In July 1955, $37.50 would cover a month's rent for a duplex at the Shadow Mountain Camp in Grand County. The catch: that isolated home might have been part of a former prisoner of war camp brought in from 370 miles away.
The camp went out for bid in 1939 and was built to house workers building the Colorado-Big Thompson Project's West Slope features, including the western sections of the Continental Divide Tunnel, Shadow Mountain Dam, Granby Dam and the Granby Pump Plant. When construction was completed, the camp housed operation and maintenance personnel.
Reclamation managed Shadow Mountain Camp and regularly reviewed its conditions and monitored rental evaluations to ensure competitiveness in the market. In managers' comparisons with "comparable private service" housing rentals, there was a line item deduction of 10 percent for rent because of the camp's "isolation factor."
The camp consisted of pre-fab metal-sided houses, small Quonset huts, duplexes, cottages, a garage and office building. The buildings ranged from two- to five-room residences, and from the outset, many were considered temporary. A 1947 letter from the regional director of Reclamation to Secretary Manager J.M. Dille of Northern Water noted that much of the housing in the camp was made up of structures "of a temporary character, finished with salvaged material from the Indianola (Neb.) Prisoner of War Camp."
Originally laid out with a "warm-air gravity heating system," as well as a fireplace, the camp homes were rewired and installed with electric heat in 1961. As it became more expensive to keep up with the maintenance, Reclamation transferred Shadow Mountain Camp to the National Park Service in 1971.
Today, you can spot some of the former camp buildings southeast of U.S. Highway 34 near Shadow Mountain Reservoir.
-- Alyssa Alpe, Records Data Analyst.