CPS Unit Number 060-01

CPS Unit Number 060-01

Camp: 60

Unit ID: 1

Operating agency: MCC

Opened: 12 1942

Closed: 1 1944


CPS Camp No. 60, a Bureau of Reclamation base camp near Lapine, Oregon operated by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), opened in December 1942. The camp continued for a little more than one year, when in January 1944, Selective Service converted it to a government operated camp, CPS Camp No. 128. The men worked to construct a dam on the upper Deschutes River.

Lapine, Oregon, United States
Location Description:

This camp, called Camp Wickiup, was located in a CCC camp built in 1938 near the Deschutes River about eighteen miles west of Lapine.  The buildings, arranged in three units, each of which could accommodate two hundred men, were in excellent condition.  


In 1938, the CCC began construction of a dam on the upper Deschutes River in the slopes of the Cascade Mountains to provide water for irrigation of fifty thousand fertile acres in central Oregon. 


Camp staff:

Director: Rufus Franz

Dietician: Beth Eldridge Goering

Matron: Mrs. Rufus M. Franz

Nurse: Mary Duerksen

The people:

Seventy-eight men from camps west of the Mississippi and several from Cascade Locks, CPS Camp No. 21 transferred into the camp.  Nearly all of the assignees when entering CPS reported affiliation with Mennonite denominational groups.

The work:

The men continued dam construction, forty percent complete when they arrived.  Only four thousand of the projected eleven thousand acres to be flooded were under water.  The first winter, the men cleared the additional area to be flooded.  In summer, they both slashed timber and operated construction machinery on the dam. 


The crescent length of the immense dam was to be more than three miles with a height of ninety feet above the river bed. 


Selective Service took over the camp in January 1944 because they needed the large camp facility to accommodate the numbers of CPS men who desired work in government camps.   Some men stayed on to help in the transition from MCC administration to Selective Service administration of this camp.


The camp became CPS Camp No. 128, one of five that in time earned the reputation of being “’dumping grounds’ for misfits and for C.Os charged with insubordination or unsatisfactory work performance”.  (Goossen p. 27)

Camp life:

Camp Lapine managed a herd of milk cows producing milk and dairy products for camp use.  MCC permitted camps to deduct any production from gardens or livestock from the overall food allowance and this permitted the camp to purchase higher grade foods. 

The men published New Horizons from January through December 1943, with a Supplement published in January 1944.

Luke Birky, who entered Lapine from his home in Albany, Oregon, worked as “a tree faller and heavy equipment mechanic.”  Reflecting on his experience over fifty years later, he wrote “War fever was at a high pitch so we met some hostility from people in the outside community.  We were viewed as cowards and ‘yellow bellies’ or worse.  So there were many things we had to think through.”  Even though he served more than three years in three camps, he noted the significance of his experience. 

We had formal classes in free time and had learning opportunities in our work assignments . . . .We had close companions from different religious, ethnic and social backgrounds and so this was a learning experience too.  Dealing with different backgrounds provided fodder for long, productive “bull sessions”.  It is true we were “locked in” but this gave us the time and space to resolve differences as those occasions occurred.  Camp leadership was excellent. (“Detour . . . Main Highway”: Our CPS Stories pp. 6-8)

Both the director and the men felt their work to be very significant and expressed great disappointment when Selective Service took over the project and operated it as a government run camp (#128).  MCC felt that this camp was one of its most successful base camps.


For more information on this camp, see Melvin Gingerich, Service for Peace: A History of Mennonite Civilian Public Service. Akron, PA: Mennonite Central Committee printed by Herald Press, Scottdale, PA 1949, pp. 168-169, 347, 387.


For more information on women COs see by Rachel Waltner Goossen, Women Against the Good War: Conscientious Objection and Gender on the American Home Front, 1941-47. Chapel Hill, NC:  The University of North Carolina Press, 1997.


For personal stories of CPS men, see Peace Committee and Seniors for Peace Coordinating Committee of the College Mennonite Church of Goshen, Indiana, “Detour . . . Main Highway”: Our CPS Stories. Nappanee, IN: Evangel Press, 1995, 2000. 


Swarthmore College Peace Collection, camp periodicals database.