Remembering Camp Vista

A section of Vista off Sycamore Avenue that’s known today as Green Oak Ranch was, from 1935 to 1941, the location of Camp Vista. The camp was part of a nationwide network of facilities operated by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The corps, known more familiarly as the CCC, was one of the first programs instituted by the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt to relieve massive unemployment in the depths of the Great Depression.

At its height the camp was home to 200 enrollees, unemployed young men between the ages of 17 and 28 who were put to work on projects involving soil conservation, tree planting, preservation of wildlife habitat and road building.

Here’s a photo of Camp Vista’s enrollees taken around 1940, courtesy of the Vista Historical Society:

It wasn’t just “busy-work” that those young men performed. One report published in the pages of the Vista Press newspaper in March 1936, just five months after the camp had opened, noted that enrollees had constructed  “47 permanent dams, over 4,500 feet of diversion ditches, one mile of terraces, and 70 permanent terrace outlet structures” on local ranches. During that same period, the camp workers planted “over 2,600 soil-holding, drought-resistant trees…to protect gully banks and eroding hillsides.”

That’s some history worth remembering.

Sources for this post included the archives of the Vista Historical Society and the book, The Tree Army: A Pictorial History of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942.

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Talking History


Earlier this week I had the pleasure of giving one of my talks, “Homefront San Diego in World War II,” for San Diego OASIS. I spoke at the Linda Vista Library. That was an apt location for the talk, as the Linda Vista neighborhood was created as a result of San Diego’s incredible growth during the war years.

The neighborhood began with a massive housing project that got under way in late 1940, with the motto, “3,000 houses in 300 days.” This was part of the effort to accommodate the influx of defense workers and military personnel that saw the city of San Diego’s population grow almost 200 percent between 1940 and 1943.

Here’s one of the slides from my talk, showing part of a trailer camp set up to accommodate people who were moving into San Diego at the rate of 1,500 a week. The photo is courtesy of the Library of Congress:



I’ll be giving this talk and more for OASIS later in the year, and I’m available to give talks for other groups as well, on a variety of historical topics. To find out more, click on the “About” tab on this website.