The Morro Bay State Park and the CCC

This is Fred Billing, great grandfather of Tim Kilcline and Dorothy Birkhead's grandfather. Fred was the superintendent of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

“What is it all for?” someone asked Fred Billing as he showed us around the great state park of which he is superintendent at Morro.

“Well,” Fred replied, “This is one thing I can show you better than I can tell you. Come on, let’s take a ride.” So we motored with Fred to the heights above the Bay and Park and town, and gave his big domain the once-over.

From the heights one looks down, sloping to the bay shore, with the great sentinel rock guard in the center of the picture. Morro Rock, 576 feet high, with its rock-hewn “face” on the north-west slope looking out over the wind-swept Pacific, is an outstanding natural feature of interest on the whole coast between San Diego to Seattle. It guards and guides and guides and protects from Point Gorda to Pismo Point.

The appearance of the towering rock in the early morning or as the sun sinks into the Pacific, brings to mind the poet’s words,

“The silent voice of beauty in all created things is the love-song of God to all eternity.”

“See Rome and then die,” might well be paraphrased, “See Morro Rock and its setting, and its setting, and then forget the rest of the coast.”

The park covers 1800 acres of hill and shore and wooded dells along the Chorro Creek which empties into the marshy bay south of town. Here the state has taken over and formed one of the finest playgrounds that can be found along the whole coast. Recent improvements have been made in the summer playground, fitted most especially for valley people who desire to come to the nearest coast point to escape the heat of the interior.

People don not generally know of his work, for at the present time it is barely completed. To form this park the state took over the Lawrence holdings covering the bay shore for several miles to the south and east. It includes beautiful Bay Point with its charmingly located clubhouse and golf links. At the point are boating and fishing wharves with the usual accessories. This portion of the park is under lease to a resort manager and is not open to the public as a free attraction.

Along the south shore, Mr. Billing has done his finest work of construction. It is a long line of rock-walled dining rooms or patios. Here at high tide the ocean washes the walls of the enclosures where you may dine at polished rock tables while sitting on redwood cushioned seats. Stone stoves are provided for barbecues and clam bakes, and cut wood lies by the ovens ready for all comers. One can almost dig his clams, swing around half way and drop them into his cooking utensil. A vacationist can catch his halibut or smelts, bring them to the stone cooking ovens are shaded at the back by a magnificent row of trees.

Along in the middle of the south shore there stands a CCC camp and barracks. This explains in a large measure how Mr. Billing has carried on so much work of improvement. He has had 200 of these husky and able young enrollees under his command for the past few months. Their work speaks for itself.

One of the finest wooded camp grounds that could be imagined has been prepared where Chorro Creek ripples down from the east. Along the creek, camping spots have been cleared and equipped. The gurgling creek provides water at your camp fire. Stone stove and cooking ovens and open fireplaces are provided, with wood ready for all. “Come on over and see us,” said Fred Billing as we completed the tour. “Bring all the folks. We are ready for you.”
copy and paste the above link into your browser to see some early photographs of the park

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