Plumas County Points of Interest

WPA Tunnels on Feather River Scenic Byway
28 October 2011
(Click Photo to Zoom)
WPA Tunnels on Feather River Scenic Byway
State Route 70
Feather River Scenic Byway

Three impressive tunnels were blasted through solid granite: Arch Rock, Elephant Butte and Grizzly Dome which is the longest of the three at 1,187 feet and has viewing windows on the north side.

In 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had established the Works Progress Administration (the name was changed to Work Projects Administration in September of 1939), as part of his New Deal program to put millions of unemployed Americans back to work. The tunnels were a WPA project, with some of the rock removed from inside the tunnels used in the stone guardrails seen throughout the drive on the Feather River Scenic Byway.

Source: Western Pacific Railroad History Online

National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933

President Franklin Roosevelt came into office during the worst depression the nation had ever known. Fulfilling a campaign promise to put people to work, he instituted the New Deal to bring economic recovery to the depression-wrought country.

The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of 1933 authorized the Public Works Administration (PWA) to provide jobs, stimulate business activity, and increase purchasing power through the construction of permanent and socially useful public works. The Federal Government and local city, county and state governments formed a working partnership resulting in the greatest single construction program in history.

PWA construction projects, in addition to providing employment for the skilled, generated a volume of jobs for the unskilled. The PWA provided loans and grants up to forty percent of the total cost of the project to states, and many other public bodies, including schools.

From 1933-1935, the PWA underwrote projects in 3,040 of the 3,073 counties in all forty-eight states. Of the 3.76 billion dollars of the NIRA fund, 2.56 billion dollars was spent on 19,004 construction projects.

Narrative adapted in part from the NRHP nomination for Tulare Union High School Auditorium and Administration Building dated 16 November 1999.

Many buildings funded by the PWA have been recognized for their historic significance and architectural excellence. Among them are:


Adobe Chapel of the Immaculate Conception in San Diego
Aquatic Park in San Francisco
Beach Chalet Murals in San Francisco
Feather River Scenic Byway Tunnels
Federal Building in Merced

Federal Writers and Artists Projects in San Francisco
Gasquet Ranger Station
Mariposa County High School Auditorium
McClatchy Senior High School in Sacramento
Mountain View Adobe
Police Headquarters, Jail & Courts in San Diego

Rincon Annex Post Office in San Francisco
Sacramento Junior College
San Francisco State Teachers College
Sonora Youth Center
Stanislaus Forest Experiment Station

The Fort in Taft
Theodore Judah School in Sacramento
Tulare Union High School


Carson City Civic Auditorium
Hoover Dam
Southside School in Reno
Tonopah Main Post Office
USO Building in Hawthorne
Yerington Main Post Office


Butte Falls Ranger Station in Butte Falls
Dead Indian Soda Springs Shelter in Rogue River National Forest
Fish Lake Shelter in Rogue River National Forest
Gold Beach Ranger Station
Lake of the Woods Ranger Station in Fremont-Winema National Forest
Lithia Park in Ashland

McKee Bridge Campground in Rogue River National Forest
Wrangle Gap Shelter in Rogue River National Forest

Bryce Canyon Airport
Dalton Wells Civilian Conservation Corps
Minersville City Hall
Rock House in Arches National Park

Prev | Next
Plumas County: List | Map
California: List | Map