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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Stone House

CCC Cabin
The other evening, when leaving the Visitor Center, a young couple hit me with a barrage of rapid- fire questions. “Does anyone live back there?” “Is it creepy?” “Do you ever get visitors, you know like family?”

I live in a house made of stone. The walls and floor of my home are made of igneous rock that flowed from the Jemez Volcano more than a million years ago. The volcanic eruption created the landscape on which my humble dwelling was built. Years after the eruption, young men with pick axes and crosscut saws, earning a dollar a day, toiled under the scorching New Mexican sun, quarrying slabs of stone to be cut into thick blocks that would make the walls of my house as well as thirty other structures in Frijoles Canyon that now comprise the Bandelier Historic District. These buildings, made of compressed volcanic ash (tuff) walls and basalt floors, serve as offices, visitor facilities, employee residences, an entrance kiosk and fire tower. We owe this good work to the Emergency Conservation Work Act of 1933, which provided funding and meaningful employment to thousands of jobless young men enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC).

CCC enrollees cutting stone
The men who cut the rock, also cut down timber, juniper, ponderosa and pinon pine, creating wood ceilings with elaborate woodworking detail and design. The architectural style, Pueblo Revival, was chosen to blend with the environment and the structures of local culture. There is both pride and privilege to working and living in the largest assemblage of CCC buildings in the National Park Service. Yet as with any collection of old buildings there are problems, drafty doors and windows, leaky roofs and mice who would rather live indoors than out. Yet the opportunity to be fully immersed in this part of American history is rewarding, mice and all. Yes, I have had visitors and none thought my home was “creepy.”

1 comment:

  1. I wonder why they said that; the house looks fine for me. ;) Your house is part of the history. I’m sure that the moment they hear the story of your house, they’ll sure be ashamed of what they said. ;)

    Megan Payne