Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the CCC

Company 831, Camp NP-1-NM, Calrsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad, New Mexico

From Bob Hoff, Park Historian

Thank you for your interest in the history of Civilian Conservation Corps activities here at Carlsbad Caverns.

Carlsbad Cave National Monument was established on October 25, 1923; on May 14, 1930, the monument was re-designated as Carlsbad Caverns National Park. In 1934, the U.S. government purchased 79 acres at Rattlesnake Springs, about six miles away, as a source for the park’s water supply. While Rattlesnake Springs did not become part of the park until December 1963, Carlsbad Caverns National Park administered it from 1934 on.

Today, the park contains two historic districts—The Cavern Historic District and The Rattlesnake Springs Historic District. Each district contains structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Camp NP-1-N was established at Rattlesnake Springs in July 1938. The Civilian Conservation Corps worked on park projects from August 1, 1938 to May 22, 1942. At Rattlesnake Springs, the CCC enrollees built a ranger residence still in use today. They also constructed a service road and a water diversion ditch and constructed masonry work to line the Rattlesnake Springs pond. While National Park Service Landscape Architect Harvey Cornell provided the plans for the CCC camp layout in 1938, it is not clear to what extent CCC enrollees constructed the CCC camp.

In The Caverns Historic District remains several structures constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps: two employee tri-plexes, occupied today by employees, and two maintenance buildings, also used today in our maintenance facility operation. The CCC enrollees also built a parking lot close to the where our visitor center stands today, but in those days stood the elevator building.

Please see attached basic building information, information from National Register nomination forms, and photo copies of all CCC-constructed buildings at Carlsbad Caverns still standing. Also, please see the listing of some of the other work the CCC enrollees did for us during their four-year tenure here.

The buildings were designed in the New Mexico Territorial Revival Style, using flat roofs and wood beams(some beams for support, others for decoration) called vigas. This was a reflection of a local southwestern area architectural style, not a nationwide architectural standard.

Currently, we are not aware of any of these buildings being documented by the Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Record. Historic materials about the CCC program at Carlsbad Caverns beyond what have might exist in storage at the Federal Records Center in Denver, Colorado.

A group of Civilian Conservation Corps members did have a reunion here in 1990. However, we do not have an address list of those participants.

On May 21, 2000, members of the Chapter 141, CCC Alumni Organization (New Mexico) assisted us in dedicating a CCC wayside exhibit here in the park.

Some Specific Projects the CCCs accomplished here:

Civilian Conservation Corps Work Projects

at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, 1938-1942

At the Cavern, the CCC enrollees built:

Two triplex employee residences at the main cavern (1940-42; one residence completed in 1943 after CCCs left)




Quarters 25 A, B, & C

Quarters 28 A, B, & C

Designers: NPS

1940-42 Ken Saunders, SWRO

1941 Harvey Cornell, "

1942 Lyle E. Bennett "

(See enclosed National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, basic building data, and historic photos)

Bat Cave Draw Rock Terracing

(See enclosed National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form)


Maintenance Office and Warehouse









Equipment Shed and garage (1940)











At Rattlesnake Springs, the CCC enrollees built:

Bldg. #26

Designer: NPS

1941 Ken Saunders, SWRO

(See enclosed National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, basic building data, and historic photos)

Bldg. #27

Designer: NPS

1940 Ken Saunders, SWRO

(See enclosed National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, basic building data, and historic photos)


Employee Residence

Bldg. 22

Designers: NPS

1940 Ken Saunders, SWRO

Del Jones "

1942 Lyle E. Bennett "

Harvey Cornell


(See enclosed National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, basic building data, and historic photos)


Other projects which the CCCs accomplished in their four- year tenure here include:

Performing minor cavern trail work and maintenance, not trail construction. For instance, placing sand on cavern trails in preparation for building parapet walls; removing rock from the talus slope in the underground lunchroom to line the cavern trail edges; litter pickup etc.

Placing utility cables in rock trenches.

Constructing a diversion ditch at Rattlesnake Springs.

Constructing a service road at Rattlesnake Springs.

Grading and resurfacing the floor(pouring concrete floor slabs) in the underground lunchroom.

Assisting on carpentry projects.

Clearing ditches along Walnut Canyon Highway

Fencing project at Rattlesnake Springs.

Quarrying rock and making adobe bricks.

Constructing a parking lot near the elevator building.

Installing guard rails.

Constructing a dynamite storehouse

Alliterating and adding to the pump house at Rattlesnake Springs.

Paving with flagstone near the ticket office.

Excavating for the cavern sewerage sump.

Building a masonry wall to protect the Cavern Supply storeroom and restroom in the cavern from the public view

Obliterating the old guano road from White City to the cavern.

Helping the survey crew.

Surveying the "Truck Trail" to the "Fire Lookout" location.

Attending Pre-Fire Suppression training.

Working on stone trails/walkways in the residential area.

Constructing an equipment storage shed.

Assisting in plumbing maintenance.

Cleaning the water supply at Rattlesnake Springs.

Building a Walnut canyon flood dike

Building a fire weather station.

Rebuilding the Walnut Canyon road after the Sept 1941 flood damage.

Building a grease and wash rack

Assisting in electrical projects in the cavern and on the surface.



Please contact me, Historian Bob Hoff, at this address

3225 National Parks Highway

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico 88220

We have a few photos and a couple oral histories from CCC workers.

for additional information. My e-mail is


Bob Hoff