Thursday, June 12, 2014

State By State: Massachusetts

Massachusetts was situated in the 1st Corps area, which also included Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut.  Some 50 or so parks and forests in Massachusetts benefited from the work of the CCC and information on most of those locations can be accessed on a website maintained by the State of Massachusetts that you can access here.  While there is not a great deal of detail regarding specific projects, camp numbers or company numbers on this site, it is admirable that the state government has taken the time and effort to list where the CCC worked and to provide some information regarding what CCC-built improvements you might encounter at a given location.

An online copy of the book The Civilian Conservation Corps, Shaping the Forests and Parks of Massachusetts: A Statewide Survey of Civilian Conservation Corps Resources (Jan. 1999) can be accessed here.  The page is formatted to allow users to search the text for specific words.  For example a search for the word “accident” will pull up the page that discusses a monument dedicated to five enrollees killed in a truck accident at Sandisfield State Park in December 1934, which we will revisit later in this article.  This truly is a worthwhile resource for anyone seeking information regarding the work of the CCC in Massachusetts.
Much has been made of the “wish list” of projects that the state’s and technical services (Forest Service, National Park Service and the Bureau of Reclamation, for example) had when the CCC was created in 1933.  So many work projects and maintenance tasks had gone undone for a number of years leading up to the Great Depression that when Franklin Roosevelt created the CCC, agencies like the Forest Service had long lists of projects that were, indeed “shovel ready” and in need of workers to carry out the effort.  Such was not necessarily the case in Massachusetts, according to Perry H. Merrill, writing in Roosevelt’s Forest Army: A History of the Civilian Conservation Corps.  State leaders realized they would need to purchase acreage for parks and forests if they hoped to keep Massachusetts enrollees working in their home state.  According to Merrill, some 50,585 acres of state lands were purchased for this reason between 1933 and 1939.

We have some enrollment and work statistics from 1937 and 1939 that shed light on the impact of the CCC in Massachusetts, which were reported in the Annual Reports.  For example, total monthly enrollment in Massachusetts between July 1936 and June 1937 was as follows:

July 1936:                             12,266
August 1936:                        11,408
September 1936:                   8,003
October 1936:                      11,630
November 1936:                   10,929
December 1936:                   10,348
January 1937:                        12,114
February 1937:                      11,372
March 1937:                         7,817
April 1937:                           10,269
May 1937:                            9,391
June 1937:                            8,341

The distribution of CCC camps in Massachusetts in fiscal year 1937 was as follows:
State Park Camps:                       16
State Forest Camps:                     17
Private Forest Camps:                  4
Military Reservation Camps:         1

US Forest Service photo, published in Stan Cohen's The Tree Army
The annual reports include fold out charts that list project totals for dozens of types of work broken down by state.  Examples of specific work accomplished in Massachusetts in fiscal year 1937:

Camp Stoves and Fireplaces:  142
Vehicle Bridges: 14
Topographic Surveys:  704.6 acres
Signs, Markers, Monuments:  1,735
Emergency Work, Search & Rescue:  733 man days
Emergency Work, “Other”:  21,101 man days

The Annual Report for fiscal year 1939 reported total monthly enrollment in Massachusetts between July 1938 and June 1939 as follows:

July 1938:                             9,590
August 1938:                        9,114
September 1938:                  7,888
October 1938:                      9,355
November 1938:                   8,930
December 1938:                   7,124
January 1939:                       9,493
February 1939:                     9,229
March 1939:                         7,032
April 1939:                           9,206
May 1939:                            8,809
June 1939:                            6,272

The 1939 Annual Report includes more detail than the 1937 report.  For example, the 1939 report gives totals for selection of enrollees by state.  So, in fiscal year 1939 we know that 9,369 junior enrollees and 590 veterans were enrolled from the state of Massachusetts.

The distribution of CCC camps in Massachusetts in fiscal year 1939 was as follows:
State Park Camps:           9
State Forest Camps:        10
Private Forest Camps:     1

Examples of specific work accomplished in Massachusetts in fiscal year 1939:

Camp Stoves and Fireplaces:  111
Vehicle Bridges:  4
Surveys:  2,711 man days
Signs, Markers, Monuments:  141
Emergency Work:  103,949 man days

It is always interesting to speculate regarding why enrollment and work totals varied from year to year in the CCC.  We know that as the economy improved, enrollment in the CCC began to drop off because young men could more easily find work.  It also seems that CCC enrollment was somewhat seasonal in some regions, with enrollment numbers dropping off in agricultural areas during harvest season.  Such may not have been the case with Massachusetts but it is possible to speculate with some certainty regarding one form of CCC work project: the category termed “emergency work.”  We know that New England was hit by a devastating hurricane on September 21, 1938 and, according to Aram Goudsouzian in The Hurricane of 1938, 680 people perished, 72 million feet of power lines were knocked down putting 88 percent of the region in darkness and countless trees were uprooted.  In the aftermath of the disaster Goudsouzian reports, “Ten thousand workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps, which employed young men in forestry and flood control programs, cleared streets and helped save flood-threatened areas in Connecticut and Massachusetts.”  In hindsight, it’s little surprise then that the CCC focus on “emergency work” in Massachusetts jumped from around 21,000 man days in fiscal year 1937 to nearly 104,000 man days in fiscal year 1939, the year the big hurricane struck.  (Remember that fiscal year 1939 included the period when the hurricane struck in 1938.)

Happy Days was the official national newspaper of the Civilian Conservation Corps and it included reports of camp activities in all of the 9 Corps areas.  Sadly, some of the content of Happy Days was not so upbeat; accidents and fatalities were commonly reported and no fewer than eleven Massachusetts fatalities were reported in the pages of Happy Days between 1933 and 1940.

According to the January 2, 1934 issue of Happy Days, an enrollee in Company 1102 died from appendicitis.  The aforementioned book The Civilian Conservation Corps, Shaping the Forests and Parks of Massachusetts: A Statewide survey of Civilian Conservation Corps Resources notes that  Company 1102 was assigned to Camp S-63, which was established at Otter River State Forest in 1934.  Sadly, the microfilm copy of Happy Days is not clear enough to read the enrollee’s name in this case but it appears to have been George  –aki.

The most tragic episode in Massachusetts’ CCC history was likely the death of five enrollees who were killed in a truck accident on December 16, 1934 while en route to 8:00 AM mass at St. Peter’s Church.  The tragedy was reported on page 1 of the December 22, 1934 issue of Happy Days.  Killed in the truck accident were enrollees Benoit Helie, James Leavy, Francis Kippenberger, Elden Holland and Frank Capozzuto.  Presumably, the dead enrollees had been assigned to Camp S-71, in Company 196, based on information in the aforementioned online resource, The Civilian Conservation Corps, Shaping the Forests and Parks of Massachusetts.  You can also read an online article from 1997 about the area and the monument here.

Two years after the truck accident, Happy Days had the decidedly unhappy duty of reporting the death of Santino Boccabello of Company 1173, Salem, Massachusetts.  According to the December 12, 1936 issue of Happy Days, enrollee Boccabello was killed in a landslide while working in a gravel pit.  Ironically, the same issue of Happy Days contained an article reporting that the monthly fatal accidents were down by 31% in the CCC. No doubt the news came as cold comfort for Boccabello’s buddies in camp.

Four Massachusetts CCC fatalities are separated by space and time but remain related by virtue of their commonality: in each case the enrollee was struck by a car.  The death of enrollee Henry Piezarek, Company 135, Palmer, Massachusetts, was reported in the July 2, 1938 issue of Happy Days.  Russell Crozier, assigned to Company 1181, North Reading, Massachusetts was struck by a truck while on a pass from camp, the report of his death appearing in the August 5, 1939 issue of Happy Days.  The front page of the January 20, 1940 issue of Happy Days carried the sad news that enrollee Reed Berry, from Company 4426, Lexington, Massachusetts, was struck and killed by a car while on leave.  Finally, Joseph Budrunias, a veteran with Company 1181, was struck and killed by a car while on leave; his death was reported on page 1 of the March 16, 1940 issue of Happy Days.

To be sure the primary purpose of Happy Days was to convey positive upbeat stories about life and work in the CCC.  Any given issue might contain stories both earth shattering and obscure from camps across the nation.  The May 30, 1936 issue of Happy Days included a number of brief articles detailing activities in Massachusetts camps, including an account of an enrollee field trip to a local dam, a report that Company 1139 at West Townsend, Massachusetts was preparing to reactivate their camp radio station and news that Company 1189 was working on a poultry project.

Elsewhere in the same issue is a brief story about the work of a crew of enrollees in Company 1199 stationed at East Douglas, Massachusetts.  According to the report, the crew accounted for the planting of 125,000 trees in the span of just 700 man-days.  Put in perspective, one 6-man detail from this crew planted 3,600 trees in a single day!  The article goes on to detail some of the recreational activities taking place in the camp after work ours. 

In another article in the same column of print, the May 30, 1936 issue of Happy Days reported that enrollees in Company 143 at North Adams, Massachusetts had created a model club with 12 men working individually on model airplanes as working as a group on a large plane model to be displayed in the camp recreation hall.

Here are two more Massachusetts-related articles from the May 30, 1936 issue of Happy Days.


Berg, Shary Page, The Civilian Conservation Corps, Shaping the Forests and Parks of Massachusetts: A Statewide Survey of Civilian Conservation Corps Resources, January, 1999, Landscape Preservation Planning and Design, Cambridge, MA.  (Accessible online here.)

Happy Days, May 30, 1936.

Merrill, Perry H, Roosevelt’s Forest Army, 1981, Perry H. Merrill, Publisher.

U.S. Government Printing Office, Annual Report of the Director of Emergency Conservation Work, Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1937.

U.S. Government Printing Office, Annual Report of the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1939.

Copyright, 2014, Michael I. Smith

Thursday, May 8, 2014

State-By-State: Maryland

Maryland is in the 1st Corps area, and in close proximity to Washington, DC.  A good deal of CCC work was undertaken in this relatively small state, which may be due in part to the fact that Maryland is so close to America’s seat of government.  No doubt CCC projects in Maryland made for appealing public relations visits for senators and congressmen and they probably served as suitable examples of how the CCC funding was being put to good use.

Beltsville, MD CCC camp, 1936, view looking toward camp HQ.

The Federal Security Agency Annual report of the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps for Fiscal Year Ended June 1942 includes a detailed accounting of the work done by CCC enrollees at the Beltsville, Maryland Agricultural Research Center.  The report is significant enough to warrant a full quote here.  The account begins on page 55 of the report and reads as follows:

“Beltsville Agricultural Research Center
At the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Maryland, are carried on agricultural-research projects and numerous field experiments of the various bureaus and agencies of the Department of Agriculture.
This area includes specific areas assigned for experimental purposes to the Bureaus of Animal Industry, Plant Industry, Dairy Industry, Entomology and Plant Quarantine, Food and Drug Administration, Forest service, and Soil Conservation Service, all of the Department of Agriculture; Biological Survey of the Department of Interior since June 30, 1939, and the Bureau of Standards of the Department of Commerce.  The Center has been the scene of an intensive CCC program since October 1933.
While work projects on the Center are similar in type to the general CCC program, a rather heavy program for the development of the whole area and particularly roads, fences, water and sewer lines, shed construction, grading operations, and landscaping, was carried on by the CCC.
The first CCC camp at the Research Center came in October 26, 1933.  In 1934 another was assigned and in 1935 two more.  One company went out in October 1936, three continued until 1942, and the last one closing on July 21, 1942.  In October 1941, the Plant Industry Camp (NA-1) at the national Arboretum, was transferred to Beltsville supervision; it was closed however in December 1941.
From early 1941, one of the camps while still quartered at Beltsville carried on national defense work at Fort Meade, Maryland.  From February 1942 to its closing, another Research Center camp devoted 60% of its work to Fort Meade projects.

Log cabin recreation center at the Beltsville, MD animal husbandry center.
For the fiscal year f1942, the major CCC contributions have been the installation of pipe lines, construction and maintenance of roads and parking areas, razing undesired structures, seeding and sodding, landscaping and soil conservation work.  This work is of considerable value, when viewed as part of the nine-year camp program at Beltsville.  Since 1933, the camps have constructed 39 bridges, 49 buildings of various types, over 65 miles of roads and trails, 29,000 square yards of parking areas, and 12,000 feet of walks, erected 130,000 rods of fence, installed 174,000 feet of water supply pipe lines and 309,000 feet of other pipe and tile lines, planted 78,000 trees and shrubs and seeded or sodded over 700 acres, done20,000 man-days of nursery work, 3000 acres of general cleanup, moved many thousands of cubic yards of earth incident to grading operations and performed many other operations of great importance to the Center.  Not only have these accomplishments been of value to the Research Center, its many participating units and the Department of Agriculture, but also much valuable job training, experience and related education has been provided many young men (mostly from rural areas) in these camps and this uplifting influence undoubtedly has and will pay substantial dividends in the form of better men and better workers so essential to the nation in this time of need.”

For a terrific history of the CCC in Maryland, click Here.

For more photos of the CCC at Beltsville, Maryland, click Here.

Maryland is also home to a CCC project that, over the years, has come to be a place of national importance, even if most Americans have never been there:  Camp David in the Catoctin Mountains.  A National Park Service brochure for Catoctin Mountain Park notes that in 1935 more than 10,000 acres of land in the Catoctin Mountains were acquired by the federal government for development as the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area (RDA) with the goal of finding new uses for marginal lands.  (Prior to the advent of the CCC, the Catoctin’s had been exploited – overused, really – for the production of charcoal, which involved clear cutting of forest, stripping of bark for tanning and general logging work.)  A list of National Park CCC camps published in The Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Park Service, 1933-1942 shows that the Catoctin RDA was home to Camp NP-3 (formerly SP-7) during enrollment periods 14, 15 and 16 as well as camp SP-3 for an unspecified period of time.  Part of the purpose behind the work in Catoctin was to develop recreational areas for the enjoyment of the people from nearby urban areas, including Washington, DC.  According to Ren and Helen Davis in Our Mark on this Land, the WPA laid out the park and constructed the camp facilities while the CCC, beginning in 1939, undertook reforestation work.  One interesting component of the CCC work at Catoctin Mountain Park noted in Our Mark on this Land is the work of CCC enrollees to collect old fence posts from within the boundary of the park for use in reconstructing fences in Gettysburg National Military Park (where the CCC also worked).

While the bulk of Catoctin Mountain Park is accessible to the public, Camp David is decidedly not open to the public and indeed there is even a no-fly zone imposed in the airspace over Camp David.  I know from personal experience that visitors to Catoctin Mountain Park may drive within close proximity of Camp David without even knowing it.  The following information about Camp David comes from the book, The President Is at Camp David, by W.Dale Nelson.  What is now Camp David, was originally known as Camp #3 or Camp Hi-Catoctin.  With an elevation of 1,800 feet, the location landed on a short list of sites deemed suitable as a presidential retreat for President Roosevelt in 1942.  At that time, the camp, which had been intended as a recreational facility for families, included three units of six four-cot cabins, a swimming pool, craft shop, and playing field along with an office, showers and recreation hall.  The Secret Service would eventually occupy a former CCC barracks, which FDR christened “221B Baker Street” after the fictional abode of Sherlock Holmes.  The Secret Service agents called the barracks, “The Long House.” 

Paige’s book on the CCC and the National Park Service lists all of the park service CCC camps in Maryland:

NP-1 Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, Montgomery County
NP-2 Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, Montgomery County
NP-3 Catoctin RDA, Frederick County
NP-4 Fort Washington, Prince Georges County
SP-1 Fort Frederick State Park, Washington County
SP-2 Patapsco State Park, Baltimore and Howard County
SP-3 Catoctin RDA, Frederick County
SP-4 Gambrill State Park, Frederick County
SP-5 Elk Neck State Park & Forest, Cecil County
SP-6 Maryland-Washington Metro/Rock Creek Park Extension, Montgomery and Prince George County
SP-7 Catoctin RDA, Frederick County

The work of the CCC at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park is also worthy of note in any discussion of the CCC in Maryland.  Companies 325C and 333C, composed of African-American enrollees from the urban centers of Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC, worked to clear the historic canal alignment of debris and remove vegetation from the tow path.  They’d managed to complete work on 22 miles of canal before the U.S. entered World War and work was terminated.  For details of this project, including a photo, see Our Mark is on this Land.

Happy Days, the CCC’s national newspaper, reported on the deaths of at least five individuals affiliated with the CCC between 1933 and 1940:

Harry E. Jackson, an enrollee with Company 335, Brandywine, Maryland drowned and the tragedy was reported on page 16 of the June 27, 1936 issue of Happy Days.

Enrollee Albert Barnes from the Beltsville, Maryland camp was killed en route to a fire.  Barnes company number is not listed but his death was reported in the November 21, 1936 edition of Happy Days.

William Taylor, an enrollee in Company 2314 at Beltsville drowned, as reported on page one of the Happy Days issue of July 9, 1938.

Another Beltsville enrollee, Abe H. Kelly, also of Company 2314, was killed in an automobile accident while on leave, according to the October 7, 1939 issue of Happy Days.

Harold F. Kurtz was a U.S. Forest Service CCC inspector who was killed in an auto accident according to the October 14, 1939.  It is unclear whether Kurtz was somehow affiliated with the Rockville, Maryland CCC camp or if, perhaps, the accident occurred in Rockville.

We’ll close the Maryland entry for the State-By-State series with some enrollment and work statistics from the Annual Reports for 1937 and 1939. The Annual Reports are a terrific resource for things like overall enrollment by state and numbers of individual tasks completed, however there isn’t any information pertaining to specific work at individual locations in the various states.  Nevertheless, it’s interesting to compare work totals from year to year and to speculate as to why the numbers might have fluctuated from one report to another.

The Annual Report of the Director of Emergency Conservation Work for fiscal year ended June 30, 1937 lists totals for dozens of job types by state, including the following totals for work in Maryland, for example:
Vehicle Bridges:  13
Buildings (all types, incl. cabins, latrines & shelters):  43
Airplane Landing Fields:  3
Fighting Forest Fires:  6,727 man days
Fire Prevention:  3,883 man days

Enrollment figures from the 1936-1937 report give the following monthly enrollment numbers for Maryland:
July 1936:  3,240
August 1936:  3,008
September 1936:  2,464
October 1936:  3,115
November 1936:  2,942
December 1936:  2,766
January 1937:  2,999
February 1937:  2,864
March 1937:  2144
April 1937:  2,476
May 1937:  2,262
June 1937:  1,910

The average breakdown of Maryland CCC camps by type for the reporting period July 1936-June 1937 was as follows:
State Forest:  13
Mosquito Control:  2
Animal Industry:  3
Agricultural Engineering:  3
Soil Conservation:  3
State Parks:  2
Military Reservations:  3
Naval Reservations:  1

The Annual Report of the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps for fiscal year ended June 30, 1939 (note the change in the title from “Emergency Conservation Work” to “Civilian Conservation Corps.”) gives these totals for the same types of jobs:

Vehicle Bridges:  8
Buildings (all types, incl. cabins, latrines & shelters): 28
Airplane Landing Fields:  0
Fighting Forest Fires:  3,346 man days
Fire Prevention:  40 man days

Enrollment figures from the report give the following monthly enrollment numbers for Maryland:
July 1938:  2,932
August 1938:  2,737
September 1938:  2,427
October 1938:  3,024
November 1938:  2,920
December 1938:  2,680
January 1939:  3,031
February 1939:  2,928
March 1939:  2,089
April 1939:  2,947
May 1939: 2,817
June 1939:  2,385

The breakdown of Maryland CCC camps by type for the reporting period July 1938-June 1939 was as follows:
National Parks/Monuments:  2
State Parks:  2
State Forest:  7
Animal Industry: 3
Agricultural Engineering:  3
Soil Conservation Service:  3

Davis, Ren & Helen, (2011), Our Mark on This Land: A Guide to the Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps in America’s Parks, The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company.

Federal security Agency Annual Report of the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps, Fiscal Year Ended June 1942 (no publisher noted).

Nelson, W. Dale, (1995).  The President is at Camp David, Syracuse University Press.

Paige, John C. (1985), The Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Park Service, 1933-1942.  National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior.

U.S. Government Printing Office, Annual Report of the Director of Emergency Conservation Work, Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1937.

U.S. Government Printing Office, Annual Report of the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1939.

The photos of the Beltsville, Maryland CCC work are United States Forest Service images from Stan Cohen's book The Tree Army: A Pictorial History of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942.

Copyright, 2014, Michael I. Smith

Monday, April 28, 2014

State-By-State: Maine

Maine was situated in the First Corps Area, and it is said that Maine is the first point on the continental United States to receive direct sunlight every morning when the sun rises above the eastern horizon.  Consequently, we can reasonably argue that the CCC boys in Maine were the first CCC lads to see the sun every day. 

Perry Merrill reports on some basic CCC statistics for the state of Maine in his book Roosevelt’s Forest Army.  Merrill quotes figures from the 1937 Annual Report of the Director of the CCC, which I will expand upon later in this post, but as a starting point, Merrill reported that an average distribution of CCC camps in Maine for that period was:

Company 2140 at Southwest Harbor
National Forest:  1
State Forest:  1
Private Forests: 8
National Parks: 2
State Parks: 2
Military Reservation: 1
Merrill also refers to some overall figures for the CCC in Maine; specifically that the aggregate number of Maine men who gained employment in the CCC was 18,298 which included 16,686 junior and veteran enrollees and 1,612 non-enrolled personnel.  Overall, Merrill reports that the total number of individuals who worked in Maine, regardless of their state of origin was 20,434.
The 1937 Annual Report includes a section of fold out spreadsheets broken down by state and by project or job type.  The list shows that, among other things, CCC enrollees constructed 429 rods of guard rail in Maine during fiscal year 1937.  (A rod is a surveying measurement that is equivalent to 16.5 feet so multiplying the 429 rods by 16.5 tells you that the CCC boys constructed quite a bit of guardrail in Maine between 1936 and 1937 alone!)  Here are some other job type totals from the 1937 Annual Report that are not listed in Merrill:
Co 1130 masonry
Tree Insect Pest Control: 10,694 acres
Fire Prevention: 118 man days
Fire Suppression: 909 man days
Topographic Surveys: 819 acres
Signs, Markers and Monuments: 837
Emergency Work: 1,068 man days
The 1939 Annual Report includes the same sort of fold out spreadsheets and a comparison of similar job types finds these totals for fiscal year 1939 (year ended June 30, 1939:
Guard Rail: 6 rods
Tree Insect Pest Control:  3,849 acres
Fire Prevention:  0 man days
Fire Suppression:  4,723 man days
Topographic Surveys: Not Reported in the 1939 Report
Signs, Markers and Monuments: 55
Emergency Work: 27,783 man days
It is interesting to compare job totals from one report to another and to speculate, for example, why the total length of guard rail installed dropped so sharply between the 1937 and the 1939 annual reports.  It is also intriguing to see that fire prevention work declined from 118 man days in the 1937 report to zero days spent in fire prevention work in the 1938-1939 report.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the amount of time spent actually fighting fires jumped drastically from one report to the other (909 man days in the 1937 report up to 4,723 man days in the 1939 report).  Is it possible that the decline in fire prevention work led to an increased need for firefighting in the year or two that followed?  It’s an interesting thing to consider. 
Year to year changes in CCC work rates for things like fire suppression work might also be linked to major disasters that struck the east coast during this period and nowhere is the effect of those disasters more evident than in the comparison of CCC enrollee time spent on the job of “emergency work” in 1936-37 compared to 1938-1939.  The 1937 report lists 1,068 man days were devoted to emergency work, whereas, in the 1938-1939 time period CCC enrollees devoted 27,783 man days to emergency work.  The two disasters that likely account for such a drastic uptick in time devoted to so-called “emergency work” were flooding and hurricane.  Indeed, you could argue that one high water mark for the CCC in Maine was their assistance in response to devastating floods that struck in the winter of 1935-1936.  A personal recollection from enrollee Norman Wetherington, published in In the Public Interest, recounts the mobilization of enrollees from Company 1124 in response to a call from the town of Bridgton:
The afternoon of Friday the 13th, Lt. Fearer, commanding officer of the 1124th company received a call for help from the town of Bridgton.  He drove down to the edge of town to view the situation.  He took one look and went back to camp immediately.  Inside of a half hour he had the entire camp personnel loaded into trucks (seven forestry trucks and two Army trucks) headed for Bridgton.  The little army consisted of two officers, all forestry supervisors, office personnel, and the entire roster of CCC boys, except for three cooks that were left in camp to make sandwiches
Another natural disaster just two years later required the mobilization of hundreds of CCC enrollees in response to the September 1938 hurricane, which impacted dozens of towns in western Maine.  According to Schlenker, Wetherington and Wilkins, writing in In the Public Interest: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Maine, A Pictorial History, the hurricane stuck with such force “that whole stands of forest growth were wind-thrown, creating a high forest fire hazard.”  Such was the fear of a forest conflagration, the governor of Maine suspended hunting season in two counties and prohibiting smoking or burning of any kind in the woods.  In addition to valuable fire reduction work, it is estimated that some 75,000,000 board feet of lumber was salvaged from the hurricane area.
To be sure, firefighting and disaster response were not the only work efforts undertaken by the CCC in Maine.  Among the premier Maine state parks to benefit from the work of the CCC is Camden Hills State Park.  Park visitors encounter the work of the CCC almost immediately upon entering the park as they pass the stone entry gate and contact station.  Other CCC improvements in the park include hiking and ski trails and a group pavilion.  Ren and Helen Davis report that there are more than 40 CCC-built structures in active use there, including a dining hall, cabins, classrooms and bathhouses.

Members of the Company 1130 baseball team, Camden, Maine, 1940
As we have seen in previous installments in the State-By-State series, life and work in the CCC could be dangerous and enrollees in Maine were not immune to that danger.  Happy Days, the official newspaper of the CCC, reported on the deaths of at least two Maine enrollees.  Page one of the June 30, 1934 issue of Happy Days reported that Charles A. Merrey of Company 154 at Bar Harbor, Maine had been killed in an auto accident.  The August 5, 1939 edition of Happy Days reported that enrollee Clarence D Thurlow of Company 158 was killed when he fell from a cliff while on leave.

Co. 1130, NP-3-Me, Camden, Maine
 For access to a terrific CCC-related page operated by the Maine State Archives, click here.  On this page you’ll be able to access a list of Maine’s CCC camps and a Tribute page where personal stories of CCC service are posted and honored.

Company 1130, NP-3-ME, Camden, Maine, 1940
First Corps area map, October 1940, from the Company 1130 Pictorial Review
Enrollee John McLeod works in the woodshop, Co. 1130, Camden, Maine


Photos:  With the exception of the first map, all images are courtesy of Mr. John McLeod, who served as an enrollee in Company 1130, camp NP-3-Me, Camden, Maine in 1940.  John is a devoted advocate of the CCC legacy and an Iwo Jima Marine.  Thank you, John!

Davis, Ren & Helen, (2011), Our Mark on This Land: A Guide to the Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps in America’s Parks, The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company.

Merrill, Perry H, Roosevelt’s Forest Army, 1981, Perry H. Merrill, Publisher.

U.S. Government Printing Office, Annual Report of the Director of Emergency Conservation Work, Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1937.

U.S. Government Printing Office, Annual Report of the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1939.

Schlenker, J.A., Wetherington, N.A. and Wilkins, A.H., (no date), In the Public Interest: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Maine, A Pictorial History, University of Maine, Augusta.

Copyright, 2014, Michael I. Smith