Sunday, January 29, 2012

Woodson County Wanderings

Yesterday marked the first time in quite awhile that I made a field visit to a CCC project location. The destination was Woodson State Fishing Lake located a few miles southwest of Yates Center, KS. With the family in tow and a small lot of period photos to help identify construction and camp activities, we set out on a brilliantly sunny, breezy, late January afternoon.

Kansas Wildlife & Parks brochure PDF 

What a beautiful, secluded location! Tucked into a small valley in the oak filled hills of the Cross Timbers region, the 75+ year old lake still shines like a jewel. Despite the nice day, we had the place to ourselves.

Woodson State Fishing Lake looking northwest from CCC quarry locale.
Two CCC companies (Co. 1715 and 1709) were initially responsible for carrying out the lake construction, while a third (Co. 2735) worked here in the latter stages of the project, bringing it to a successful conclusion. The photos in my collection primarily depict the work of Co. 1709 from the earliest phases of construction to lake impoundment.

Mule teams and Caterpillar power (note Camp Woodson in background).

Lake Fegan dam and spillway from quarry locale.

A common decorative style using local stone to create columns and a castellated wall along the dam drive was employed at Lake Fegan where sandstone blocks form a row of columns on the downstream side of the dam and a decorative and functional castellated wall on the impoundment side.

Woodson State Fishing Lake- decorative stonework along dam road.

I have not always been successful in relocating remnants of CCC camps, even when having maps or photographic evidence of their locations. Camp Woodson was by comparison, fairly easy to identify with several landmarks tying historic photos to existing remains starting with a fireplace and chimney standing in a pasture adjacent to the lake property. Other areas of sandstone blocks, brick piers, brick and stone rubble, and scattered evidence of roads and other camp features were noted across the same short grazed pasture. Visible evidence of Camp Woodson was more limited on the lake property where thick stands of native grass and scattered thickets and trees obscured visibility. Additionally, it is clear that developments associated with the activity of the lake over the past 75+ years have impacted the remains of the former camp, but enough remains of the camp to warrant more formal documentation and mapping to record visible features. Interestingly, Camp Woodson was one of those early Kansas camps where boxcars were relied upon for some of the camp buildings (at least early on). I was pleased to see several instances of correlation between my period photographs and the modern landscape.

Fireplace and chimney of former CCC camp building.
My son and his big find- the flagpole base inscribed "CCC, Co. 1709, 1934".
Photo of Company 1709 at retreat (note flagpole and chimney).


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Used for school, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Nice sleuthing! Interesting period photos. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I still get calls from people who had relatives that worked there. Have you seen the statue we put up as a memorial to all the ccc men? Inside the new office building are pictures of Company 1709, 2735 and 1715. Wo.Co.Historical, rcall1@cox.net