Baño de Oro, PR 2024
Baño de Oro, PR 2024

Baño de Oro, PR 2024

Baño de Oro, PR 2024

Welcome to the jungle! We’re kicking off 2024 with a dream trip to Puerto Rico restoring a popular swimming hole built by the Civilian Conservation Corps deep in the El Yunque National Forest.

PROJECT PARTNER: El Yunque National Forest

SESSION DATES: February 25 – March 1 and March 3-8

PROJECT SUPERVISOR: TBD!

CREW LEADER: TBD! 

*Because of the expected degree of difficulty regarding the scope of work along with the travel requirements inherent for our volunteers to participate at Baño de Oro, HistoriCorps will be selecting participants based on their qualifications submitted in their registration form*

Project Site Description & History

Baño de Oro of Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest is a popular tourist attraction and former swimming hole constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934. In fact, it was originally the site of the infamous Spanish gold panning location Baño de Oro Creek from which it received its name.

Although Puerto Rico has a tumultuous history of colonization dating back to the late 1490s, it strangely has an incomparable history of conservation. In 1839 the Spanish showed concerns regarding protections of fish and wildlife due to the growing population and impending demands on the island. By 1876, Spanish King Alphonso XII had designated the Luquillo Mountains a soil and water reserve, granting protection for 24,710 acres of rainforest under the Inspeccíon de Montes, formally Spain’s original forest service. With U.S takeover of the island following the Spanish-American War of 1889, the American government would ultimately establish similar land protections for the region by way of its newly formed U.S Forest Service, and with it, the the Luquillo National Forest, later becoming the Caribbean National Forest in 1935.

In 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous New Deal ushered in an unprecedented era of development on Puerto Rico, allowing for new infrastructure, housing, roads, and transportation that would improve living conditions on the island. Synchronistically, the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps brought further development to the island with roads being carved out of the Luquillo Mountains by the famous Los Tres C (aka the CCC) through exhausting labor in extremely difficult conditions unique to the rainforest.

Within a year Baño de Oro was constructed by Los Tres C in 1934 followed by its big brother Baño de Grande from 1935 to 1938 with further development of the region persisting until 1943 when congress voted to disband the CCC with the onset of WWII. Both Baño de Oro and Baño de Grande would ultimately be closed in the late 1960s due to public safety concerns. By 1946, the Luquillo Mountains and its unique concentration of bio-diversity and variety of sub-climates would be designated as an Insular Wildlife Refuge by the US Department of Agriculture ultimately cementing itself as the El Yunque National Forest. Coincidentally, El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rainforest in the United States Forest Service. In 2020 Baño de Oro was included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Location and Logistics

SESSION DATES: February 25 – March 1 and March 3-8

*Please plan to arrive at HistoriCorps provided accommodations no earlier than 12pm and no later than 7pm on the first day of your session.* 

LOCATION: Located in the EL Yunque National Forest of Puerto Rico

HistoriCorps will provide beach access lodging for all participating volunteers. Expect to share rooms and modern amenities with fellow participants.

TRAVEL: Selected volunteers are required to book and coordinate personal airfare to Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport located in San Juan, PR.  Selected volunteers are also responsible for coordinating their own transportation to and from our HistoriCorps provided lodging in Río Grande, PR, approximately 24 miles east of the airport. The lodging location will be disclosed with the pre-arrival information given to volunteers. 

*Volunteers should expect to check out of HistoriCorps provided lodging by 11am on the Saturday after your final day of work*

WEATHER:  Anticipate highs in the low 70s and lows in the 60s. Weather conditions may be rainy, cloudy, or sunny. Volunteers are responsible for checking weather conditions before their session begins and packing appropriately. Be advised that Puerto Rico is tropical destination and naturally a wet climate. Please come prepared for rainforest working conditions.

ABOUT VOLUNTEERING: HistoriCorps projects are free for volunteers! HistoriCorps will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to the campsite, sleeping equipment, work gloves, clothes and boots, and other personal gear.

Scope of Work

SCOPE OF WORK DIFFICULTY:

HistoriCorps is committed to educating and training volunteers in preservation skills, with an overarching mission of inspiring a preservation ethic in all those involved. Learning and working alongside expert HistoriCorps field staff, volunteers will apply the traditional skills necessary to restore the check damn and cheek walls of Baño de Oro:

  • Deconstruct collapsed south cheek walls and clean mortar from salvaged stone
  • Reconstruct the cheek wall on the floor of the dam using mortar similar to the existing
  • Construct a French drain behind the cheek wall
  • Excavate behind the north cheek wall approximately 16″ and fill with gravel
  • Repair all loose stones and missing mortar on the north cheek wall
  • Fill large voids in the check dam with injection grout
  • Repoint and reset stone as necessary on the steps of the dam

Please note: Tasks vary by day and by week, depending on a variety of factors including: weather, project priorities, previous groups’ work, and more. Though it is likely you will get to learn and practice most or all of the above tasks, it is not guaranteed. The higher percentage of the scope a particular task is, the more likely you will get to practice it.

Sign Up!

We’re thrilled this project has inspired you to volunteer!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!

*All registrations submitted for this opportunity will be automatically added to our waitlist and selected individually for this project!*

Selection for this project will be determined as soon as possible so volunteer travel arrangements can be made.

Visit our Job Calendar to see if a project session is full.

You will know your registration was successful when you receive a confirmation email. Contact volunteer@historicorps.org for assistance.

HistoriCorps does not charge for its volunteering projects. HistoriCorps relies on donations to continue engaging volunteers to save significant historical sites across America for generations to come. Your donation of any amount will make an incredible difference! Increase your impact – make a generous gift today.

Volunteer Logistics, Policies, and Advice

We’re so glad you’re interested in joining this project! If you’re new to our community, review the Volunteer FAQ first! Please note the following logistics and policies: 

  • Volunteering with HistoriCorps is free! We will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite or shared indoor lodging. Dinner is not provided on the first night. 
  • Volunteers are responsible for bringing their own gear, work gloves, sturdy work clothes and boots, and appropriate sleeping equipment. Check the average temperatures before you start packing – the nights and mornings may be colder than you anticipate! Then, read this advice about how to stay warm when tent camping in colder places. 
  • Campsite accessibility varies by project. Some projects can accommodate tents only; others can accommodate small RVs. Please review the project site description above for more information, and if you’re still not sure, email volunteer@historicorps.org for help. 
  • If this project does not offer showers, you might want to consider bringing a solar shower or research other methods to clean up after the work day. 
  • Volunteer crew sizes generally range from 4-8 volunteers, with two HistoriCorps staff that lead and train volunteers in the work. 
  • Safety is one of HistoriCorps’ top priorities, and volunteers can contribute to a safe working environment by ensuring their physical fitness is adequate for the work. See above for this project’s scope of work and difficulty level. Please, call us if you are not quite sure if a project is a good fit for your skills or fitness level. We may be able to suggest a project more suitable and enjoyable for you. 
  • Hard hats, eye protection, ear protection, gloves are standard personal protection equipment (PPE) required on all projects. Hard hats must be worn at all times on the project site, unless working in a designated safe space. Field staff will train volunteers on correct use of PPE. 
  • Dogs are generally allowed to accompany their humans in project campsites (actually, we love having dogs join us around the campfire!). Dogs are not permitted on the job site for everyone's safety. HOWEVER: HistoriCorps also follows the rules and regulations of our project partner. If the project partner does not permit dogs onsite then HistoriCorps is no exception. Please ask HistoriCorps or the project partner directly if you have any questions about whether Fido is welcome.