Well before the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport formally existed (but still after it was operating as a dirt or gravel runway for small planes), it hosted a U.S. Civilian Conservation Corps camp. In the Great Depression of the 1930s, the U.S. government funded the CCC, putting unemployed men to work at needed jobs and teaching them career skills. Around the country, the most visible remnant of the CCC tends to be beautiful construction elements in parks, which are still treasured today. Of the Pullman camp, however, few if any traces remain.
In very recent years, the WSU Libraries’ Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, or MASC, received a photo album dealing with that Pullman camp from a resident of Vancouver, Wash. No one knew where the album came from, and the donating family had no ties to the region. All they really had to go on in identifying the album was one of the photographs, showing what appears to be a parade float reading “CCC Company 2914 SCS-W-2; Camp Pullman, Wash.” Based on that one photograph, they called the MASC, and we happily accepted the donation of the album.
The scrapbook shows Camp 2914, which we know formed at the airport site on June 18, 1935. Eventually, that initial corps of men moved elsewhere and another group came in, and we have other scattered stories and resources which tell us some of the involved names and projects, or which show the camp as a whole. The SCS in the camp title stands for Soil Conservation Service, and the men here were engaged primarily in soil conservation projects and indeed, we find photos in the album which appear to involve erosion barriers, stump dynamiting and various forms of fieldwork. There are occasional signifiers in this album which help us in identifying when and what it covers. A group photo, the only one in the album taken by a professional photographer, includes an identifier that tells us that photo is from 1936. In another, one of the men is reading a magazine published in mid-1937, and together with the combination of spring and winter photos we can assume our scrapbook-builder was here at least from the summer of 1936 to the summer of 1937, but that’s all we know from the images. The album eventually moves on to what seems to be northern Idaho, likely another CCC camp, after which our album creator apparently enlists in the Army; in July of 1941 he is going through training at Fort Hunter Liggett in California. From there he ends up in uniform on the northeast coast of the island of Oahu, Hawaii, though we’re not sure if he’s stationed there or just passing through. And then, abruptly, his scrapbook ends. His identity remains a mystery; we don’t even know which person, of all those appearing across the 154 photographs in his book, our album’s creator is.