Monthly Archives: June 2015

Flux Canyon and the Civilian Conservation Corps

Shortly after the Circle Z was established in 1926 America found itself in the grip of the Great Depression. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in early 1933 he faced a challenge of an economy in a shambles with rampant unemployment. His administration established several New Deal programs designed to get people back to work and energize the economy. One of these programs was the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC), which reached right into Patagonia at Flux Canyon.

CCC Camp at Flux Canyon, taken by Murphy Lloyd Musick

A panoramic view of Flux Canyon Camp, facing northwest toward Route 82. Note the concrete slabs in the left center, which were the foundations for lodging tents. Photo by Murphy Lloyd Musick for the Patagonia Museum

The CCC had a dual goal: to conserve natural resources and salvage America’s out-of-work young men. The National Park Service had been established about 20 years earlier, increasing awareness of the value of the landscape. Yet public land outside the park system sorely needed irrigation, reforestation and overall land management. The CCC and its new workforce provided the perfect solution. In total the program established over 2,600 camps that employed over half a million men to address these public land needs.

Part of the Coronado National Forest group, the Flux Canyon camp operated from 1933 to 1935 and was located on the eastern side of state route 82 at the junction of Flux Canyon Road. Circle Z guests pass through the remains of the camp during the full-day cookout ride.

Camp related projects focused on water infrastructure: stream development, erosion control and well digging. Camp residents also took on firefighting duties. According to the U.S. Forest Service, in mid 1934 “all lookouts on the Coronado were manned by CCC enrollees.”

Mess Hall, Flux Canyon CCC Camp, photo by Musick

The concrete slab foundation is all that remains of the original mess hall, photo by Murphy Lloyd Musick, Patagonia Museum

Perhaps the most significant contribution by Flux Canyon Camp to Patagonia concerned livestock and grazing interests. CCC crews built fences, cattle guards and corrals as part of a U.S. Forest Service allotment program to regulate fencing and grazing among ranchers. These efforts improved overgrazed areas and ultimately improved the quality of livestock.

Flux Canyon Camp closed in 1935, with its residents moving on to Apache National Forest. Today all that remains are a few concrete pads that formed the foundations of lodging tents and the mess hall, along with a former administration building that is now a private home. But the effects of the CCC linger, in the fences, in the curves of Sonoita Creek, and perhaps in the cattle that are descended from those that grazed here during the Great Depression.

CCC Camp, Flux Canyon, original Admin Bldg, by Musick

The original administration building is now a private residence, photo by Murphy Lloyd Musick, Patagonia Museum

For more information about the Civil Conservation Corps, go to www.ccclegacy.org and www.nps.gov/parkhistory

 

 

By |June 5th, 2015|History|0 Comments

Patagonia Lake: A Park and Preserve

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Guests riding the higher trails on the western side of the ranch often glimpse the shimmering blue waters of Patagonia Lake in the distance. Despite blending beautifully into the scenery today, the lake didn’t even exist when Lucia Nash first came to the Circle Z as a child.

Patagonia Lake near Circle Z ranch

Patagonia Lake was formed by damming up a portion of Sonoita Creek

In the late 1960s a group of local citizens formed the Lake Patagonia Recreation Association, Inc. (LPRA) with the intent of creating a lake and recreation area. In 1968 a dam was built on the Sonoita creek west of the Circle Z, creating 256-acre Patagonia Lake.

Over the next several years the state authorities worked to acquire land surrounding the lake, which at the time was owned by oil company Conoco. Eventually the State of Arizona also secured title to Patagonia Lake itself and in 1975 Patagonia Lake State Park was established. So when Lucia acquired the Circle Z in 1976 she knew the land immediately to the west of the ranch would always be protected!

Today the park consists of over 2,600 acres in addition to the lake and abuts the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area along with the Circle Z, all ensuring a stable environment for the unique ecosystem found along the Sonoita Creek and around the ranch. Tracks from the New Mexico/Arizona railroad like beneath the lake, the same railroad that forms some of the well-worn tracks at the Circle Z.

Fishing is popular at Patagonia Lake in southern Arizona

Channel your inner angler at Patagonia Lake

The lake is a habitat for bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish, and is stocked with rainbow trout during the winter months making it a popular spot for fishermen. Kayaks and canoes are available for rental. If your next visit to the Circle Z has you “angling” to do some fishing or paddling, Patagonia Lake would be a good choice. For the rest of us, the lake provides a beautiful reflection of that magnificent Arizona sky.

Patagonia Lake is a perfect spot for canoes and kayaks

Quiet waterways among the marsh grasses provide wonderful spots for kayaking.

By |June 5th, 2015|Community, Day Trips, History, Nature|0 Comments