The Great Depression


The impact of the Great Depression (1930-39) was not felt as much in Sedona as in most of the United States. Life was already basic and hard, so the contrast was not as great as in more affluent and developed parts of the country. Most people here were relatively self-sufficient, raising crops and cattle that they could use and barter for other needs.

CCC Camp
CCC Camp - 1930s (where Kings Ransom and Quality Inn is today)

Some found work at the Smelter in Clarkdale. Many local men worked on various county, state and federal projects such as the building of roads. Albert Purtymun was a foreman for the State of Arizona building Highway 79 North through Oak Creek Canyon, and Roe Smith worked for the P.D. Construction Co., which finished the job in 1939. Roe's brother, Ira, and other locals provided teams and wagons. Parts of Highway 79 were soon rerouted and rebuilt, and in 1941 the road was re-designated as Highway 89A.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a federal program that created jobs during the depression era, built a large camp that later was converted to become the Sedona Lodge, now the site of the Kings Ransom motel. The CCC worked on Schnebly Hill Road, built the U.S. Forest Service barn in 1934, and other public works, bringing men in from other parts of the nation.

Most of the local men also worked on construction of Page Springs Road, alternating two weeks per month. Myron Samuel Loy helped to build Midgely Bridge as a worker for another federal organization, the WPA (Works Progress Administration). Roy Owenby, Roe Smith and others found work at the Clemenceau smelter in the Verde Valley.

The USFS Pump House, on Oak Creek on the northwest side of the bridge, was built by the CCC. This river rock structure was built in the 1930s to pump water from the creek to supply farmers, who hauled it in drums to their crops; to serve homes along the creek; and, the U.S. Forest Service who also used it to fill a tank that supplied its buildings and the Sedona School.

In the 1930s, hundreds of "dust bowl refugees" migrated through the area on their way to California.  A few of them settled in Sedona, including the Cook and Newton families.