Photo: Livingston Collection, Archives of the Big Bend, Bryan Wildenthal Memorial Library, Sul Ross State University

Big Bend National Park was little more than a hopeful idea when about 200 young men arrived in the Chisos Mountains in 1934 on deployment with the Civilian Conservation Corps. Hungry for work amid the hardship of the Great Depression, the workers, ages 18 to 25 and mostly Hispanic, toiled in isolated, harsh conditions to construct infrastructure for what was then Big Bend State Park. The CCC established a camp in the shadow of Casa Grande peak—still the location of the Chisos Basin campground—and blasted 10,000 truckloads of rock to build Green Gulch Road from the desert floor into the basin. A second CCC crew stationed in Big Bend from 1940 to 1942 built the popular Lost Mine Trail, a store, and four cottages that have been used for lodging since the national park opened in 1944.

From the February 2019 issue

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