Water Canyon Ranger Station, AZ 2021
Water Canyon Ranger Station, AZ 2021

Water Canyon Ranger Station, AZ 2021

Water Canyon Ranger Station, AZ 2021

Ranger Stations like this were critical to the history of forest management, and carry the story of both the Forest Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps. By restoring these places we can honor the people who committed themselves to conserving the forests we love today.

PROJECT PARTNER:  Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

SESSION DATES:  October 10-15, October 17-22, and November 7-12

Project Site Description & History

Encompassing over two million acres of mountains and rivers soaring high above the Arizona desert, the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests are a beauty to behold. However, the stunning landscape is not the only thing that makes the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests unique. The forests also include many important historic sites, including the Water Canyon Ranger Station. Nestled among the trees on the bank of Water Creek, the Water Canyon Ranger Station was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1934 and tells an important story of national resilience. 

Created in 1933 by President Franklin Roosevelt, the CCC was a depression-era organization that hired young men to work on public land projects while earning money for their families and gaining new skills. The “CCC boys” as they were referred to would not only receive decent pay ($30 per month, $25 of which were required to be sent home to family) but also three meals a day and a safe place to live, two things that were rare during the Great Depression. The Water Canyon Ranger Station is one of many projects completed by the CCC between the years 1933 and 1942. 

In the 1920’s, just prior to the onset of the Great Depression, the Forest Service developed a standard plan for ranger stations across the forest. Each site had four buildings on the premises: a house, a pump house, a barn and a shed all constructed in the bungalow style. The Water Canyon Ranger Station is an excellent example of this plan and style. This site represents not only the history of the Apache Sitgreaves National Forests but also reflects the history and resilience of the United States during a national crisis. 

The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests are named in part for the Apache people who historically lived on the land where the national forest and Water Canyon Ranger Station are now located. This region was also part of the Zuni and Pueblo Nations.

Many thanks to Nathaniel Biegler for researching and writing this description. Nathaniel is a high school student with a love of studying and preserving the past. After high school he plans to attend college and continue studying history and historic preservation. He is currently interning with Denver Mountain Parks.


Location and Logistics

PROJECT PARTNER: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests

SESSION DATES:  October 10-15, October 17-22, and November 7-12. Please plan to arrive at our campsite no earlier than 5pm and no later than 7pm on the first day of your session.

ACCESS:    Tent camping only 

Tents, truck campers, and campervans can access this site.

LOCATION:  We will be camping right onsite around the Ranger Station.

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 clothes and boots, and other personal gear.

HistoriCorps is proud to partner with Passport in Time for two additional sessions on this project!

Water Canyon Ranger Residence

Water Canyon Pump House

The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests offer excellent outdoor recreation opportunities and beautiful scenery. Though this photo was taken in summer, we will get to experience lovely fall colors during this project. These forests boast eight notable cold water lakes and more than 680 miles of rivers and streams!

Scope of Work


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 learn the skills necessary to restore several buildings’ elements at Water Canyon Ranger Station.

  • Siding repair/replacement – 15%
  • Scraping loose paint and repainting to match existing siding – 35%
  • Cedar shingle roofing – 10%
  • Various carpentry tasks (see below) – 40%
    • Building a deck
    • Replacing stair stringers
    • Rehabilitating and/or fabricating barn and residence doors
    • Reglazing windows and replacing deteriorated wood elements
    • Restoring window screens and shutters

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! Choose your session and register below:

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:

  • Review our COVID protocols here. HistoriCorps is committed to keeping our volunteers, staff, and project communities safe. Beginning with projects starting 9/29/2021, all volunteers will be required to affirm that they will be fully vaccinated from the Covid-19 virus by the time their project begins.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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.