Below the iconic Red Rocks are the green roofs that provided shelter for the young men who got things done more than eight decades ago.
“They constructed shelters in some of our parks, did road work, built bridges,” Dennis Brown said.
He's a park ranger supervisor for Denver Mountain Parks and occasional tour guide for the Civilian Conservation Corps camp off Union Avenue in Morrison, just south of the Red Rocks Amphitheater.
“The CCC was the foundation of what the country can do in dire times to enhance the living experience,” Brown said.
About 200 men lived in barracks at Camp SP-13-C in Morrison which opened in 1935. At the time, Brown said there were about 1,400 CCC camps and a quarter of a million young men working on conservation projects all over the country.
The CCC started after the Great Depression as an effort to get people back to work. CCC companies 1848 and 1860 spent six years in Morrison helping to build Red Rocks, largely by hand.
“It took a lot of vision because, of course, you were carving this out of rock,” Towny Anderson said, gesturing toward Red Rocks.
Anderson is the CEO and executive director of the non-profit, HistoriCorps which recruits volunteers to help rehab historic buildings on public lands.
“We really are modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps,” Anderson said. HistoriCorps’ next big project will be the restoration of 11 of the 14 buildings at the CCC camp in Morrison.
“We’ll be rehabbing these buildings methodically,” Anderson said.
In exchange for the rehab work, HistoriCorps will get to move its downtown Denver office to one of the old CCC barracks.
“This is an opportunity for us to consolidate our operations and work with the city of Denver to rehabilitate the buildings, both here at the CCC camp and throughout the Denver Mountain Parks,” Anderson said.
Denver will cover the $500,000 bill for the restoration of the new HistoriCorps office space. Construction is expected to begin in the winter, and Anderson said HistoriCorps hopes to move into the new space in April 2018.
“We’re very excited about that, and it gives a legitimate purpose to this camp,” Dennis Brown said.
The CCC camp in Morrison is open to the public, but tours are given by appointment only. If you’re interested, you can reach out to Denver Mountain Parks at 720-865-0900 for more information.