Life in a Construction Camp

The Comforts of Home in Remote Locations

During the eighteen years needed to complete the construction of the Colorado – Big Thompson project five construction camps were built to house project managers, engineers and construction workers.  These “camps” were in reality small towns that met the needs of the projects workers and their families.  These construction towns were fully planned communities by the Bureau of Reclamation.


Tunnel Camp

The Tunnel Camp was the first of several camps needed to complete construction of the massive Colorado–Big Thompson project.  The Green Reservoir camp was constructed on the left bank of Blue River. Workers constructed the Green Ridge Reservoir and the Alva B. Adams tunnel.  There were two separate communities at the Tunnel Camp, the workers camp, which housed the men constructing the reservoir dam, and the tunnel and the Headquarters camp which housed the engineers and their families.

The Tunnel workers camp had a large building that housed a commissary store (general store), a kitchen two large mess halls and a recreation hall. There were 25 bunkhouses, a common bath house and toilet. The time keeping office and doctor’s office were housed in two of the bunkhouses. Additional buildings including offices, warehouses, explosives shop, blacksmith shop and ambulance garage were all located near the tunnel construction area.


View artist renderings of what the standard Reclamation architecture looked like at "Big Tom" construction camps


Everything a Person Needs


A picture of tunnel campDue to the remote location of the tunnel construction a commissary or company store provided employees the opportunity to purchase needed goods. In the Tunnel Camp the commissary was stocked with work clothes, shoes, toilet articles, tobacco, cigarettes, soft drinks, 3.2% beer, and candy. A barbershop was also located in the commissary.


Learn what everyday life for workers and their families was like.