Several Civilian Conservation Corps dams were constructed in the Virgin Mountains region of Nevada and Arizona during the Great Depression era. These historic small dam projects were intended to create water reserves for cattle ranching way back in those days. The little dams were wedged into narrow dry wash canyon gaps in an effort to trap rainwater, but little was known about the long term environmental conditions in this end of the desert way back then. Long term drought conditions have left the CCC dams high and dry through the years and these structures have now been relegated as being historic follies from an age gone by.
Now that Gold Butte has recently achieved National Monument status, all historic sites within the boundaries have been preserved, including the CCC dams. Some of the cattle watering hole dams are located in remote places that are difficult to access, yet there is one that is very convenient to access and it is visitor friendly. After entering the Whitney Pocket scenic area on the Gold Butte Back Country Byway, head east a few hundred yards on Whitney Pocket Road to what looks like a small barren parking area between the red rock outcrops. A watering trough will come into view and the short foot path to the Whitney Pocket CCC Dam can be found there. The trail cuts through a narrow gap that dead ends where a tiny dam seals off the rest of the canyon. There is a staircase that runs up the side of the dam, which makes it easy to take a closer look. Winter is the best time of year for doing the Gold Butte CCC Dam tour, since the summer temperatures reach the boiling point, so be sure to check out the point of interest while the weather is cool!
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