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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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September 19, 2012     Feather River Bulletin
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September 19, 2012
 

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012 1B [ s, o ,: o 1980: By the late 1970S, the guard station had developed problems with its water and septic systems. Fire crews stopped using the interior bathroom. From the 1960s onward, crews brought in trailer trailers for seasonal accommodations. A 1977 Forest Service report recommended that multiple outbuildings be demolished and replaced. Although most were torn down, they were never replaced. In 1981, the forest decided to stop using the station. Not only is it one of the very earliest administrative sites on the Plumas National Forest, it is among the oldest surviving Forest Service administration buildings anywhere in the western United States. 1980: Although still sound structurally, the guard station exhibits wear along the eaves and window fascia. The Forest Service boarded up the building in 1981. It remained out of service through 2010, when forest officials decided to restore the structure and use it as a recreational rental. Although the station weathered its 30-year hiatus relatively well, it clearly needed a new roof to ward off imminent weather damage. Photos Courtesy Plumas National Forest In addition to helping with the new roof, volunteers have rebuilt window screens and doors, reconstructed the wooden walkway to the back door, acquired a flag pole, rebuilt the cedar picket fence and removed old troughs, metal tanks and a clothesline at the guard station. At the nearby warehouse building (not shown), they have painted the exterior, re-roofed and rebuilt the porch. Upcoming work at the guard station includes removing a shower cart building and repainting the kitchen. Centennial celebration plans When: Friday, Sept. 28, 3 - 6 p.m. Where: Crocker Guard Station, 6.5 miles north of Beckwourth on the Beckwourth-Genesee Road RSVP: to Beckwourth Ranger District by Thursday, Sept. 20, 836-2575 Activities: After a flag-raising, district archeologist Dan Elliott discusses the guard station's history and project leader Mary Kliejunas outlines future plans. Tours of the guard station and a barbecue follow. Bring: side dish, camp chair, favorite outdoor stories Partners: Plumas National Forest-Beckwourth Ranger District hosts, Portola Rotary handles the barbecue, Beckwourth Fire Department is in charge of logistics and Portola Sanitation has donat- ed wash stations. conic C ker Gu ion to anniversary By Delaine Fragnoli compound there, as the re- Special to Feather Publishing mains of several outbuildings attested. The building itself I clearly remember the firstseemed sturdy, but it was time I saw Crocker Guard clear that it wouldn't stay Station. We had ridden our that way much longer if the mountain bikes from Bagley elements had their way with Pass (at the north end of Lake the deteriorating roof. We Davis), down through Clover managed to peer inside and Valley and out via the Beck- could make out a living room wourth-Genesee Road. And and kitchen. What a shame, I there it was: a substantial thought, to let the building two-story structure standing, disintegrate. seemingly, in the middle of I have visited a number of nowhere, surrounded by nat- Forest Service guard cabins ural springs and a nearby and lookouts over the years, creek that fed willows and but this was something dif- aspens. The building itself ferent. Its size alone was was handsome, and the distinctive. As was its age -- setting a sweet spot indeed. It a Forest Service sign in- looked like someth/ng, formed us it had been built in Something important. 1912. .. We couldn't resist poking It turns out my instincts around. We could tell there were right: Crocker Guard had once been quite a Station was something im- In addition to helping with the new roof, volunteers have rebuilt window screens and doors, reconstructed the wooden walkway to the back door, acquired a flag pole, rebuilt the cedar picket fence and removed old troughs, metal tanks and a clothesline at the guard station. At the nearby warehouse building (not shown), they have painted the exterior, re-roofed and rebuilt the porch. Upcoming work at the guard station includes removing a shower cart building and repainting the kitchen. ,~ . portant and, at one time, it had been, not in the middle of nowhere, but somewhera The Forest Service itself recognized these facts when, in 2010, it decided to restore the site and reopen it as a recreational rental, a process the agency calls "adaptive reuse." According to Forest Ser- vice archeologist Mary Kliejunas, who is heading the renovation, CrQcker Guard Station is unique for its one- and-a-half story construction and its age. "For this time pe- riod, it is a very substantial structure and points to the importance of this particular site." Not only is it one of the very earliest administrative sites on the Plumas National Forest, it is among the oldest surviving Forest Service ad- ministration buildings any- where in the western United States. And, because there has been little development in the surrounding area, its "historic setting is remark- ably intact," Kliejunas said: All this makes it eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The forest is in the process of nominating it. Built in fall 1912, the cur- rent station replaced a cabin built in 1906. Such guard sta- tions were generally small, modest affairs intended for ranger accommodations and as bases of operation in the field. In these early years, the fledgling Forest Service was concerned with timber theft, unregulated grazing and min- ing fraud. In an ironic example of "adaptive reuse," some early agency structures were built of material taken from tres- passing mines or seized lum- ber from illegal timbering: The initial log cabin at Crocker used secondhand material from old buildings and an abandoned mill site. It soon proved inadequate for the considerable activity at the site. The new house featured a living room, kitchen and multiple bedrooms. The site itself was attrac: tive because of its forage and water sources. It sat at a ma- jor crossroads for timbering, railroading and fire fighting: it was close to a main wagon road (the Beckwourth.Gene- see Road), logging railroads and the then under-construc- tion Western Pacific Rail- road. Some of the forest's largest timber sales were adminis- tered from Crocker: For near- ly 40 years, logging trains passed back and forth in front of the station six days a week. Improvements at the site over the years included a large barn, a gravity-fed wa- ter system, a shower and hot- water system, and a spring house. Although the station was hooked to telephone ser- vice very early on, it was nev- er wired for electricity; in- stead, it used propane begin- ning in the 1930s. Frequently, married couples manned the station, with the husband act- ing as guard and the wife as telephone operator. The Depression years ush- ered in a different era at Crocker. From June 1933 un- til October 1937, the station 2012: Volunteers work to re-roof the Crocker Guard Station in preparation for its 100th anniversary celebration Friday, Sept. 28. Plumas National Forest hopes to reopen the station eventually as a recreational rental. Although American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money funded big-ticket items such as structural earthquake improvements, a new roof and new windows, the restoration effort has benefited from volunteer labor. Former Forest Service employees are heavily invested inthe work; retirees Curtis Marshall, Mike Martini, Pete Meyer and Mike Davis have been volunteering for at least two seasons conducting a multitude of miscellaneous tasks around the compound. Marshall worked at Crocker when it was still an active station. operated seasonally as a and left, they converted their Civilian Conservation Corps Camp into today's Crocker base, named Camp Crocker. Campground. The bustling camp includ- In the ensuing decades, ed a wood-frame mess hall, Crocker Guard Station saw latrines and wash house, less and less use. Beginning Crews installed a plumbed in the 1960s, seasonal work- bathroom in the guard house ers brought in trail trailers, and built fences and cattle rather than stay in the sta- guards. Some of their work tion house. In 1977, an agency can still be seen today in the report recommended disman- interior paneling on the first fling many of the outbuild- floor and the mortared stone ings. By the end of the steps to the front porch, decade, substandard water In 1938, the corps built a and a troubled septic system fire warehouse behind the doomed the station. guard station. The board-and- In use for nearly 70 years, batten structure with its Crocker was closed and high-pitched gable roof con- boarded up in 1981: tinues to stand today. Before Corps members packed up See Crocker, page 5B