CPS Camp 98

CPS Camp 98

CPS Camp No. 98     Coast and Geodetic Survey  Various Locations


Compiled by Anne M. Yoder, Archivist at Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA for the CPS Memorial Website.  Received January 21, 2011.



In operation 1943-1946

Director: Lt. Commander ___ Bernstein?; Commander E. Hemple?; R.A. Marshall?


Letter to J. Huston Westover from H.W. Elkinton, Jan. 19, 1944:

 “It seems right that I should make some kind of a report to somebody about CPS Unit 98 at Carlsbad.


This unit is the assignment to the Coast and Geodetic Survey. Just exactly what tie or status they have, other than a special service I do not know. Certainly they are not an AFSC-CPS responsibility and they thought that they were under the NSBRO, but apparently the answer came back that they were under the Govt. or Dept. of Commerce. This left all in semi-confusion as to whether they were another ‘Govt. Camp’ like Mancos and Lapine or just orphans! It’s too deep for me. All I can say is that with such loose attachment with CPS they became very ‘detached’ indeed and Geography adds to this remote feeling. No one other than myself has ever bent aside to visit and it is not likely that anyone else will.


The most serious difficulty is that lack of resource in regard to ‘complaints’ and the lack of legitimate advocate. In an episode over blankets George Weidman (a sort of chairman or leader of the group) had to blow through to Col. Kosch direct. This nettled Lt. Commander Bernstein very much as it was not through ‘channels’ and this unit or ‘Party’ as it is called officially in the Dept. of Commerce has a strong navy flare. Bernstein is a commission navy officer in charge of this triangulation and the set-up is very much according to ‘orders’ and tradition of a proud navy arm, namely the Coast and Geodetic Survey. Historically the navy charted harbors and coastal waters. This geodetic survey is apparently an after extension. It is very useful work: triangulation to establish fixed points on the map. Points or benchmarks that must be exactly positioned and so carefully set that they will serve the area for all time to come. Already sesimographical [sic] have used positions set by this Survey Party in this part of the country. Of course, the Govt. itself when it prints the very quadrangle maps will use these Positions of Survey….


This work throws many if not all of the men out into the country to perform certain exact duties. For example, they will be taking positions at night and most of the position work is done at night. Bernstein has to depend absolutely on each man at this post in a wheel of some 50 mile diameter to be at the post and to serve his light come Hell or high water or, more likely in Texas, come coyote, broken ankle or rattlesnake. If one light fails all the other work is useless….


A man must be teachable and do the signaling as it is wanted. The whole business of survey is quite exacting, mathematical and there is very little latitude (if any) for private ideas at least during the first 6 months…. Our men come generally with ideas fixed…. [That] is partly Young America. It is partly CPS, however, from the very nature of our offering….


I was amazed how much ‘independence’ is allowed the unit. Bear in mind that each man gets $2.00 per day. From this sum per month they pay for all their clothes and food and insurance. They manage their own mess…. [Each] man has 4 blankets and a quilt loaned to him from the army. Then tent and cot are also supplied but the whole outfit is very mobile. They pitch camp at central towns beyond determining and, of course, the work Bernstein concerns himself not at all with the internal life of the group.


This self-reliant requirement has its responsibility. A man is assigned to a ‘light’ post 50 miles from base camp. It is up to the man to take his ‘grub,’ rustle his own feed, and get along for the 24-48 hours he may be out. You can see that this feature would be very pleasing to some of our CPS men….


One lad, a graduate architect from Penn State, found that his Civil Service pal wore stove pipe sections on his legs as protection against rattlers. This was too much for our friend of NYC experience so he dropped tools and left….


Because the Party moves periodically, public relations tend to evaporate but it is very hard for our men to remember that there is a war on. Odd how detached and isolated they get. Of course, aside from private readings there is practically no chance of group study or courses. A few are reading in the area of surveying but it is difficult, although they pitch camp often near good libraries.”

[In Box 21e of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]


Letter to Alan Howe (U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey, Moapa, Nevada) from Barrett Hollister, June 7, 1944:

 “Lou Schneider has sent to us your letter with his reply. In one way or another we have heard directly or indirectly from three other assignees in your group all expressing the same general dissastisfactions [sic].

This afternoon I talked with Commander Hemple about the matter and must say that I received a bit less sympathetic hearing than on the previous occasions that we have taken men’s concerns to him. He spoke of Weidman’s having been in recently as a spokesman for all or a group of you. It was Hemple’s opinion that Weidman’s information and the other that has come to his attention is too general to indicate any real difficulties. My mentioning the imminence of transfer requests seemed to irritate him as such matters have not in the past. At this point he spoke critically of the group as rebelling against the more difficult work in the Nevada location.”

[In Box 21e of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]


Report of visits by Stanley Hamilton, March 13-15, 1945:

 “Arrival, Willcox (S.P.) about 6 p.m. March 13…. Got to camp just in time for supper. Unit lives in tents – moves once a month or oftener.


Met chief-of-party – Lieut. Commander Marshall – at supper. A likeable man, has the confidence and respect of the group. Has been with them two months. Shares camp life, eats with the group and ‘belongs.’ Knows how to get along with a group of men. Apparent contrast with former chief….


The men explained that there were no ‘meetings’ except when necessary and there is a minimum of organization. Some men frankly said they came to this unit to escape camp meetings. Morale and spirits high. Kidding and banter, but no more griping than would be expected with any group of healthy young Americans. All, without exception, seemed to like their work and were proud of it.


Wed. March 14--….About noon left with observation party – for station south of Bowie. Helped carry up from truck to point on small work knoll. This was a ‘drive station’ rather than a ‘pack station.’ Three in this party. Set up tent and instruments near platform above bronze station marker. They lined up nearby markers and azimuth. I went with Bill Wildman to locate latter – 3/10 of a mile, helped line up with small light and measure distance from Rangh house road. We then lined up light stations and several land marks. They used heliograph to signal light keepers on three other stations. Lined up land marks and other stations and computed angles. Finished work about 6 p.m. Returned equipment to truck and came in. Trip about 60 miles – out and return. It has permanent importance. Of course, this was an easy day. On some high peaks the men have to pack in the equipment – two hours to a half day. On the latter they must remain all night. Pretty rugged.

More visits with two groups in evening – in two different tents – talked about rural life and its place in making a peaceful world….


This is a splendid group and a very good project – there are 9 Quakers and 10 Brethren. Need more visitors – not to lecture or discuss problems – just to visit. They said I was the first Quaker visitor – in 14 months. No organized study groups but much learning going on. Learning skills and techniques on project – and much informal learning going on all the time.


Lt. Commander Marshall (Chief) took me to train and we had another good talk about men, project-attitudes, etc. I told him that the men liked him and that this seemed to be a splendid project.”

[In Box 21e of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]


Booklet “The Gang. C.P.S. U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, 1943-1946”:

 “A Southwestern Tour – 3rd Class: The story starts out with nine city bred, eastern boys arriving in what they thought was the wild and wooley west…., Ft. Stockton, the first of many camping places for CPS #98. The boys thought Ft. Stockton was bad until they moved onto Van Horn, a town which, until Willcox, was assailed as the epitome of lousy camping spots…. Carlsbad was next, with an irrigation ditch providing daily baths. Pine Springs and El Paso followed…. Four fellows arrived from West Campton to hop on the tour of the Southwestern States. The next two stops, Alamogordo and Roswell, the party grew by leaps and ‘bounders.’…. The field crew moved to ____ for two weeks, then back to Roswell for the Christmas vacation, and again to Carlsbad to start out the year, 1944.


A change of…scenery took the camp to Ozona, Texas, a memorable town, particularly for the two boys who met their wives there. At Sonora the Border Patrol raided the camp looking for a murderer, but couldn’t prove anything…. Then Junction was the place where a CO used non-violent(?) tactics successfully on a molesting sailor…. The drive up the Guadalupe near Ingram was especially beautiful, as was the country around Leakey, where the Edwards Lateau broke off into deep wooded canyons and clear, cool rivers. Ingram, Diamond Bar Ranch, and Garner State Park were the camping spots in this country and most of the work was done from steel towers.


Preparations for the Nevada move were long and strenuous…. Towers and other equipment were stored in Kerryville and old trucks were traded for better ones…. The first camp in Nevada was at Glendale…. The boys quickly found out the meaning of ‘rough cookie’ as the first week’s work included such memorable, or perhaps notorious stations as Hayword, Virgin, Mormon, and Cathedral. For the first time the field party was made up entirely of CPS men, who proved their worth by getting the results, even though they didn’t get much sleep.


Crystal Springs, the best camping spot on the Nevada scheme, was the next move. The builders, generally one step ahead of the rest of the party, came back from Panaca to join in the mud slinging when Major Fisk of Selective Service visited the outfit. Panaca was a small Mormon community almost entirely agricultural. Coast Surveyor’s time there was divided between keeping the local girls happy, and slapping mosquitos….


As was the usual practice in those days the large town (for Nevada) of Pioche was by-passed and the tents were pitched out on the desert at Pony Spring, a concrete cattle trough and a few Cottonwood trees…. Majors Place was little better, but at least had a bar which occasionally sold ice cream. It was here that E.H. decided to revolutionize the base line measuring industry and make the work twice as accurate by using a spring balance at each end of the tape….


The last camp on the scheme was set up at Ferguson Springs, south of Wendover, Utah. The rush act was put on the final two or three nights of observing, since the Army didn’t want us around to get in the way of any of their experiments…. Part of the crew departed for Lovelock to measure another base line. Finishing this they…rejoined the party at Peach Springs, Arizona, the next long move…. As a wet snow converted the three inch layer of dust on the campground into so much mud, stakes were pulled and the camp was moved to Prescott, where the tents were set up in an old CCC building.


After a short stay in Hillside the camp moved to Aguila, where the boys took over the Westerner, then on to spend the second Christmas at a whistle stop on the ATSF called Yucca R.A. Marshall arrived to replace E.H. as Chief…. With the beginning of a new regime the camp moved into classy living accommodations in the form of a FPHA unit in Miami, scene of large scale copper mining and refining operations. From here work carried the party on a winter scheme up the Gila River balley [sic] past Collidge Dam to Safford. Safford was one of the nicer towns the party chose for its headquarters, being a Mormon community and largely agricultural. Next stop was the dust bowl of Arizona, namely Willcox. After working a month there the boys were pulled off that scheme and sent to Deming, where a short arc to Las Cruces was whipped off and then another short move to Silver City, the start of the summer scheme along the continental divide….

The scheme was mountainous and wooded and general pretty nice country. Many of the stations were at fire lookout towers and lightkeepers and o-parties often got hot meals on station…. Beaverhead Ranger Station and Magdalena followed Silver City as camping spots, then Grants…. Taking a fling at living like the aborigines, some of the boys moved to Chaco Canyon, but were discouraged by the Ranger from setting up their cots in the ruins of Pueblo Bonito. Tiring of this, they moved to Farmington, where the San Juan River provided sorely needed bathing facilities….


Antonito, Colorado, was a very nice camp, and some of the nicest country triangulated by this party was near there…. Progressing to Raton, the campers were welcomed by the USO, who, lacking soldiers, held dances for the Coast Survey, girls and everything.


While the office moved to Santa Fe, the field party went to Parkview, of which the lass [sic] said the better. [Then on to] Albuquerque. At Kirtland Field the boys stayed in the WAC barracks, complete with everything but WACs…. After measuring the Santa Fe Base Line about five times from Albuquerque, the crew finally got it to check within one part of one, which is the limit specified by the 15th Order Manual…. Heading for the Sulphur Springs Valley, the crew again set up at Willcox…. At this writing, the author is sitting in three inches of Cochise County, finely divided. It seems that God has forgiven him, however, and is about to send him on a long rough scheme north of Phoenix and Globe….”


 [The booklet provides information about men from this camp: Roy W. Barnhard; Harlan G. Bowman; Wendell B. Brock; Richard E. Brown; J. Whitley Cavitt; Harold E. Chamness; Lawrence K. Croasdale; Henry R. Edmunds; Frederick Eissler II; Glenn P. Frank; David H. Gooch; Robert P. Green; J. Marcus Hadley; George A. Hay; Carlyle H. Hill; Daniel N. Hoffman; Robert A. Houy; Alan F. Howe; Alvin G. Huffmire; Claude E. Kinton; W. Earle Kolbe; Linden H. LaRouche; Joseph W. Letson; Thomas G. Lovering; Robert P. Lovett; Harold E. Lueloff; Earle E. Mason; John H. Messamer; Daniel L. McCoy; Norman G. McCoy; Julius Mock Jr.; Robert E. Newcomer; Donald W. Newton; Harry B. Pace; Ord B. Pace; Joseph W. Parker; Robert H. Reitinger; F. Behn Riggs Jr.; Harry F. Satterthwaite; Kenneth F. Schneider; Warren C. Shaw; Robert Sokol; Elias B. Stakland; Cornelius Steelink; Gilbert W. Stenberg; Quentin C. Stodola; Edward N. Strait; William J. Tilley; William F. Toothaker; Warren K. Uhte; Charles W. Voorheis; Orlando Weaver; George P. Weidman; Delmar E. Wiggins; William E. Wildman; Dale E. Williams; Galen W. Wolfe; Howard L. Wright]

 [In Box 21e of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]