For over 80 years, residents of Guernsey, Platte County communities, and beyond have enjoyed the fruits of labor done by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Corps, or CCC, was an organization founded during the Great Depression by Franklin Roosevelt to create jobs. The organization spearheaded the construction of public recreation centers, roads, and many other projects that benefited the public.
The CCC also worked on what is now Guernsey State Park, a place well known, not only for its beautiful reservoir and recreation opportunities, but also for the elaborate structures which visitors can thank CCC workers for.
“Truly, I don’t think people realize how significant Guernsey State Park is, not only to the history of Wyoming, but to the history of recreation in this country,” historian Todd Thibodeau said.
According to Thibodeau, the 1930s project of Guernsey State Park was the first-ever partnership between the Bureau of Reclamation, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the National Park Services, setting a precedent for other State Parks throughout the State.
During construction at the Park, Thibodeau said that project manager Elwood Mead had two camps of CCC workers placed on separate sides of the Park. This was done to create a rivalry between the camps, and the result was a series of spectacular structures that are still enjoyed today.
“The Million Dollar Biffy,” an affectionate term for the stone restroom area built by competitve CCC workers, as well as the Guernsey Castle Picnic area, are just a couple
“The CCC proved that with good trading, and good supervision, these boys could create some pretty amazing things.”
of examples of the workmanship of the CCC employees.
The museum that is located in the park was hailed in a historic National Park pamphlet as the “finest example” of a trailside museum in the nation, and the structure became the prototype for future museums.
He said the men working at the park created sports teams, and also held an annual Water Carnival for several consecutive years at the park.
Construction time at the park could be anywhere from 18-24 months for workers.
“I think all the workers would walk away with memories of a job well done… and a project that really helped change the face of recreation in America,” Thibodeau said.
He added that, not only did Guernsey State Park have the best management available during its construction, but new innovations were utilized within the infrastructure of the Park, and the architecture that stands today served as a standard for parks throughout Wyoming and beyond.
“The CCC proved that with good trading, and good supervision, these boys could create some pretty amazing things,” Thibodeau said.
The endurance of the buildings is their outstanding feature, with many of them retaining the original construction they underwent over 80 years ago.
Milward Simpson, Director of the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources said that Guernsey State Park is a “Jewel” in Wyoming’s park system, and the modern upgrades throughout the Park over the years to campsites and the CCC Buildings will continue to enhance the experience for visitors.