Wednesday, December 28, 2011

License and Registration, Please


It’s amazing how the loose ends of research can sometimes tie together nicely and, perhaps not such a surprise when the loose ends don’t tie together so well. Then, there are those times when the loose ends come tantalizingly close to tying together nicely, but not quite.

Some time ago I purchased a neat 8 by 10 inch black and white photo of a CCC foreman standing beside a pickup truck that bears a CCC license plate. The photo was taken at an unnamed CCC camp in Arizona – at least that’s the story. I made a half-hearted attempt to track down the camp but to little avail.

More recently, I happened to jump over to the James F. Justin Civilian Conservation Corps Museum and scrolled through the photo collection. While there I came upon a series of photos from Company 340, Camp DG-46-A near Kingman, Arizona. One in particular, of a civilian boss, "Cowboy" on a horse, caught my eye because it shows the front end of a pick-up truck with a clear view of the CCC license plate. My heart jumped! The terrain is nearly exactly the same as the terrain in my photo of a CCC foreman beside the pickup truck. Could it be the same truck? I couldn’t check the facts right away, but got around to it the very first chance I got.

Close, really close; but no cigar.

Turns out the license plate on the truck in the picture from the James Justin site is numbered “75549.” Clearly the little truck has seen better days- you can tell just from the condition of the front grill. The license plate sits askew and it appears that a piece of wire has been strung across the front to hold the grill in place.  The license plate on the pick-up truck in my photo is “75569.”


While I’m disappointed to find the two pictures are of different trucks, I can at least draw some inferences from them. It now seems clear that my 8x10 photo is indeed an image from an Arizona CCC camp – how else can you explain the fact that the license plate numbers are just twenty digits apart numerically? Add in the fact that the terrain in each photo is nearly identical and I’d venture that the trucks may very likely have been assigned to the same camp. I suspect there are records held somewhere that will list the license plate numbers for each vehicle by camp, but I’m hard pressed to say where those records might be. The only documents I have encountered that include vehicle license numbers from the CCC are accident reports submitted following vehicle crashes. Perhaps there is something to be explored along those lines but in the meantime, I’ll have to be content to know I haven’t quite tied these loose ends together, but it sure made for some interesting research.



Sunday, November 13, 2011

A New Addition to the CCC Literature Pyramid
In my mind’s eye, the canon of Civilian Conservation Corps literature is arrayed in the shape of a pyramid with the broad-based scholarly treatments forming the base and the more detailed individual accounts of the work of the CCC stacking up to create the successive levels of the pyramid until it rises to a single representative personal narrative. I suspect that if each of us has our own “CCC Literature Pyramid” then each is slightly different, but for me the base is formed by John Salmond’s The Civilian Conservation Corps and Neil Maher’s Nature’s New Deal and the rising layers formed by Perry Merrill’s Roosevelt’s Forest Army, Kathy Mays-Smith’s Gold Medal CCC Company, and so forth, rising upward to that single account that epitomizes the CCC story.

And just as the building blocks of each CCC Literature Pyramid are different from person to person, the book that sits atop each pyramid as a representation of the best of the individual personal narratives of life in the CCC differs from person to person as well. For me, Louis Purvis’s The Ace in the Hole rises above all other examples of personal accounts of life in the CCC and thus it sits atop the CCC Literature Pyramid in my mind’s eye, though I never forget the that the canon of CCC literature is built upon the broad based treatments that form the base of the structure.

If you’ve stuck with me thus far, I thank you, because I do have a point. First, I want to get the notion of the CCC canon of literature and the pyramid concept out there for consideration. Second, the fact that a book about the CCC at Grand Canyon occupies the pinnacle of my CCC Literature Pyramid makes the most recently released CCC history offering all the more exciting and interesting because we now have a broad based history of the work of the CCC at Grand Canyon National Park thanks to retired National Park Service Ranger Robert Audretsch.

Shaping the Park and Saving the Boys will become one of those building blocks in the CCC literature pyramid that serves to strengthen the larger canon of knowledge while also providing an important focus on CCC work at a specific location – and what location could be more noteworthy than Grand Canyon National Park?

Robert Audretsch has uncovered some new mysteries even as he shines a light on previously unknown facts about the CCC and its work at Grand Canyon. While touching on aspects of the CCC that are well known and widely covered by previous authors and historians, Audretsch also delves deeply into the details of project work at one of the crown jewels in the National Park system. Shaping the Park and Saving the Boys has a useful combination of scholarly research and popular writing style that make it a book to read for pleasure and retain for research. Granted, some readers may lament the inclusion of so much data from the routine camp inspection reports and similar government documents, but those of us who’ve spent any time at all researching or even thinking about the CCC, know that in many instances, these government reports are all that remain to connect us to the hard, valuable work done nearly eight decades ago. Where else is an author to turn when the boys who performed the work are leaving us at an ever increasing rate? (Bear in mind that CCC enrollees were, on average, older than their younger draftee and enlistee comrades who served in the war that ultimately killed the CCC.)
If a balanced, engaging narrative style and a robust research and reference component aren’t enough to recommend Shaping the Park and Saving the Boys, add the fact that Audretsch has included a collection of photos and illustrations that are second to none and the book has something for everyone. While a few of the photos have appeared elsewhere in other books and articles on the CCC, it is likely that many of the photos are appearing in print publication for the first time and they haven’t been included merely to serve as window dressing to the narrative. Audretsch uses many of the illustrations to support observations and conclusions made in the text; a technique that may be the only method we have one day when all the living participants to the story are gone and the last primary source material is uncovered. Readers will marvel at the image of CCC Director Fechner sitting astride a Grand Canyon mule, shudder at the notion of climbing to the precarious tip top of a CCC built tree tower, and ponder the images of mixed race CCC squads working and posing together at Grand Canyon in an era when Jim Crow held sway throughout so much of this land.

Going forward, as the canon of CCC literature grows, we’re likely to find in each new offering that what was old will be new again, over and over and over. Each new book will, of necessity, recite the important background of the CCC and then move on to carefully uncover some unknown or long forgotten aspects of specific CCC work in one state or locale. The better offerings will include more coverage of the site specific history, perhaps at the risk of leaving newcomers in the dark regarding details of the broader CCC program. Shaping the Park and Saving the Boys succeeds in large part because it strikes a good balance between what is old – the broader history of the CCC as a New Deal Program – and what is new – those tantalizing, heretofore unknown or forgotten details of day-to-day Civilian Conservation Corps work at Grand Canyon. Casual readers will enjoy the book both as a primer on the New Deal’s most popular program, and as a portrait of CCC life at Grand Canyon, while researchers will find themselves returning to its pages again and again for useful nuggets in the text as well as within the footnotes.


This is my first post to CCCRP in some time.  I'm hoping to overcome some issues I've had with Blogger so that I can resume posting more new material and perhaps continue the State by State series in the near future.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Problems with Google Blogger

My goal had been to post a State-By-State entry here at CCCRP every week. I posted last week's entry despite having unresolved formatting problems. I've attempted to post the State-By-State entry for Indiana this morning and find that the same formatting problem exists. I will not continue posting the State-By-State articles until this issue is resolved, either through the Google Blogger system or by re-establishing CCCRP under a different blogging system elsewhere. Because the State-By-State entries rely on columns of numbers and dates, line and paragraph breaks are especially important; otherwise the date just appears on the page in a jumbled mess. I may re-post the Illinois entry over at Forest Army, or I may simply attempt to post the current Indiana entry over at Forest Army. In any event, I'll keep you posted regarding where to find future State-By-State entries going forward.
I'm sorry for the interruption. (You'll note that even this entry, made directly into the posting window does not include paragraph breaks. I won't pretend that this is a good way to post information that I feel is useful to CCC researchers and scholars. I'll figure out something else.)

Monday, April 4, 2011

The CCC State-By-State: Illinois

Note: Google Blogger refuses to properly format this entry so the paragraph breaks and the individual camp totals and project totals are fouled up. I've tried three times to repost this piece to make it read properly but without success. I apologize for the difficulty and I will continue to remedy the formatting problem. Perhaps it's time to change to a different blogging system. Illinois was situated in the Sixth Corps area, along with Michigan and Wisconsin and according to Perry Merrill writing in Roosevelt’s Forest Army, a total of 92,094 individuals worked in the CCC in Illinois, regardless of their state of origin. The Annual Reports give some indication of enrollment totals in the state of Illinois. For example the Annual Report of the Director of Emergency Conservation Work for fiscal year 1937 breaks out the monthly enrollment totals for Illinois as follows: July 1936: 18,334 August 1936: 17,400 September 1936: 14,368 October 1936: 17,315 November 1936: 16,316 December 1936: 15,554 January 1937: 18,226 February 1937: 17,386 March 1937: 11,127 April 1937: 13,391 May 1937: 12,304 June 1937: 10,890 Remember that these are monthly totals for the number of enrollees who joined the CCC in Illinois – not a total of enrollees actually working in Illinois on a month-to-month basis. In Roosevelt’s Forest Army, Perry Merrill notes that an average of 54 CCC camps operated in Illinois, which is significantly lower than the 70 camps listed in the Annual Report for fiscal year 1937. During roughly that same period (July 1936 through June 1937) the distribution of CCC camps by technical service was reported in the Annual Report as follows: National Forest camps: 8 Private Forest camps: 1 Agricultural Engineering camps: 6 Soil Conservation camps: 27 State Park camps: 27 Military Reservation camps: 1 Merrill’s camp totals for the period ending September 30, 1937 are as follows: National Forest camps: 8 Private Forest camps: 1 Agricultural Engineering camps: 5 Soil Conservation Service camps: 4 State Park camps: 27 Military Reservation camps: 1 Clearly there is a flaw in the data somewhere given that the numbers reported are so significantly different. It doesn’t seem feasible that the Soil Conservation Service lost some 23 camps between the time that the 1937 Annual Report was released and when the camp numbers that Merrill cites came out in September of that year. This is just one example of how difficult it can be to square some of the number totals associated with the Civilian Conservation Corps; heck, historians can’t always agree on how many enrollees actually served in the CCC for that matter. The Annual Report of the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1939 breaks out the average number of camps in Illinois as follows: State Park camps: 20 National Forest camps: 4 Agricultural Engineering camps: 5 Soil Conservation Service camps: 20 It’s interesting to note that this Annual Report includes an error in the total average number of camps in Illinois by technical service. When you total the individual technical service totals you get a total of 49 camps but the total cited in the chart (Appendix H) lists 50 camps in Illinois. Which brings us back to the question of accuracy in the historic record, which may never be completely squared with reality three-quarters of a century after the fact. The 1937 Annual Report also includes a state-by-state list of specific projects accomplished and here are some totals for specific work projects accomplished in Illinois between July 1936 and June 1937. Vehicle bridges: 18 Foot bridges: 15 Horse bridges: 4 Stock bridges: 1 Lookout towers: 3 Trailside shelters: 11 Cabins: 16 Firebreaks: 93.5 miles Fire suppression: 23,779 man-days Emergency wildlife feeding: 2,394 man-days Bear in mind that this is just a snapshot of a single year’s accomplishments. Merrill notes that over the life of the lifetime of the program, the CCC was responsible for the following totals in Illinois alone: Bridges (all types): 394 Trails (all types): 1, 192 miles Trees planted: 32,938,000 It’s interesting to note that if we take the total number of bridges built during fiscal year 1937 (38) and multiply it by 9.5 (the approximate lifespan of the CCC) we get a total of 361 bridges built by the CCC in Illinois, which is pretty close to the total reported in Merrill (394). All told, Merrill estimates that some $36 million in allotments went to dependents of CCC enrollees in Illinois. In 1934 the American Forestry Association published a book entitled Youth Rebuilds: Stories From the C.C.C., which is a collection of personal narratives from CCC enrollees around the nation. Included in the collection is a piece entitled “A Task, A Plan and Freedom,” by James Kidwell, an enrollee in Company 1659 at Rushville, Illinois. Kidwell, who’d spent several years on the “bum” riding freight trains across the country in search of work, was recruited into the CCC by a social worker in Springfield, Illinois and he wrote, in part: My troubles are drowned by hard work. In forestry I have, for the first time, found a profession that appeals to me. So far as freedom is concerned, in what place could I hope to find more isolation from the cares that imprison civilization than in the endless solitudes of the forest? Larry Sypolt’s book Civilian Conservation Corps: A Selectively Annotated Bibliography includes references to source material related specifically to Illinois, including: “An Historical Study of the Civilian Conservation Corps in Illinois,” a Master’s thesis by Frank Mance while a student at Western Illinois University in 1967. Archeology is another field of work that the CCC was occasionally involved with in states across the nation and, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Illinois is an example of a state where CCC enrollees conducted archeological work. A set of articles in the September 2008 edition of Illinois Antiquity (Vol. 43 Issue 3) details some of the archeological work done by New Deal agencies in Illinois and while the WPA, the Illinois State Museum and the Illinois State Division of Parks performed the bulk of the excavation work, the CCC performed archeological excavations at three locations in Illinois: Abraham Lincoln’s New Salem State Park (Camp DSP-7), Lincoln Log Cabin State Park (Camp SP-58 or perhaps SCS-5) and Pere Marquette Sate Park (Camp SP-9). Reportedly, archeology work at New Salem and Lincoln Log Cabin State Parks was conducted for the most part by untrained CCC enrollees who simply documented the location and size of features. At Pere Marquette State Park a trained graduate student, with the assistance of CCC enrollee George Maynard, worked 12 weeks in the field to document and excavate prehistoric remains that were unearthed by CCC workers digging the foundation for a park lodge building. Sadly, according to the article in Illinois Antiquity, most of the artifacts have been misplaced in the years since they were unearthed in the 1930s. Reportedly, the only significant artifacts from the site are those uncovered during the initial discovery and excavation by the workers who were building the lodge structure. Not surprisingly, the same is true of the work at New Salem. In one of the articles that appeared in the September 2008 issue of Illinois Antiquity, Robert Mazrim noted that “very unfortunately, there is no evidence of any systematic attempt to record and retrieve artifacts during this period, and very few archaeological objects survive.” Mazrim goes on to describe the CCC’s archeological work at New Salem as “a mixed blessing,” because while the work reconstructed a 19th century village that was once home to future president Abraham Lincoln, the work obliterated much of the original town site and the artifacts that were collected have largely been lost or are not particularly useful because of sloppy documentation. (For my part, I don’t blame the CCC enrollees for these sorts of mistakes. The work of the CCC enrollees everywhere, no matter what the work, was only as good as the foremen and supervisors who were in charge of the project. If blame must be placed, let it fall at the feet of those where were in charge at the time.) For a list of Illinois CCC camps you can visit the CCC Legacy website, HERE. For the section of the U.S. Forest Service administrative history of the CCC that includes information on work in Illinois, click HERE. The April 20, 1935 issue of Happy Days reported on the death of Don Rutherford, an enrollee in Company 613, Marseilles, Illinois, killed while working in a “sand pit.” Just four months later, (August 10, 1935) Happy Days reported on the death of Guy Ellsworth Lagg, an enrollee in Company 639 at Camp Skokie Valley. Lagg was reportedly killed by lighting. The November 2, 1935 issue of Happy Days reported on the death of Mess Steward Cordell Gibson. Gibson, a member of Company 3676 at Lawrenceville, Illinois, was killed in a car crash. As always, the state CCC camp map was taken from a larger map in Cohen’s Tree Army. I simply isolated Illinois and highlighted the camp locations to make it easier to read. To get an idea of the plan and scope of the State-By-State series, read the initial post here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The C.C.C. State-By-State: Idaho

One need only glance at a CCC camp location map to realize Idaho had a lot of CCC camps and a lot of those CCC camps were Forest Service camps. The Annual Reports also bear this out. For example, Appendix C of The Annual Report of the Director of Emergency Conservation Work for fiscal year 1937 breaks down the average distribution of CCC camps by state and by technical service. Here’s the average for Idaho for FY1937:



National Forest camps: 33

State Forest camps: 5

Private Forest camps: 1

Soil Conservation camps: 5

State Park camps: 1

It should be noted that there is a discrepancy in this particular chart (Appendix C) in that the total number of camps listed for all services is 51 but the total number of camps in Idaho if you simply add up the totals for each service was 45. Likely this is due to the fact that the compiler or editor mistakenly listed the total number of Department of the Interior camps in Idaho as 7, when in fact the number should be just one (the sole State Park camp).


While we’re on the subject of camp types in Idaho, let’s look at the distribution of camps by service type for fiscal year 1939. Appendix H of The Annual Report of the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps for fiscal year 1939 breaks down Idaho’s CCC camp distribution like this:

National Forest camps: 30

State Forest camps: 3

Private Forest camps: 1

Soil Conservation camps: 4

Bureau of Reclamation camps: 4

State Park camps: 1

Division of Grazing camps: 10

In this case, the Annual Report seems to be without error, as the total number of camps listed for all services is 53, which matches the total listed individually.


Comparing the two years, we see that while the U.S. Forest Service and the state forest each lost camps, Idaho gained a total of 8 camps altogether, in large part due to the establishment of Bureau of Reclamation and Division of Grazing camps. And just what did Idaho gain from the CCC? Thankfully we’ve got Perry Merrill’s book Roosevelt’s Forest Army to turn to for some details, and the camp total seems to compare favorably with the available Annual Reports. Merrill notes that an average of 51 CCC camps operated in Idaho. The aggregate number of Idaho men who gained work as a result of the CCC was 28,074, which included 20,292 junior and veteran enrollees, 1,038 Indian and 6,744 non-enrolled personnel. Merrill also points out that 86,775 individuals from all states worked in Idaho between 1933 and 1942. This means of course that many of the CCC enrollees who worked in Idaho were brought in from other states.


Merrill’s list of work accomplishments indicates the CCC built 236 lookout houses and towers, 91 impounding and large diversion dams and that they strung just over 3,000 miles of telephone lines.


Let’s take a closer look at individual work accomplishments listed in the 1939 Annual Report. The list shows that, among other things, the CCC was responsible for the following improvements in Idaho during fiscal year 1939:

Vehicle bridges: 31

Garages: 10

Latrines and Toilets: 47

Lookout houses and towers: 18

Camp stoves and fireplaces: 68

Cattle guards: 202

And the report shows that from mid 1938 to mid 1939, the CCC spent an astonishing 20,286 man-days fighting forest fires in Idaho!


Comparing just one improvement type – construction of cattle guards – between 1937 and 1939, we might get a snapshot of what it meant to have an increase in the number of Division of Grazing camps between these two reporting periods. In fiscal year 1937 when there were no Division of Grazing camps operating in Idaho, the Annual Report shows that 30 cattle guards were constructed in the state. Two years later, with 10 Division of Grazing camps now operational, the number jumps to 202. (There was also an increase in the number of corrals constructed, with 7 corrals built by the CCC in 1937 compared to 11 corrals built in 1939.) Admittedly, these figures represent a tiny fraction of the statewide work done but comparing them from year to year helps us understand what it meant to have particular technical services working in a state. Fewer Division of Grazing camps in Idaho meant fewer cattle guards and corrals built in Idaho.


Comparisons like this are less useful in sizing up the number of man-days spent fighting forest fires. Recall that in the 1938-1939 reporting period, the CCC spent 20,286 man-days fighting forest fires in Idaho. Two years earlier, during the period 1936-1937, the CCC spent more time (26,020 man-days) fighting fires. This might be due to the fact that there were more forestry-related CCC camps in the state during the 1936-37 time frame (five more forestry camps operated in Idaho in FY1937 than in FY1939) but it might also be due to the fact that there were fewer fires to fight one year versus the other, or that crews were better trained two years later and thus fires were brought under control more quickly. What seems clear now is that over the lifetime of the CCC, the United States saw a steady decline in the numbers of acres lost to wildland fire, but that is a topic for another time.


The Federal Security Agency Annual Report of the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps for Fiscal Year 1942 includes some interesting and detailed summaries of CCC work projects that are often overlooked by current historians. The report includes a section entitled “CCC Camps and the Bureau of Animal Industry.” Turns out there were six Bureau of Animal Industry CCC camps scattered across the United States and one of them was located in Dubois, Idaho. The report explains that the Animal Industry stations were research facilities established for the purpose of finding better breeding, feeding and management practices for domestic farm animals and poultry. Referring specifically to the station at Dubois, Idaho, the report goes on to state:

"The CCC camps happened to come when the unusual assistance which they could give was sorely needed at several stations. For example, at Dubois, Idaho, a Bankhead-Jones Special Research project had just been added to this Bureau’s regular appropriation for sheep research. This made necessary a two to three-fold expansion in the research facilities at that station. This meant the opening up of additional land, construction of roads and trails, major extensions of the water and sewerage systems, and extensive landscaping around new laboratory buildings and dwellings. Not without such a unit as a CCC camp, bringing its special equipment and its own housing could it have been possible to equip this plant for the enlarged program so quickly with such small cost to the Government, or so smoothly and well."


You can access an online listing of Idaho’s CCC camps here. (The list is taken from the camp list at the CCC Legacy website.) You’ll note that the Bureau of Animal Industry camps were designated by the letter “A.”


The 1942 Annual Report also includes mention of Idaho CCC enrollees hired by lumber producers: “Sixty-eight CCC boys were hired from one camp in Idaho by a Boise company in four months and this company had over 500 former CCC’s on their payrolls at Pacific Island bases where the Japanese started hostilities in December 1941.”

In 1934 the American Forestry Association published a small book entitled Youth Rebuilds: Stories from the C.C.C. The book is a collection of personal narratives written by CCC enrollees across the United States and it includes a story entitled “The Next Ridge to the West,” written by Henry F. Vicinus, an enrollee in Company 1276 at Camp F-48, Clarkia, Idaho. In his life before the CCC, Vicinus was a newspaper reporter and his narrative is especially well written. Here are some excerpts from Vicinus’s story.
Vicinus wrote of his struggles before enrolling:

"Winter came and was little better. The old tuxedo was the first thing to be sold; then the wardrobe trunk, then the camera, all at ten per cent of their value, and finally – my God, what a blow! – the old typewriter. I was no longer a reporter! When “Bel” Hildreth hunted me up to tell me the local CCC quota of men was leaving the next day, he found me on a farm, with my last ragged clothing on my back, and that back nearly broken."

Concerning his time in a conditioning camp, Vicinus recalled:

"Camp Dix was a grand scramble. There was kidding, there was bullying, and each man developed his own little defense to it – some by excelling in the art of kidding and bullying, some by evading it with snappy comebacks, some by going “over the hill.” Never will I forget my nervousness when I first walked up to the orderly tent and suggested myself as a clerk. Nor will I forget the home-coming feeling I had when I first sat down to that little three-bank Underwood and started making rosters. There was something to work at, to occupy my mind, and to do well, looking forward to advancement… Neither will I forget the tense expectancy at the prospect of leaving…once we got the orders to leave for Idaho."

Finally, of his enrollment period in the mountains of Idaho, Vicinus wrote:

"There is, too, something purgative and expansive about the West. One only need stand by a huge tamarack or white pine, look over the valley below him, and gaze miles and miles away where the hazy mountains rise and fall like the waves of a giant ocean….to feel it…And now…it is time to go back to the old surroundings. I shall return not exactly as I left. I have conquered one world. Why should I cower from another?"


To read a section of the online history The Forest Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps that deals with the 9th Corps area and work in Idaho, click here.


Larry Sypolt’s very useful book Civilian Conservation Corps: A Selectively Annotated Bibliography includes references to materials dealing specifically with the CCC in Idaho. In the section on the 9th Corps Area (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Nevada, California and Yellowstone National Park) you’ll see the following source materials listed:

“The CCC in Idaho,” by Judith Austin, Idaho Yesterdays 27 (Fall 1983).


“I’d do it again in a minute!” The Civilian Conservation Corps on the Salmon National Forest, by Michael Crosby, Salmon Idaho, 1997.


Outdoor Idaho. CCC in Idaho. Documentary film by Pat Metzler and Bruce Reichert, 1999.



The work of the CCC in Idaho was not without tragedy. The ruggedness of the country, the frequency of forest fires and the impetuousness of youth thrown together far from home, conspired to take the lives of enrollees in a variety of ways. The April 7, 1935 Edition of the Spokesman-Review reported the death of 25-year old Fred Hunter, an enrollee from Company 245, Chatcolet, Idaho. Hunter died of injuries received “when his motorcycle collided with the concrete rail of the overhead bridge near Lapwai…He was badly crushed.”


The Spokesman-Review also reported on the death of Oscar Kee, an enrollee at the Avery, Idaho CCC camp. 31-year-old Kee was run over and killed by a tractor in March 1935.


There were also instances of boyish exuberance leading to injury, as was reported in a June 1935 issue of the Spokesman-Review. Under the headline, “Bruiser in CCC Tucked in Jail,” the article states:

"Six months is sentence given youth who broke boy’s rib in “initiation.” Cortland Rockwell, 19, was given six months in jail here today by Probate Judge M.G. Whitney, on a charge of battery that developed from an “initiation” at the Ludlow creek CCC camp yesterday. Frank Falk, a rookie being initiated, suffered a broken rib and landed in the Fort George Wright hospital at Spokane when the rough play of the enrollees turned into something more than “monkey business.” He resisted and was set upon by the ringleaders of the “degree team,” bossed by Rockwell, it was said. John Machan, 18, held in the Kootenai county jail here overnight, with Rockwell, as a witness, was released after the trial, but Cecil Sowards, 18, also jailed as a witness yesterday, was held for further investigation."


Finally, the August 24, 1935 issue of the CCC newspaper Happy Days reported on the death of 19-year old Creath Cupp of Huntington, West Virginia, who was killed in a truck accident near Wallace, Idaho. Happy Days reported that Cupp was from Company 565. A photo of the accident site appeared in the Spokane-Review with the following caption: "One man was killed and more than a dozen were injured when the CCC truck shown here drove down a hillside on the Dobson Pass highway near Wallace early Sunday morning, while it was conveying a group of 24 CCC workers back to camp F-150 at Hawk Ranger station from their Sunday holiday in Wallace. The dead man was Creath Cupp, 19 of Huntington, W. Va. Excessive speed on the sharp turn is blamed for the tragedy."

Monday, March 21, 2011

The C.C.C. State-BY-State: Georgia

Georgia was situated in the 4th Corps area along with North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. The 4th Corps area was commanded by Major General George Van Horn Moseley, who wrote of the CCC: “Though I feel that all of the participating Federal departments – Agriculture, Interior, Labor, and War – have done a fine job, the credit for the wonderful reputation achieved by the Civilian Conservation Corps must go primarily to the lads themselves. I have never seen a finer group of young men. They have met their part of the bargain just one hundred percent, and they have reaped a just reward.” (Moseley's comments appeared as a preface to a 1935 District "E" Annual. It should be noted that Moseley's high opinion of CCC enrollees may not have extended to all enrollees. Salmond refers to him as a "quasi-fascist" and by inference we can assume he may not have been highly in favor of the recruitment of black enrollees into the CCC.)

The Federal Security Agency Annual Report of the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps for fiscal year 1942 includes the following detailed reference to CCC work in Georgia on page 48 under the heading Southern Region – Atlanta, Georgia. The entry states:
“Largely through the fire control improvements and facilities constructed by the CCC, it has been possible for the State Foresters in the Southern Region to provide fire control for millions of acres of privately owned timber lands that otherwise would have continued to suffer severe damage annually. At the beginning of the CCC program in 1933 there were about 47 million acres in the South receiving fire protection. By January 1, 1942, this had increased to 75 million acres.”

No doubt, Georgia garnered its share of important forest protection improvements in the southern United States as well as other valuable work by the creation of the CCC in 1933. Perry Merrill breaks out some of the work totals in his book Roosevelt’s Forest Army. For example, in Georgia, between 1933 and 1942, the CCC strung 3,638 miles of telephone lines, build 425,829 check dams and erosion control features, planted over 22 million trees and spent over 153,000 man-days fighting forest fires. Dependents living in Georgia received over $19 million in allotments from enrollees during that time!

As for the aforementioned forest protection work, the CCC erected 500-watt radio transmitters at two sites to improve communication between fire towers and fire crews. Additionally, the CCC built facilities at Timber Protective Organization sites established as part of a state program.

Merrill notes that the average number of CCC camps to operate in Georgia was 35 and we can compare this average against camp totals for 1937 and 1939. According to the 1937 Annual Report of the Director of Emergency Conservation Work, in fiscal year 1937 a total of 40 CCC camps operated in Georgia, distributed as follows:
National Forest camps: 9
Private Forest camps: 10
Soil Conservation camps: 9
National Monument camps: 2
State Park camps: 6
Military Reservation camps: 4
In fiscal year 1939 the Annual Report of the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps reports that a total of just 27 CCC camps operated in Georgia, distributed as follows:
National Park camps: 3
State Park camps: 4
National Forest camps: 5
Private Forest camps: 5
Biological Survey camps: 1
Soil Conservation camps: 9
(It’s interesting to note that between 1937 and 1939 the title of the annual report changed to reflect the program’s change from being called Emergency Conservation Work to Civilian Conservation Corps.)

As for enrollment, the Annual Reports also list enrollment totals for 1937 and 1939 that provide a snapshot look at CCC enrollment in Georgia. Georgia’s monthly enrollment totals for fiscal year 1937 stack up like this:
July 1936: 12,299
August 1936: 11,605
September 1936: 9,941
October 1936: 12,350
November 1936: 11,706
December 1936: 11,150
January 1937: 12,125
February 1937: 11,675
March 1937: 9,752
April 1937: 10, 593
May 1937: 10, 182
June 1937: 9, 503

The Annual Report for fiscal year 1939 shows a noticeable drop in monthly enrollment in the state of Georgia:
July 1938: 9,250
August 1938: 8,906
September 1938: 8,013
October 1938: 9,179
November 1938: 8,942
December 1938: 8,540
January 1939: 9,060
February 1939: 8,773
March 1939: 5,684
April 1939: 8,949
May 1939: 8,693
June 1939: 7,958

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has a terrific page that lists CCC-built structures in the State Parks that you can still enjoy today. Click here to see the list.

There is a short paper on the history of the CCC in Georgia posted at the website of the Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy. Written by Betty van Dongeren in 2007, the paper seems to deal more with the overall history of the CCC with a few references to work in Georgia, but it includes a list of sources and some photos. You can view the paper as a pdf document here.

Racism in the CCC was not a problem solely in the southern United States, however in the South where Jim Crow laws held sway for decades even after the end of the CCC, the issue of race in the CCC is particularly powerful. John Salmond’s seminal work on the CCC, an online copy of which you can read here, includes a chapter titled “The Selection of Negroes.” Salmond makes particular reference to Georgia in the third paragraph of this chapter, writing: “Scarcely had selection [of CCC enrollees] begun, however, when reports from the South indicated that in that desperately poor region local selection agents were deliberately excluding Negroes from all CCC activities. Particularly deplorable were events in Georgia, which had a Negro population of 1,071,125 in 1930, or 36 per cent of the total state population. On May 2, 1933, an Atlanta resident, W.H. Harris, protested to the secretary of labor that in Clarke County, Georgia, with a 60 per cent Negro population, no non-whites had yet been selected for CCC work. Persons, director of CCC selection, immediately demanded an explanation from the Georgia state director of selection, John de la Perriere. The Georgia director blandly replied that all applications for CCC enrolment in Clarke County were “classed A, B and C. All colored applications fell into the classes B and C. The A class being the most needy, the selections were made from same.”

Despite further complaints from local groups, like the Atlanta branch of the National Urban League, officials in Washington preferred to remain outside the fray, with the hope that the situation would adjust itself, “without any apparent intervention from Washington.” But as it turned out, such a hands-off approach was not going to work over the long run and Director of CCC Selection Persons again followed up with the director of CCC selections in Georgia (John de la Perriere), this time by telephone. De la Perriere ultimately admitted that blacks were not being selected but denied it was on account of racism but rather, de la Perriere said that, “at this time of the farming period in the State, it is vitally important that negroes remain in the counties for chopping cotton and for planting other produce.” Persons knew better simply by looking at Georgia’s population statistics compared to enrollment of blacks in the CCC. Eventually it took a call to the governor of Georgia and a threat to withhold Georgia’s entire CCC enrollment quota to improve the situation; although one could easily argue that the issue of black CCC enrollment in the South was never fully resolved given that blacks were never represented in the CCC in numbers equal to their percentage of the population.

Ultimately, the experience of black enrollees in Georgia and nationwide, must be viewed through the prism of history and judged today as a series of small success that came about despite an overarching attitude of prejudice at the time. While the documentation records scores of vile episodes where blacks were denied the same opportunities in the CCC as their white counterparts, the record also reflects that local communities, in Georgia and nationwide, frequently embraced the all-black CCC companies that moved into their neighborhoods and often fought to keep them. For a longer, more detailed discussion of the African-American experience in the CCC, see the recent post over at Forest Army.

Larry N. Sypolt’s book Civilian Conservation Corps: A Selectively Annotated Bibliography includes a number of listings for material dealing with the work of the CCC in Georgia, including the following items:

“The New Deal and Georgia’s Black Youth,” by Michael S. Holmes in the Journal of Southern History 38 (August 1972), pages 443-460.

“The Civilian Conservation Corps and the State Park: An Approach to the Management of the Designed Historic Landscape Resources at Franklin D Roosevelt State Park, Pine Mountain Georgia,” a 1992 University of Georgia Master’s thesis by Lucy Ann Lawliss.

Mountaineers and Rangers: A History of the Federal Forest Management in the Southern Appalachians, 1900-81, by Shelley Smith Mastran, published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Washington, DC, 1971.

NAACP Legal File: Cases Supported, CCC Boys, 1938-1939, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Frederick, MD, University Publications of America, 1988. This particular resource deals with the NAACP’s involvement in the cases of three Black CCC enrollees charged with murder in Georgia.

To view a collection of photos related to the work of the CCC in Georgia, visit Vanishing Georgia, the Digital Library of Georgia. Once there, type in “Civilian Conservation Corps” in the search box and be amazed at what you find.

For an interesting page on Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park and the location of its CCC camp remnants, visit Waymarking.com. While you’re there, open the entire folder of waymarked CCC sites and you’ll marvel at the nearly 200 sites listed (to date). While we’re at it, here’s a link to the waymarking page for a CCC built bridge at Indian Springs State Park, Georgia. This website is particularly interesting and useful if you’re looking for CCC work in your region or neighborhood.


The December 16, 1933 issue of Happy Days reported the death of enrollee Alton Thrasher of Company 456, Robertstown, Georgia, in an automobile accident. The January 19, 1935 issue of Happy Days reported the death of Bill Bruner of Company 1414. Bruner was reportedly killed in a diving accident.
Sources: As with all the State-By-State posts, the map was taken from Stan Cohen's Tree Army. I highlighted the camp locations with colored dots for easier reference. The photo is of the Company 446 baseball team at camp D-92-G, Brunswick, Georgia and it also comes from the Cohen book. The Happy Days newspaper masthead was scanned from an original copy in my collection.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The C.C.C. State-By-State: A Progress Update

One-Fifth of the Way There
With last week’s posting of the Florida entry in the State-By-State series, we’re roughly 1/5th of the way through the U.S. states and territories. Now might be a good time for me to catch my breath, perhaps update the stated goals and purpose of the series and this may be a good opportunity to point out some changes that have already been made to the individual state entries already posted.

Statistics, Personal Narratives and Illustrations
Initially, I’d made it clear that I planned to rely heavily on the individual summaries of state CCC work found in Perry Merrill’s book Roosevelt’s Forest Army and I’ve done so. However as the postings have progressed, I’ve found that three Annual Reports in my collection are serving as a very useful set of source materials to supplement Merrill’s snapshot of state work. This has had the effect of making the posts a bit heavy on numerical statistics and lighter on individual camp accomplishments, which may not be a benefit to the casual reader, however I’m hoping that the more detailed camp totals, work statistics and enrollment numbers represent data that is largely unavailable to local researchers – especially to high school and undergraduate students – who may be seeking obscure statistical data for papers, reports or presentations. The sort of information that may be boring to most readers will be a boon to the occasional scholar who seeks to include such details in their work. As an extension of this, if you are a scholar who is doing research and you’d like to have scanned images from the Annual Reports that I cite in the State-By-State series, post a comment and let me know how to reach you and I’ll gladly do what I can to get the information to you. (I wouldn’t have called this a “resource” page if I hadn’t intended to share useful – if sometimes mundane – information.)

Another benefit to using numbers from the Annual Reports as companion data for the project information in Roosevelt’s Forest Army has been the ability to compare Merrill’s “snapshot” of CCC work against the “snapshot” of work shown in the annual reports for 1937, 1939 and to a lesser degree, 1942. The comparisons aren’t meant to validate or discredit Merrill’s numbers, but more to show trends in the program between 1933 and 1942. Merrill’s state work summaries typically list an average number of camps in a state, where the Annual Reports for 1937 and 1939 provide a more detailed breakdown of the camp totals for their respective fiscal year. An average is useful, but I hope that researchers will find it’s also useful to know if the totals for 1937 and 1939 are above or below the average cited by Merrill.

To offset some of the heavily statistical information in the individual posts, I’m working to include personal histories of CCC enrollees whenever possible, and will go back to add those personal histories to the state’s already posted when necessary. One great source of these personal narratives has been the book Youth Rebuilds, which was published in 1934. I’m also throwing in data on selected cases of CCC fatalities in each state as they become available.

Something else that I’ve found as I’ve worked through the first 10 state articles is that photographs aren’t always easily accessible or those photos that may be available are covered in copyright restrictions. I’m not in the habit of pirating images from other sites, so more than likely you’ll find that I include links to sites that have useful or interesting photos of CCC work in particular states, rather than lifting the images from those sites for use here at the CCC Resource Page. Ultimately, visitors here will have to choose whether or not they choose to use images found on linked sites. This issue has become more important to me lately, as I’ve seen some of my own work and images used on other sites without a proper citation (to say nothing of the fact that the user took the material without asking first). With this in mind, visitors here need to keep me honest, too. If you see images or references not properly cited or credited here at the CCC Resource Page, please post a comment explaining the problem so that I can remedy the situation.

Updates to Past Posts
Since starting the State-By-State series at the first of the year, I’ve revised just two entries: Alabama and Arkansas. The Alabama entry was updated to include more information regarding Robert Pasquill’s book The Civilian Conservation Corps in Alabama – specifically its lack of detailed references to racism in the CCC. The Arkansas entry was updated to include a better explanation of monthly enrollment figures. Additionally, I added a brief discussion of racism in the selection and deployment of black enrollees in Arkansas. In both cases, the new information on racism grew out of a post I did in honor of Black History Month over at the Forest Army blog.

To date, roughly two and a half months into this project, I’ve not had any comments posted regarding the State-By-State series, however it seems that visitor hits are higher lately on average. Please, if you enjoy something you see here, if something was especially helpful to you in your research, if you have questions or need greater detail, or if you wish to offer constructive criticism, please leave a comment and if you need more information, make sure there’s some way I can contact you. My goal with this blog is to create a resource for CCC researchers of all ages, to help grade schoolers, high schoolers and college scholars in their search for information on the Civilian Conservation Corps.



Monday, March 7, 2011

The C.C.C. State-by-State: Florida

In Roosevelt’s Forest Army, Perry Merrill notes that an average of 21 CCC camps operated in the state of Florida with an average distribution among the technical services as follows: 7 National Forest camps, 9 Private Forest camps, 1 Animal Industry camp, 1 Biological Survey camp and 5 State Park camps. Merrill also notes that just under 50,000 Florida men were given employment by the CCC including 45,887 junior and veteran enrollees, 101 Indians and 3,026 so-called non-enrolled personnel which included camp officers and supervisors.

We can compare Merrill’s overall average to numbers cited in a couple of Annual Reports to get an idea of how the camp distributions ebbed and flowed between 1933 and 1942. For example, the Annual Report of the Director of Emergency Conservation Work for fiscal year 1937 lists a total of 23 CCC camps in the state of Florida, broken out as follows:
National Forest: 7
Private Forest: 9
Animal Industry: 1
Biological Survey: 1
State Park: 5
So during fiscal year 1937 the number of CCC camps in Florida was slightly above the overall average of 21 cited in Merrill’s Roosevelt’s Forest Army.

Compare this to the distribution of 16 total Florida CCC camps as reported in the 1939 Annual Report of the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps:
State Park: 7
National Forest: 4
Private Forest: 4
Biological Survey: 1
So for FY 1939 Florida was below the average as reported in Merrill’s overall camp total. You’ll also note that the “animal industry” camp was disbanded some time in the intervening years and that work on private forest projects decreased. (It’s also interesting to see that the title of the Annual Report was changed to reflect the program’s name change from Emergency Conservation Work to Civilian Conservation Corps.)

So what exactly was the work of the CCC enrollees at Florida’s seemingly short lived animal industry camp? The Federal Security Agency’s Annual Report of the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps for 1942 offers some insight into this type of CCC camp. According to the report, CCC camps were established at Bureau of Animal Industry sites located in Auburn, Alabama, Dubois, Idaho, Jeanerette, Louisiana, Beltsville, Maryland, Miles City, Montana and in Brooksville, Florida. The report describes the work of these camps in some detail:
These stations are research stations devoted to finding better practices in breeding, feeding, and management of domestic farm animals or poultry, and in disease prevention and control. All but one of these stations are located on tracts of land given to this bureau for experimental use. In all cases the land, buildings, and other facilities had to be adapted or newly planned for the best advantage of the research work. This is a costly process in cases of major field stations, and the temptation always has been to begin the livestock research work to which the station was dedicated before adequate or ideal plant facilities became available…The CCC camps happened to come when the unusual assistance which they could give was sorely needed at several stations…In short, through the unusual and able assistance of CCC camps at several of the major field stations, the Bureau of Animal Industry now has field stations better equipped for the research at hand, and therefore better able to give a good account of the money appropriated to it for livestock research work.

In the case of the Brooksville, Florida research station, the land for the facility was donated in 1932, prior to the establishment of the CCC, and according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture news story, the facility now covers about 3,000 acres and employs 20 full time state and federal employees. Given this explanation, it seems likely that CCC enrollees helped with setting up the facilities at the experimental station and once the site was up and running, Florida’s animal industry camp was no longer necessary; consequently we see the animal industry camp listed in the 1937 Annual Report but missing from the 1939 report.

Using the fiscal year 1939 Annual Report for monthly enrollment, the figures break out like this:
July 1938: 4,986
August 1938: 4,845
September 1938: 4,057
October 1938: 4,789
November 1938: 4,599
December 1938: 4,149
January 1939: 4,660
February 1939: 4,487
March 1939: 3,029
April 1939: 4,548
May 1939: 4,377
June 1939: 3,922
These are the monthly totals for enrollment in the state of Florida – not the total number of CCC workers working in the state each month.

The same Annual Report (FY1939) lists individual totals for work accomplished and in that listing we find that between July 1938 and June 1939, CCC enrollees in Florida installed over 222,000 square yards of stream and lake bank protection on one hand but only built six camp stoves or fireplaces. Other work completed within this wide range of accomplishments included:
Open ditches: 10,100 linear feet
Fighting forest fires: 6,754 man days
Educational, guide or contact station work: 2,312 man days
Excavation of earthen channels, canals and ditches: 62,618 cubic yards
Beach improvement: 6 miles

The Florida Park Service Alumni Association has a nice page dedicated to documenting CCC park staff. It’s a work in progress but clearly their dedication to the project shines through.

The Friends of Florida State Parks has a wonderful page devoted to the CCC on their website. Here, among other things, you’ll learn that the first CCC camp in Florida’s state park system was established at Highlands Hammock State Park in 1934.

Many folks, including me for a time, labor under the misconception that the World War I veterans killed in the 1935 hurricane were CCC enrollees when in fact they were assigned to several Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) camps in the Keys. (For an example, click here. I’m sure the author’s intentions are good in this case, but the article erroneously states that those killed in the Florida hurricane were CCC enrollees and that Robert Fechner was head of the CCC over the course of its entire lifespan, neither of which was the case.) Certainly the fact that the World War I veterans were FERA workers and not CCC enrollees doesn’t diminish the tragedy in any way and indeed there is a connection in that CCC enrollees helped with clean up and recovery of bodies in the days and weeks following the horrific tragedy. If anything, this long-standing misconception is simply a good illustration of how so many of the New Deal programs have gotten lumped together over time and it may support the claims of some who say the CCC garners some praise that should rightly go to agencies like FERA and the WPA. For a great, accurate account of the Bonus Army and the veteran’s FERA camps that grew out of that episode, read The Bonus Army: An American Epic by Dickson and Allen.

I’ll close out this account of CCC work in Florida with a mention of some CCC enrollees who did die while working in Florida. The December 3, 1933 issue of the CCC newspaper Happy Days reported that enrollee Michael G. Kovich of Company 295, Sumatra, Florida was shot in a nearby town. Kovich’s death is among the first 20 deaths reported in Happy Days during the lifespan of the CCC.

On May 19, 1934, Happy Days reported the suicide of an enrollee by the last name of Fraser at the District G Headquarters in Barrancas, Florida.

September 15, 1934 issue of Happy Days reported on the drowning death of Albert Oliva of Company 262 at Sebring, Florida.

Finally, jumping ahead in time, the January 13, 1940 issue of Happy Days reported on the death of James Devoe from Company 4453 at Deleon Springs, Florida. Enrollee Devoe was killed in an auto accident while on leave.

When we think back on the CCC and consider it’s broad scope and far reaching impact and the numbers of men associated with its work, it’s a small wonder than more enrollees weren’t killed in those years between 1933 and 1942.
Sources: As with all the posts in the State-By-State series the map is from Stan Cohen's book The Tree Army. The campstove plan is from a 1930s book on construction of camp stoves. I'm also indebted to Bob Audretsch for his indexing of the Happy Days newspaper.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The C.C.C State-by-State: District of Columbia

In my introductory post for this series I noted that I planned to rely heavily on Perry Merrill’s summary of benefits to the states in his book Roosevelt’s Forest Army and I’m sticking to that plan, especially in the case of CCC work in the District of Columbia, which is difficult to research on a good day.

For all of its seeming geographic insignificance, the District of Columbia (“DC”) was worthy of two CCC camps according to Merrill and an astounding 11,470 DC men were given employment as a result of the CCC (to say nothing of the many, many politicians who managed to keep getting reelected to at least some degree because of their votes in favor of funding the CCC). A partial statistical breakdown of CCC accomplishments in DC include construction of 20 bridges, 47 camp stoves and fireplaces, 94 table and bench combinations and over 76,000 linear feet of pipe, tile lines and conduit for flood control.

As was already mentioned, specific information regarding the work of the CCC in the District of Columbia is difficult to come by. The CCC Legacy Camp List does not include the District of Columbia, or Alaska or Hawaii. The list does indicate that DC was located in the Third Corps area along with Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.

Merrill refers to two specific CCC work projects in DC: the National Arboretum and Rock Creek Park. At the moment the website for the National Arboretum contains just one passing reference to the CCC, in an article about botanist Oliver Freeman. (You can see that article here.) There is a reference to the National Arboretum in Chapter 5 of the National Park Service Administrative History of the CCC. It seems that a company of black enrollees was selected to march in President Roosevelt’s 1937 inaugural parade. As for Rock Creek Park, you’ll find an all too brief reference to the CCC in the Administrative History of Rock Creek Park. Indeed, it’s brief enough that I’ll quote it at length here:
A Civilian Conservation Corps contingent then occupied the site (Camp Good Will), designated Camp NP-14, Rock Creek Park. Before and during its use of the area, the CCC performed a range of improvements in the park and Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway. Its enrollees cleared the creek channel and stabilized its banks with riprap, planted trees and shrubs, built more than two miles of bridle path with log hurdles for jumping, and constructed an addition to the Park Police lodge, which had been built with a $13,500 public works allotment on Beach Drive below Joyce Road in 1936.

Believe it or not, the Annual Reports do list enrollment figures for the District of Columbia, so given a lack of other detailed information on the work of the CCC in Washington, D.C., I’ll post the monthly enrollment figures for 1937 and 1939.

The 1937 Annual Report of the Director of Emergency Conservation Work listed the monthly enrollee totals for the District of Columbia for fiscal year 1937 as follows:
July 1936: 845
August 1936: 755
September 1936: 656
October 1936: 850
November 1936: 811
December 1936: 753
January 1937: 1,008
February 1937: 908
March 1937: 680
April 1937: 856
May 1937: 776
June 1937: 704
Average: 800/month

Two years later the numbers aren’t vastly different. The 1939 Annual Report of the Director the Civilian Conservation Corps listed the total number of CCC enrollees who enrolled in the CCC from the District of Columbia as:
July 1938: 822
August 1938: 778
September 1938: 700
October 1938: 858
November 1938: 804
December 1938: 735
January 1939: 916
February 1939: 892
March 1939: 645
April 1939: 853
May 1939: 809
June 1939: 661
Average: 789/month

So, in fiscal year 1937, an average of 800 CCC enrollees hailed from the District of Columbia on a month-to-month basis. In fiscal year 1939 that monthly average slipped slightly to 789 enrollees per month, and for some reason January was the enrollment high water mark both years. I’ve noted elsewhere in this series that CCC enrollment figures ebbed and flowed in response to a number of factors; for example in areas where annual crops were gathered, it is often found that local enrollment in CCC camps dropped off right about the time that workers were needed to bring in that year’s harvest. It’s intriguing to consider why enrollment in Washington D.C. suddenly spiked in January of 1937 and 1939.

Certainly, the National Arboretum seems to have been the primary CCC work site (the camp was designated NA-1) in the District of Columbia and you’ll find a complimentary few paragraphs are devoted to that work in the 1942 Annual Report of the Civilian Conservation Corps (fiscal year 1942). Here are the details from that report in a section titled Plant Industry and the CCC:
Two CCC camps were assigned to the Bureau of Plant Industry. One of these, within the District of Columbia, since 1934, has been doing preliminary improvement and construction work for a national arboretum. The other at Cheyenne, Wyoming, started in 1935, has been working at a federal horticultural field station.

The national Arboretum is located in Northeast Washington just off the Bladensburg Road. The CCC company did a large amount of permanent work, all essential to the main purpose of the Arboretum. This camp came to the Arboretum in 1934 and was closed on December 15, 1941.

Much of the Arboretum land is in an early stage of development, and the camp contributed very substantially in this basic development work. Construction of roads, drainage, water systems, and fencing have been of primary importance. The fencing of the entire tract of some 400 acres with strong, high and permanent wire fence, with concrete curbing, was one of the outstanding CCC jobs. Five pithouses and a combination heating plant and potting shed were constructed by CCC labor. Important landscape projects have been the construction of three ponds and extensive grading in certain areas. Much soil perperation (sic) and planting of trees and shrubs was done. At this particular stage in the development of the National Arboretum the CCC work was decidedly a major contribution.

Given the glowing summary of the CCC’s work at the National Arboretum, it seems a bit sad that their current website doesn’t include any history on camp NA-1. Perhaps as we approach the 80th anniversary of the creation of the CCC in 2013, the folks at the National Arboretum will discover some of their own history and share it with the rest of us.

(Perhaps it is a commentary on the lack of available information on the work of the CCC in D.C. that there are no maps or photos of CCC work there that I have been able to track down. I’m sure they are out there somewhere.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

The C.C.C. State-By-State: Delaware

The state of Delaware was situated in the 2nd Corps area along with New Jersey and New York. In Roosevelt’s Forest Army, hidden about halfway through his rundown of CCC work in Delaware, Perry Merrill tosses out a unique factoid that sets Delaware apart from all other states and territories. Basically, Merrill notes that Delaware was the last state to get CCC camps. Evidently, the purchase of just over 1,000 acres for the Redden State Forest cleared the way for establishment of CCC camps so the first Delaware camp wasn’t established until October 1933 during the second enrollment period. That first camp, Camp S-53-D was quickly occupied by Company 2233V, company of World War I veterans who were moved from a project in nearby Vermont. So, while the total available information about the CCC in Delaware may be limited, there will always be that one interesting statistic: Delaware was the last state to have CCC camps.

(Now, here’s a question to ponder. It has long been thought that CCC camps were numbered in the order that they were established within each state. Thus, the first camp to be established in Delaware would be S-1-D, or so one would assume. Why was Delaware’s first camp numbered “53”? I’ve no idea but thought it would be an interesting question to toss out there.)

The State of Delaware has a scanned image of typewritten song lyrics penned by an enrollee at a CCC camp in Lewes, Delaware. The website notes that Delaware’s CCC camps were located in Lewes, Magnolia, Leipsic, Georgetown, Slaughter Beach, Frederica and Wyoming and that one of the main projects of the CCC was construction of drainage ditches for mosquito control.

There is one blog entry about the CCC at the State of Delaware’s blog site and you can view it here. It’s a neat little piece about mosquito control.

Merrill notes that the maximum number of CCC camps to operate in Delaware was 8 and that all but one (the aforementioned Camp S-53-D) were soil conservation and mosquito control camps. Even for its small size, an average of 5,382 Delaware men were given employment because of the CCC.

If we compare Merrill’s camp total against the Annual Reports for fiscal years 1937 and 1939 we find that between July 1936 and June 1937 Delaware had 1 state forest camp, 4 mosquito control camps, 2 agricultural engineering camps and 1 military reservation camp for a total of 8 camps. For the same period between 1938 and 1939 Delaware only had 4 CCC camps, broken out as follows: 1 state forest camp, 1 biological survey camp, and 2 agricultural engineering camps.

Delaware’s overall specific project totals (cited in Merrill’s Forest Army) include:
Trees Planted: 274,000
Channel Cleaning/Flood Control: 12,682,774 square yards
Forest Stand Improvement: 692 acres
Mosquito Control: 52,874 acres

In the state forests of Delaware, CCC enrollees worked at establishing forest boundaries through surveying and marking, construction of truck trails, timber salvage, collection of seedlings, reducing fire hazards and reforestation. A section of forest called the Red Lion Tract was donated to the state of Delaware in 1930, but it wasn’t until the arrival of the CCC that work was begun to reforest the acreage with loblolly pine, shortleaf pine and Scotch pine.

The Annual Report of the Director of Emergency Conservation Work for fiscal year 1937 lists the monthly totals for enrollment in Delaware as follows:
July 1936: 485
August 1936: 437
September 1936: 336
October 1936: 405
November 1936: 387
December 1936: 369
January 1937: 421
February 1937: 408
March 1937: 319
April 1937: 334
May 1937: 285
June 1937: 254
These monthly totals reflect the number of young men who enrolled in the state of Delaware, not the total number of CCC boys working in the state of Deleware.

If we drill down a bit deeper into the state-by-state numbers in the 1937 Annual Report we’ll find that Delaware gained the following improvements between July of 1936 and June of 1937:
Vehicle bridges: 2
Sewer lines: 1,183 linear feet
Field planting/seeding: 33 acres
Fire hazard reduction (“Road & Trailside”): 6.7 miles
Fire hazard reduction (“Other”): 293.0 Acres
Mosquito control: 7,234 man days

The CCC Legacy maintains a camp listing and the entry for Delaware is reasonably short. The CCC Legacy list shows the following companies operated in Delaware on the dates indicated:
Co. 1224, November 1933 at Lewes, DE, Camp P-51
Co. 1224, April 1936 at Lewes, DE Camp MC-51
Co. 1226, November 1933 at Milford, DE, Camp P-51
Co. 1226, April 1936 at Milford, DE, Camp MC-52
Co. 1293, January 1936 at Georgetown, DE, Camp S-53
Co. 1295, July 1935 at Dover, DE, Camp MC-54
Co. 2213V, July, 1935 at Ft. DuPont, DE, Camp Army-1
Co. 3220, September 1935 at Georgetown, DE, Camp D-2/SCS-2
Co. 3221, October 1935 at Clayton, DE, Camp MC-55
Co. 3222, October 1935 at Wyoming, DE, Camp D-1
Co. 3269C, April 1938 at Dover, DE, Camp BS-1

The camp/company listings at the CCC Legacy website are simply representative and have been taken from the various camp strength listings for dates throughout the lifespan of the CCC.

The February 3, 1940 issue of Happy Days reported the death of a Delaware CCC enrollee from Company 3220, hit by an automobile. The microfilm image is poor; his first name was Dante and his last name looks like Corbyons.

The map image was taken from Stan Cohen's The Tree Army and highlights added to make it easier to read. To read the initial entry in the State-By-State series, click here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The C.C.C. State-By-State: Connecticut

Before we start, if you’re interested in going back to the initial post in the State-By-State series, click here. You’ll get some notion of the intent of this series and the background on where most of the statistical information is coming from.

Connecticut is a small state and as such the average number of total camps that worked there is small at just 13 according to Merrill in Roosevelt’s Forest Army. In 1937 the total stood at 17 camps, which sorted out thusly: 13 CCC camps were on state forests, 3 CCC camps were on private forests with a single CCC camp assigned to a state park. The existence of these camps meant more than 30,000 Connecticut men received work as a result of the CCC, including some 28,447 junior and veteran enrollees and 2,223 non-enrolled camp personnel.

The 1937 Annual Report of the Director of Emergency Conservation Work includes a state-by-state monthly breakdown of the numbers of enrollees by state. Connecticut’s enrollment for fiscal year 1937 shaped up like this:
July 1936: 3,842
August 1936: 3,571
September 1936: 2,433
October 1936: 3,122
November 1936: 2,891
December 1936: 2,718
January 1937: 3,090
February 1937: 2,907
March 1937: 1,920
April 1937: 2,378
May 1937: 2,143
June 1937: 1,887
Remember that these monthly totals reflect the number of men who enrolled in the CCC in Connecticut on a monthly basis, not the number of enrollees actually working in Connecticut month-to-month.

For the roughly $20.7 million spent on CCC work in Connecticut, the state gained 123 bridges of all types, 9 new lookout towers and over 1,000 acres of public camping and picnic grounds, among other improvements. Also according to Merrill, every CCC camp in Connecticut was named after a prominent person on either the state or national level.

There’s a very interesting point about the CCC buried in Merrill’s description of work in Connecticut. He notes that the Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) law did not make provision for construction of roads, the Forest Service referred to them as “truck trails.” Construction of such “truck trails” would be an important part of CCC work, not just in Connecticut but nationwide.

For a very recent CCC Resource Page post on the CCC at Natchaug, click here. Since that post was made, I’ve found out little about the CCC bridge over the Natchaug River.

Author Marty Podskoch has created a terrific website devoted to the CCC in Connecticut. To see a video of Mr. Podskoch giving a presentation on the CCC in Connecticut, click here.

Perry Merrill’s rundown of CCC work in Connecticut refers to the 1936 dam break above Hartford and the subsequent flooding. Merrill notes that “immediate help by CCC enrollees cleaned out 2,950 buildings and over 800 other structures.”

The 1936 flood was clearly a significant event in Connecticut history and there are ample resources online if you’re interested in more background. Connecticut History Online has a nifty few pages devoted to the flood of 1936 and the Hurricane of 1938. One photo listed with the 1936 flood information is particularly interesting and captivating because the caption purports it to be a photo of National Guardsmen deployed to help with the flood fight. For my money, those look an awful lot like CCC boys. Sadly, the page doesn’t make any reference to the response of the CCC, though there is a reference to the WPA in the section on suggested further reading.

Use the search feature at Connecticut History Online to find two images related to the CCC: an image of Camp Robinson at East Hartford taken in 1935 (who knows, maybe some of those boys helped with flood recovery the next year) and an image of a covered bridge that the CCC helped rebuild. (I’ve cited the copyright data for the photo of the flood response crew used here - above.)

Jump over to Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection website to track down a reference to the exact location of Camp Robinson in the Tunxis State Forest.

Connecticut has a museum dedicated to the CCC and to read a terrific blog post about this gem, click here. By all appearances this is a wonderful museum but sadly, I’m unable to find a website dedicated solely to the museum and its collection.

The book Civilian Conservation Corps: A Selectively Annotated Bibliography by Larry N. Sypolt offers up some tantalizing references to both primary and secondary source documents relating to the CCC nationwide and the entries for Connecticut are no exception. Dedicated and resourceful researchers will want to track down Austin Foster Hawes’ article entitled "The C.C.C. Makes Better Men and Forests in Connecticut," published by the State Forester in 1935. Also of interest: Mary E. Pasco’s article “Connecticut Improves Her Trout Streams: Civilian Conservation Corps Inaugurates Pioneer Work in Developing an Important Recreation Asset, published in the February 1934 issue of American Forests.

Connecticut is the smallest state thus far in our State-By-State rundown of work of the CCC across the United States. In looking at the map and searching for data and pictures, I’m reminded of a disparaging argument often made by revisionist historians regarding the CCC. It’s been argued – though less and less lately – that the CCC benefited the western United States to a greater degree than the eastern United States. I’ve always countered that, since most of the public domain is out west, most of the needed work was naturally in the western U.S. Furthermore, I’ve always pointed out that while more work may have been accomplished in the west (where it was most needed – see previous argument), a lot of the enrollees who performed that work out west came from cities, towns and villages in the eastern United States, consequently the allotments sent home to families didn’t end up in western communities but in eastern cities, towns and villages. You just have to look at a map of Connecticut with the ten CCC campsites highlighted to know that there couldn’t have been enough work to sustain a program like the CCC in Connecticut to the same degree it could be kept busy in Wyoming, Montana or California. One might argue that had it not been for the state forest system in the eastern U.S., the CCC would have accomplished little or no forestry work in this region. (In contrast, the vast tracts of USFS acreage in the west created infinite opportunities for the use of CCC labor.) Perhaps this theme is one we’ll revisit as we explore the work of the CCC in other eastern states.
For those of you keeping track, this is state number 7 in the State-By-State series. We'll look at the Delaware next. If you’d like to view a previous entry in the State-By-State series, I’ve added each new state name as a label so that it will be listed in the sidebar, alphabetically along with other labels used in this blog. As always, I look forward to input and hope you’ll post comments if you have something to share or feedback concerning how you found this blog or how you used the information posted here.

Image credits: As with all the State-by-State posts, the state map was taken from a larger map published in Stan Cohen's Tree Army. I simply highlighted the camp locations to make it easier to read. The photo of the flood fighting crew is from the Connecticut Historical Society and the photo of Camp White is from Cohen's Tree Army, where it is credited as a USFS photo.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The C.C.C. State-By-State: Colorado

The history of the CCC in Colorado has a very personal feeling for me because it was in Colorado that my grandfather worked as a U.S. Forest Service foreman for the CCC at places like Waunita Hot Spring, Norwood, Delta, Gardner, Idaho Springs, San Isabel and Monument. It was an interest in learning more about grandpa’s work that led me to an interest in the larger history of the CCC.

So, when I quote Perry Merrill’s statistics regarding the work of the CCC in Colorado, there is a good degree of pride for me in knowing that grandpa helped stack up some of those numbers for the history books. Merrill notes in Roosevelt’s Forest Army that in June 1937 (for example) there were 38 CCC camps in Colorado divided among the technical services thus: 10 National Park Service camps, 10 Soil Conservation Service camps, 6 National Park Service camps, 5 State Park camps, 4 Division of Grazing camps and 3 Bureau of Reclamation camps. My grandpa was among 5,303 camp officers and supervisory staff to work in CCC camps in Colorado that year. Specific work accomplished in Colorado included 577 impounding and large diversion dams, 2,000 miles of truck trails and minor roads and insect pest control on over 3,000,000 acres.

The Annual Report of the Director of Emergency Conservation Work for fiscal year 1937 includes a chart of enrollment numbers divided by state of enrollment. The monthly enrollment numbers for Colorado between July 1936 and June 1937 look like this:
July 1936: 3,428
August 1936: 3,078
September 1936: 2,173
October 1936: 3,249
November 1936: 3,115
December 1936: 2,978
January 1937: 3,805
February 1937: 3,609
March 1937: 2,395
April 1937: 3,264
May 1937: 2,994
June 1937: 2,708

Naturally, forestry work figures prominently in the story of the CCC in Colorado, but other significant CCC projects in the Mile High State include work in Colorado National Monument, Mesa Verde National Monument and in Red Rocks Park outside Denver.

For an exploration of the work of the CCC in Colorado National Monument, visit their online Administrative History – specifically Chapter 4. The December 30, 1933 edition of Happy Days reported on the work of CCC enrollees to help in the recovery of 9 Civil Works Administration workers who were killed in a landslide at Colorado National Monument on December 12th. You’ll find a detailed account of the event in the 2008 book With Picks, Shovels and Hope: The CCC and its Legacy on the Colorado Plateau by Wayne K. Hinton and Elizabeth A. Green. Though no CCC enrollees were injured in this tragedy, it is chilling to know that only two days earlier, CCC enrollees had been pulled off that particular part of the project because they lacked the masks required to protect them from the rock dust.

For a previous CCC Resource Blog post regarding the book New Deal Days: The CCC At Mesa Verde, click here. The work of CCC enrollees at Mesa Verde ran the gamut from tough labor constructing park infrastructure to delicate work constructing dioramas for the museum exhibits.

The CCC Legacy held their annual reunion at Denver's Red Rocks Park in 2009. Much of the original camp remains, in part because it was quickly occupied by the military shortly after its stint as a CCC camp was complete. There is an impressive exhibit in the amphitheatre visitor center that includes terrific photos of the work done by enrollees from camp SP-13-C. The main exhibit panel reads in part:

Red Rocks Amphitheatre was the Civilian Conservation Corps’ largest and most ambitious project. A crew of about 300 young men at any one time lived in barracks near Morrison and worked on the theatre from 1936 to 1941, with help from the National Parks Service and Works Progress Administration. They laid 10 boxcar loads of cement and put down 90,000 square feet of flagstone quarried at Lyons, Colorado. The physical structure of the facility, as well as all the finished terracing and stonework, was built by hand, without the help of any machines.

On a personal level, I’ve explored more of the history of the CCC in Colorado than perhaps any other state with the possible exception of Arizona. Most of what I have learned has come as a result of searching for information on the camps where my grandfather, William “Bill” Rutherford worked as a U.S. Forest Service foreman. Along the way, I learned a lot of other stuff about what the CCC did in Colorado.

There is perhaps no greater primary source document on the CCC in Colorado than the book History of Civilian Conservation Corps in Colorado, Summer 1936, which is basically a District Annual or yearbook that gives details on all the CCC camps working in what were then called the Littleton District and the Grand Junction District. And while the book is a treasure to folks looking for details on CCC companies in Colorado, it’s also a boon for anyone looking for histories of CCC companies that were formed in or worked in the 8th Corps Area because it contains a list of individual company histories, giving their mobilization date and location and the places they worked. (Admittedly, there are discrepancies in some individual histories when they are compared to information gathered through detailed research, but if you’re seeking information on a company that worked in Colorado, you can’t do any better than starting here. I’ll post scans of those pages here at the bottom of this post for your reference.)

I’ll close this entry in the State-By-State series by sharing the text of a memorandum that was posted at the Red Rocks CCC camp outside Denver in 1937. In welcoming new and visiting enrollees, I don’t think Lieutenant Neely could have done any better in his choice of encouraging words; they’re a decent set of guidelines even today.

August 2, 1937
Company Memorandum:
For the information of all New Enrollees and Enrollees on detached service with this company, the following is issued for your guidance.
You are welcome.
1. The camp policy is, “A square deal to all.”
2. We have but few rules – observe them.
3. Your problem is our problem.
4. This is your camp; be proud of it.
5. Cooperation and getting along is our Motto.
6. Your health and comfort are our chief concern.
7. Recreation is considered necessary.
8. Your privacy and rights are respected.
9. Respect the privacy and rights of all hands.
10. Help us maintain clean Barracks, clean Grounds and a smart appearance.
11. The Camp Commander always has time for your “Problem”.
Signed: H.W. Neely, 1st Lt. USNR, Commanding
+ + +
Some 75 years later I believe Lieutenant Neely's philosophy lived in the form of many enrollees, camp staff, overhead and military officers and their daily dealings with their fellowmen and I'm proud to let the record show that my grandfather William Rutherford was one of them

(above) Foreman Bill Rutherford with his crew, Norwood, Colorado. (below) the CCC camp at Idaho Springs, Colorado.

(below)Individual Company histories from the 1936 Colorado District Annual:

(Sources: The Colorado state map is taken from Cohen's Tree Army. Images from Colorado National Monument and Mesa Verde are from the book With Picks, Shovels and Hope. The contemporary image of the camp at Morrison, Colorado and the text of Lt. Neely's letter are from the Red Rocks visitor center exhibit. The company histories were taken from the 1936 District Annual. The image of the Idaho Springs CCC camp is from the Colorado State Archives, item number 30255 FF-6.)