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Come celebrating the work of the CCC boys

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October 8, 2011 by Devils Den

By Rebekah Spurlock

Devil’s Den State Park is a testament to the rich cultural and natural heritage of Northwest Arkansas. It preserves the beautiful Lee Creek Valley, the largest sandstone cave and crevice area in the nation, and many memories for generations of families. Although Devil’s Den State Park was designated a state park in 1916, it was the hard work of the Civilian Conservation Corp that truly developed this area as a destination.

The Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) was developed from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Program to get the economy going again during the Great Depression. The project employed young men to live in military style camps and do civil engineering projects such as build road, build dams, plant trees, and create parks. The first camp of CCC boys arrived at Devil’s Den on Oct. 20, 1933, from South Dakota. They were stationed near what is now Zinnamon Church on Highway 170 with the task of building a road into the park. That impressive feat is still evident today as seen with the remarkable craftsmanship of the old culverts that dot the woods beside the current highway into the park.

From 1933 to 1942, the CCC developed many of the structures & features still seen on the park today including the cabins, the Ridge Runner Café and Pavilion and the Visitor Center. The CCC boys also enjoyed exploring on the park. They created many sections of the Devil’s Den Trail and Yellow Rock Trail still in use. Their ability to blend the structures they created with the natural environment is so extraordinary you might think many of the walkways are natural!

There were many additional plans for the park that were never realized due to the United States entering World War II. Since the government no longer had the means to support such a program and many young men were expected to enlist, the CCC at Devil’s Den State Park was disbanded on March 25, 1942. However, there legacy still stands today. Although many things have changed on the park over the last 78 years, it is the rustic structures constructed by the CCC that give Devil’s Den the state park feel for many visitors

In celebration of the arrival of the Civilian Conservation Corp and their hard work that created this beautiful park, avid hikers, Dorothea and David Justice, will lead a fantastic hike through the park to some very beautiful and secluded areas. They will be exploring areas seldom seen, which highlight a little of the park’s history in celebration of the anniversary of the arrival of the Civilian Conservation Corp Boys.

The hike will cover portions of the Devils Den Trail, Fossil Flats Trail, and Yellow Rock Trail, as well as many areas where there are no trails. There will be some scrambling over big rocks and some hill climbing. This fun hike will cover roughly six miles of rugged terrain with many bail-out places. Pack a lunch and bring plenty of water for this great day of hiking! Meet by the suspension bridge below the dam at 9 a.m. on Saturday, October 15 to experience the park like never before, but remember it is prohibited by State and Federal Law to disturb, remove or vandalize these​​ historic sites. Tread with care, so our history will always be there! For more information, please contact Rebekah Spurlock at 479-761-3325 or rebekah.spurlock@arkansas.gov.

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