularly known as the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA) of May 12 (48 Stat. 55), and subsequent amendments, provided funds for the relief of unemployment which were used in part for forestry and other conservation activities.

The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of June 16 (48 Stat. 195) attempted to promote economic recovery by a wide variety of measures, including codes of fair competition, an extensive public-works program, and subsistence homesteads. The Code of Fair Competition for the Lumber and Timber Products Industries, approved August 21, led to the adoption (March 23, 1934) of a Forest Conservation Code which required for various divisions of the industry to formulate and enforce rules of forest practice.

Chief Robert Y. Stuart died October 23rd, and was succeeded by Ferdinand A. Silcox on November 15, 1933.


The National Forest Refuge Act of March 10, 1934, permitted tracts of national forests to be set aside as game refuges with state permission.


The Resettlement Administration was established by Executive order of April 30. In 1936 it was transferred to the Department of Agriculture, and in 1937 it was changed to the Farm Security Administration.


The Flood Control Act of June 22 (49 Stat. 1570) recognized the fact that flood control on navigable waters or their tributaries is a proper activity of the Federal government, in cooperation with the states and their political subdivisions. It provided that thereafter Federal investigations and improvement would be under the jurisdiction of the War Department, and Federal investigations of watersheds and measures for runoff and water-flow retardation and soil-erosion prevention on watersheds under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture. The act authorized interstate flood-control compacts and authorized a long list of projects for prosecution by the Army Engineers.

Amendments in 1937 (50 Stat. 876) and 1938 (52 Stat. 1215) authorized additional surveys and examinations at specific localities and directed the Secretary of Agriculture to make runoff and erosion surveys on all watersheds specified for flood-control surveys by the Secretary of War. The 1937 act also authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to impose such conditions as he might deem necessary in prosecuting measures for retarding runoff and preventing erosion on non-Federal lands.


An "upstream engineering" conference called by President Roosevelt was held in Washington, September 22 to 23, to emphasize the importance of this phase of flood and erosion control.

The Act of June 28 (50 Stat. 319) established the Civilian Conservation Corps as the official successor to the Emergency Conservation Work; provided in detail for its administration; authorized the use of ten hours a week for educational and vocational training on a voluntary basis; and extended its life to June 30, 1940. In 1939 (53 Stat. 1253), the CCC was continued through June 30, 1943. Subsequent acts extended its life through June 30, 1944.


The Concurrent Resolution of June 14 (52 Stat. 1452) created a Joint Congressional Committee on Forestry to study the present and prospective situation with respect to the forest land of the United States and to make a report and recommendations by April 1, 1939. The time limit was later extended to April 1, 1941. The report was presented March 24, 1941.


The Reorganization Plan No. 11 of July 1, 1939, was a Presidential Order to combine the Bureau of Fisheries (Department of Commerce) and the Bureau of Biological Survey (Department of Agriculture) as the Fish and Wildlife Service (Department of the Interior).

Ferdinand A. Silcox, Chief of the Forest Service, died on December 20. Earle H. Clapp served as Acting Forester until 1943.

C.J. Buck transferred to the Washington Office. Replaced by Lyle F. Watts.


The Lea Act of April 26 (54 Stat. 168) provided for Federal cooperation in the protection of forest lands from white pine blister rust, irrespective of ownership, provided that on state or private lands. Federal expenditures must be at least matched by state or local authorities or by individuals or organizations.

The "Domestic Water Supply" Act of May 28 (54 Stat. 224) authorized the President, on the basis of a cooperative agreement between the Secretary of Agriculture and the municipality concerned, to withdraw national forest lands from which a municipality obtains its water supply from all forms of location, entry, or appropriation. The Secretary of Agriculture may prescribe such rules and regulations as necessary for adequate protection of the watershed.

The Fish and Wildlife Service (F&WS) was established in the Department of the Interior on June 30th under Ira Gabrielson. F&WS came from the combination of the Bureaus of Fisheries (USOC) and Biological Survey (USDA).


The Acts of July 2, 1942 (56 Stat. 562, 569) and July 12, 1943 (57 Stat. 494, 499) provided for liquidation of the C.C.C. as quickly as possible but not later than June 30, 1944. Liquidation of most of the personnel was accomplished by August 15, 1942.


Lyle F. Watts was appointed Chief of the Forest Service on January 8th. Horace "Hoss" J. Andrews replaced Watts as Regional Forester.


The Sustained-Yield Forest Management Act of March 29 (58 Stat. 132) authorized the Secretary of Agriculture and/or the Secretary of the Interior to establish cooperative sustained-yield units consisting of Federal forest land and private forest land or Federal sustained-yield units consisting only of Federal forest land, when in their judgement the maintenance of stable communities is primarily dependent upon Federal stumpage and when such maintenance cannot be secured through usual timber-sale procedures. Provision is made for the sale of Federal stumpage to cooperating landowners or to responsible purchasers within communities dependent on Federal stumpage, without competitive bidding at prices not less than the appraised value of the timber.

The Act of May 5 (58 Stat. 216) amended the Clarke-McNary Act of 1924 by authorizing annual increases in the appropriation for cooperative forest-fire protection with the states and for studies of tax laws and forest-fire insurance up to a maximum of nine million dollars for the fiscal year 1948 and thereafter.

The Act of May 31 (58 Stat. 265) authorized an annual appropriation of $750,000 to complete the initial survey of forest resources inaugurated by the McSweeney-McNary Act of 1928, with the stipulation that total appropriations for this purpose should not exceed $6,500,000. An additional appropriation of $250,000 annually was authorized to keep the survey current.

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Last Updated: 08-Dec-2008