The year was 1933. The Depression was devastating the United States. Over 13 million Americans, about one third of the available workforce, were out of work. The feeling of desperation overwhelmed many, particularly young men. They were often untrained, unskilled, unable to gain experience, and in many cases, lacked adequate education. The future seemed anything but bright. In March of 1933, just weeks after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated, Congress passed an act that was to have great impact for unemployed young men and natural resources management.
Its impact even reached the then very remote central Oregon coast. In June of 1933, Company 963 set up a temporary camp of tents on the south side of Cape Perpetua just north of Cape Creek. The men began construction of the permanent camp to be known as Camp Cape Creek, which was located just west of the present Cape Perpetua Visitor Center.
The act establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) had two purposes: The most important was the need to find immediate and useful conservation work for millions of unemployed young men; the second was to provide for the restoration of the country's depleted natural resources and the advancement of an orderly program of useful public works projects.
CCC enrollees were required to be (1) male citizens of the U.S. or its Territories, (2) between 18 and 25 years of age, (3) unemployed and not in regular attendance at school, (4) unmarried, and (5) of good character and physical condition. The enrollees were provided with a uniform, room and board, and were paid $30 per month. Of the $30, enrollees kept $5 and the remaining $25 was sent home to assist their family. They typically worked for a period of 6 months with the opportunity for an extension.
The CCC boys at Cape Perpetua completed a number of projects within the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area including construction of the campground and numerous trails. The most well known CCC project completed is the West Shelter located on top of Cape Perpetua. The stone shelter was built for recreational purposes, as it provides a spectacular view of the Oregon coastline. Today, it is a popular viewpoint for whale watching.