Humboldt Redwoods SP and Richardson Grove SP CCC Heritage Adventure
(Click on map to download printable tour map and description)
The Humboldt Redwoods CCC camp dwellers had several occasions to quote Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner: "Water, water, everywhere , and all the boards did shrink. . ." The original camp was first occupied in spring 1933. It was located at the confluence of the main and south forks of the Eel River, by the little town of Dyerville. In winter 1933, the camp flooded. In 1934, it flooded. By 1936, it was abandoned, and a new camp was set up. Winter 1937 brought one of the worst floods in recent history to the area, and the CCC enrollees again had to deal with flood damage to camp and construction projects. The '37 flood also damaged buildings in Dyerville and destroyed any trace of the old Burlington-Humboldt camp.
The second camp, located at the site of the town of Burlington south of Dyerville, was named "Stephens Grove Camp." Like most of the CCC camps, it was developed by the enrollees. The Stephens Grove Camp site is now Humboldt Redwoods park headquarters. One of the buildings still in use was adapted from the CCC buildings. But much of the CCC work at Humboldt Redwoods was destroyed by flooding, especially the historic floods of 1955 and 1964.
The Humboldt Redwoods CCC enrollees also worked down the highway at Richardson Grove State Park. Floods also destroyed some of the work there, but a few elements remain.
Richardson Grove State Park
The south room of the Richardson Grove visitor center used to be a dining area. In 1938 the CCC built a connecting wing between the outdoor octagonal kitchen and the dining room, and an adjoining deck. The connector still exists; the deck has been replaced.
Tree Ring Exhibit
In March 1933, a huge redwood west of Highway 10, right across from the visitor center, leaned over after heavy rains. It had to be cut down before it toppled. Was this a tragedy? No, it was an opportunity. The CCC and local WPA workers made a redwood natural history exhibit out of the 2000-year-old tree's base and part of the trunk, right where it was felledl. It is shown above in 1935. This exhibit still exists, with only minor changes and repairs since 1933.
How to get there:
From the entrance parking lot, take the trail paralleling the highway and head south. When you reach the road that goes under the highway, cross it but do not go under the highway. The trail continues on the other side of the road.
From the visitor center, walk north, then under the highway, and then turn left immediately after.
Either way, it is only about a quarter-mile walk to the exhibit. Unfortunately, it is not visible from the road or a parking lot, and the trail surface is not suitable for wheelchairs. In 1933 visitors strolled across highway 101 from the visitor center to reach the exhibit. This is certainly not a safe option now!
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
(Stephens Grove Camp plat, from 1935 CCC co. 925 newsletter)
The current park headquarters area is located at the site of the Stephens Grove CCC camp, shown at right c. 1938. The one building still standing from the CCC time was adapted into a campground recreation hall, but is no longer used for this purpose. It stands next to the location marked "Garage" in the 1935 plat, so must have been moved from a different part of the camp or constructed later than 1935. The rest of the camp was demolished by 1948, when new headquarters buildings were constructed.
The Visitor Center at the Burlington Park Headquarters predates the CCC. They improved the existing building, which at that time was called the museum. Inside, there is now a display with many photos of the Humboldt Redwoods CCC camps and enrollees, and an exhibit on Eel River floods.
The CCC constructed the original Burlington campground. It has had to be rebuilt several times since. When CCC company 925 moved in to their new camp next door in 1935, the young men liked to visit this campground in the evening. Why? There were on the lookout for young women to visit with.
The Dyerville Overlook is built on the site of Camp Burlington-Humboldt. (As you drive north from park headquarters to the overlook, you will pass through what is left of Weott, where the boys at Camp Stephens Grove would go to the movies and flirt with the town girls. Much of Weott was destroyed in later floods.) Dyerville is gone (see right sidebar), but the river confluence and the flat above it are still recognizable from old photographs. You can see an impressive view of the confluence from the overlook. Among the panels and display boards here is another CCC display, focusing on the Dyerville camp.
For more information on Humboldt Redwoods State Park, click here.
For more information on Richardson Grove State Park, click here.
Want to Go Farther?
CCC Company 925 lived in Dyerville when they first were transferred to Humboldt Redwoods. They helped put the finishing touches on Camp Stephens Grove, and moved there.
Where did they come from before Dyerville? They were stationed at the Forest Service's Hawkins Bar CCC Camp. (At left is the camp newsletter cover.)
The Trinity Scenic Byway goes through Hawkins Bar and Salyer. Company 925 did work at both communities, and also on the roads.
Where in the Heck is Dyerville?
The town of Dyerville, once site of the Humboldt Redwoods CCC camp and the location of park headquarters for over three decades, no longer exists. It was destroyed in 1964, in a disaster that made the 1937 flood look like a mere trickle.
Twenty years earlier, Dyerville was already a town on the way out, as described in this 1944 article from the California State Parks employee newsletter News and Views.
Perhaps buoyed by the initial success of state engineers' efforts to control flooding, the park system refurbished the Dyerville museum in the late 1940s and put in new displays--including artwork done as part of a WPA project in the 1930s (another New Deal work program). 1955 was yet another major flood year. The museum was badly damaged, and the WPA artwork was a total loss. Soon after, the park headquarters was permanently moved to the old CCC camp in Burlington.