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.


Anonymous said...

Are you aware of the CCC Camps in Iowa? We are currently working on restoring the original Recreational Hall for Camp Flying Goose 1755 & Erosioners 1752 which came to Eldora, Iowa in November, 1933 & 1935 to help build the second lake for Pine Creek (now Lake) State Park. We have quite an interesting story as when World War II started, our CCC campsite also became a Prisoner of War Camp for Italian and German Prisoners. Very little information is known about us, so thought I would share a bit for your taste buds. It was fun reading about other camps in the US. Our CCC camp was in business from 1933-1942, POW camp 1943-1946.

Michael said...

Hello Iowa. I'm thrilled that you dropped in. I don't know of any CCC information on Iowa off the top of my head. Let me check the file cabinet and I'll repost with a comment on Iowa CCC work if I have anything.

It's amazing how many CCC camps were repurposed for use as POW camps and for other uses. One camp in Phoenix, Arizona was used as a POW camp and sadly, another camp north of Phoenix was used to house Japanese Americans for a short time.

historywriter said...

Great Blog. I'll definitely bookmark it. I've been researching the CCC in the NW and recently published a novel set in such a camp. TREE SOLDIER won in historical fiction for the 2012 EPIC ebook award two weeks ago. What I enjoy so much about writing and researching about the 3 Cs is meeting family members of relatives who served and foresters and park people who love the work of those CCC boys.

I understand that many of the records of the CCC are housed in the St Louis branch of the National Archives, though collections for WA inquiries are in Bellingham, WA and Seattle.