Hard Times and Tough Choices
Following World War One, the USA entered a frothy prosperity that came to a crashing halt with the collapse of the stock market in 1929. Remembered as “Black Tuesday”, conditions had been brewing for some time that led to a Great Depression that was felt for more than a decade. Leading up to the national and world wide financial disaster, there was a shift of the population from rural areas into the cities. The agricultural sector was diminishing while at the same time, large areas of western plains were being stripped of the native buffalo grasses in favor of speculative wheat production. Severe droughts led to the massive destruction of the environment leading to what was known as the Dust Bowl.
Recovering the Land and Restoring the National Backbone
Herbert Hoover had easily won the Presidential election of 1928, based on his humanitarian efforts during the Great War as well as his exemplary competence as the US Secretary of Commerce. Hoover’s popularity spiraled downwards following “Black Tuesday”, although many of his proposed programs laid the framework for the ” New Deal” that was ushered in by the next President, Franklin Roosevelt. While Hoover was smeared as being uncaring about the plight of the common American, FDR was also against welfare programs and direct assistance. Americans were ready for a man of action and in 1932, Hoover left office with less than favorable ratings. Roosevelt took office like a whirlwind and pushed for programs that created jobs for the unemployed while simultaneously stewarding the natural resources of the country.
In this spirit, FDR created what became known as the Civilian Conservation Corps, which became a major economic engine in helping the country pull itself out of the Great Depression. The troubled and frustrated young men who were hungry and idle joined for the privilege of earning a dollar a day. The workers were happy to eat well and engage in meaningful projects such as planting trees, building roads and dams, fire fighting, and developing wilderness areas into national parks and recreation areas. The program won the approval of most citizens because crime rates dropped as the idle hands were put to tasks. The youth responded well to discipline, exercise and increased moral standards as well as literacy. The six month enlistments were often extended and the program was expanded to include veterans of the Spanish American War and World War One.
Experienced and Ready for Productivity
Once the volunteers left the program, they were considered to be prime applicants for employment. From 1933 until 1942, the CCC built up the strength of the country in ways that were to prove crucial in the turmoil of years to come. After the attack at Pearl Harbor, the nation shifted to wartime efforts and the Civilian Conservation Corps came to an honorable conclusion. The legacy from those years is still with us and many offspring organizations continue on a state and local level.
Cradle of Ancient Civilizations
The Valley of Fire State Park is located about 50 miles north of Las Vegas and includes over forty thousand acres of sculpted sandstone and protected wildlife habitats. The rugged formations date back over 150 million years and provide valuable geological information. In addition, the historical records of human activities provide clues provided by artifacts and archeological studies. Several distinctive cultures lived in the area, making the best uses of available resources. Hunters and gatherers left petroglyph drawings detailing their hunts for the Bighorn Sheep and describing the tools they used for survival in the desert environment.
Until recently, the area was virtually unknown, except for inhabitants of the nearby oasis of Moapa Valley. It was after the invention of the automobile that the Valley of Fire became an increasingly popular sight-seeing and camping destination. In the 1930’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps took part in several projects to improve access while also protecting the ancient treasures. A popular attraction at the park includes three rustic cabins, complete with fire places that once were used for the safe haven of travelers. Also, in nearby Overton, the CCC built the Lost City museum for the exhibit of artifacts left by the Anasazi Pueblo Indians that were about to be covered by the filling of Lake Mead.
Great American Landscape
The Valley of Fire is the oldest state park in Nevada which still attracts many tourists and outdoor enthusiasts. It also a sanctuary for endangered species such as the Desert Tortoise. It is suggested that you stop by the Visitors Center to view the the extensive educational exhibits and guidelines for enjoying this unique wonder of the world.
Here are some links to other articles I wrote
Sports Stars Go to Hollywood : Duane Johnson, “The Rock”
Chuck Norris with Bruce Lee
John Wayne and Tarzan with the Hollywood Gang
The Cults of Jane Fonda and Pamela Anderson
Top 10 Books and the Famous Movies They Inspired
Legendary Liz Taylor and Richard Burton in Cleopatra
The Rise and Fall of a Hollywood Empire
A Forgotten Clint Eastwood Movie
Stunt Man and Rodeo Star : Yakima Canutt
Best Comedy TV Shows of the 1960’s
Thanks for reading.