A house outdoors, the can, loo, facilities, personal office, powder room, potty, outhouse or just the restroom. Every person has their own pet name for a bathroom and many bathrooms have unique looks about them. Not many toilets though, can claim the history that the Neinmeyer Campground outhouse can. Built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps this outhouse was part of a work program that gave many Americans a much needed job during the Great Depression. It still stands today built from river rock and pine serving campers who desperately need its services.
Up past Lucky Peak, past Diversion Dam, up past the Lucky Peak Reservoir and through some rough mountain roads lies the Neinmeyer campground. The drive up to this campground is very pretty and the scenery makes up for the rough ride. My partner and I drove up the Middle Fork road, a 35 mile winding road to go visit the historical Neinmeyer outhouse. The drive up is bumpy due to the slight washboard in the dirt trail and one side of the road is always accompanied by the river while the other side is often faced with uninviting rocky walls. It is a rewarding drive though, because the campground is pretty and the hot springs across the river are wonderfully inviting.
With all original architecture the outhouse is quite run down.
As one camper puts :it looks nice from a distance, but a closer inspection reveals an old bench seat style outhouse with peeling paint and rotting wood.” Like its campground, the outhouse is in need of “a little work”. Unlike outhouses of today, the Neinmeyer outhouse has decorative pieces added to the building to enhance the look of the architecture. Small triangular eaves stick out from under the green roof of the building, mimicking the pine branches on the trees around it. Vertical lines under the roof integrate some continuity in the building along with small flourishes along the underside. The curved wood just above the rocky walls compliments the river rock harvested from the nearby Middle Fork of The Boise River, and gives the whole side a softer appearance. As a whole the outhouse compliments its woody surroundings.
On the door, authentic women and men signs show signs of wear due to the unfinished original paint job. The handle is also original, but doesn’t work. The inside of the outhouse is quite disastrous with peeling paint, dirty seats and stained walls. The inadequate ventilation system, while decorative, does not aid in the airing of the room. Paint from the red eaves was dripped onto the rocks on the outside leaving red marks on the rocks jutting out from the mortar. The wall dividing the women and men doors adds to the character of the outhouse. This wall also speaks about the character of the era of when it was built, where conservatism was a big part of society. The outhouse shows character and carries a history from the 1930’s.
The Civilian Labor Corps along with other groups was a work program designed by President Franklin D Roosevelt to increase the amount of jobs to Americans during the Great Depression. Men applied to the program and when accepted, shipped out West to do odd jobs around the country. America greatly benefitted from these programs. They built roads, outhouses, camps, garages, bridges, lookout towers, cattle guards along with maintaining National Forests. The CCC focused mainly on outdoors in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Nevada, California and in the Yellowstone National Park constructing camps and working for the forestry service. In relation to Boise the CCC helped build the road to Shaffer Butte from Bogus Basin and our own, Nienmeyer campground.
The CCC helped people around the country obtain jobs and it created a new stream of money in the economy which marginally helped during the Depression. The CCC was known as Roosevelt’s Tree Army because it was credited with renewing the nations decimated forests by planting an estimated three billion trees. The men were required to send $25 of their pay check to their families back home and allowed to keep the left over 5 dollars to hold them over until the next pay check. The men were a long way from home being mostly from the East but since they were shipped out to the West it helped populate that part of the country and brought out more people.
Our own Nienmeyer outhouse was built in the early 1930’s by the CCC and originally the dividing wall was notched part way up. Later the full height and depth of the wall was filled in with lesser craftsmanship. The drive up to this unique outhouse is worthwhile as is seeing this historic building.
The labor put into these work projects was also worthwhile, as an ex-reporter from the East puts it in an excerpt story from Stories from the C.C.C. “There was something to work at, to occupy my mind, and to do well. I shall return not exactly as I left.” These work programs changed lives, invigorated the economy and influenced the shaping of the West and the lasting significance of those projects are not lost on those who appreciate history. The outhouses, roads and forests these men helped build still influence us today and we should appreciate the historical beauty of buildings that were erected with the intent of craftsmanship alongside usefulness.