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    Civilian Conservation Corps

    Among the numerous New Deal programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) is remembered as one of the most popular and effective. Established on March 31, 1933, the corps’s objective was to recruit unemployed young men (and later, out-of-work veterans) for forestry, erosion control, flood prevention, and parks development. The president’s […]

    Civilian Conservation Corps

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    Ren Davis, Atlanta

    Originally published Aug 28, 2009

    Last edited Aug 20, 2020

    Among the numerous New Deal programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) is remembered as one of the most popular and effective. Established on March 31, 1933, the corps’s objective was to recruit unemployed young men (and later, out-of-work veterans) for forestry, erosion control, flood prevention, and parks development. The president’s ambitious goal was to enroll a quarter of a million men by July 1, 1933. In what is considered to be a miracle of cooperation, four government agencies collaborated to turn Roosevelt’s goal into reality.

    Work Detail, Civilian Conservation Corps

    Courtesy of Georgia Archives.

    The U.S. Department of Labor recruited men for six-month enlistments; the U.S. Department of War provided army officers to operate 200-man work camps; and the U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture identified projects and supervised the work (local experienced men, called “LEMs,” were also employed to train and oversee the mostly unskilled laborers). By the president’s deadline, 274,375 men were at work in 1,300 camps nationwide. During the CCC’s nine-year existence, more than 3 million men, endearingly called “Roosevelt’s Tree Army,” worked from 16,000 camps carrying out projects across the nation.

    To manage this complex organization, President Roosevelt tapped Robert Fechner, the vice president of the International Association of Machinists. Raised in Macon and Griffin, and trained as a machinist in Augusta, Fechner proved to be an exceptional choice for the job, working tirelessly on behalf of the program and the men until his death in 1939.

    Georgia’s Tree Army

    Despite opposition from Georgia governor Eugene Talmadge, who argued that federal New Deal programs were an intrusion into state government affairs, the CCC was overwhelmingly popular in Georgia. Before the corps’ termination on July 1, 1942, more than 78,000 men were employed in 127 camps (approximately 30-35 camps operated at a time) across the state.

    Enrollment in the CCC was determined by quota based on state population and unemployment rolls. By law, racial discrimination was prohibited. Nonetheless, nearly all the camps were segregated, and African Americans were often discouraged or even prevented from enlisting. Early in the program, several southern states, including Georgia, failed to recruit eligible Black workers until the Labor Department threatened to withhold a state’s entire quota unless the issue was satisfactorily addressed.

    Civilian Conservation Corps

    Courtesy of Georgia Archives.

    The CCC’s motto was “We Can Take It!,” and camp life was a mixture of hard work and camaraderie. Enrollees from city streets and rural farms learned to live, work, and play together. Men acquired skills that, for many, led to careers or prepared them for service in World War II (1941-45), and the $30 per month they earned ($25 went home to families) helped loved ones survive the dark days of the Great Depression. The men of Company 4463 GA SP-13, who developed a state park on Pine Mountain, even had the distinction of serving as President Roosevelt’s honor guard during his visits to nearby Warm Springs for polio therapy.

    An Enduring Legacy

    Across the state, the CCC carried out projects of lasting value to all Georgians. Enrollees planted more than 22 million trees, constructed nearly a half-million erosion-control dams, and ran more than 3,600 miles of telephone lines. Perhaps their most tangible legacy is found in Georgia’s state parks, national parks, and national forest.

    Lake Rutledge

    Courtesy of Georgia Archives.

    In 1933 Georgia had two “state forest parks” at Indian Springs, in Butts County, and Vogel, in Union County. With support from the National Park Service, six more state parks were established over the next nine years. CCC workers built lakes and ponds, constructed cabins and lodges of now characteristic “park rustic” design, blazed trails, and in collaboration with the Works Progress Administration, or WPA, erected group camps at selected parks, then known as “Recreational Demonstration Areas.” Today, visitors still enjoy CCC craftsmanship at the parks mentioned above, as well as at A. H. Stephens (Taliaferro County), F. D. Roosevelt (Harris County), Fort Mountain (Murray County), Hard Labor Creek (Morgan County), Kolomoki Mounds (Early County), and Little Ocmulgee (Telfair County and Wheeler County) state parks.

    CCC Barracks

    Courtesy of Georgia Archives.

    CCC work in Georgia’s national park properties focused on the preservation of natural or historic features. At Chickamauga and Kennesaw Mountain battlefields, in Walker and Cobb counties respectively, preservation included the construction of roads and trails, and restoration of historic fortifications. At the Ocmulgee mounds, outside of Macon, enrollees supported archaeological work and building construction. They carried out road and bridge work at Andersonville National Historic Site, in Macon County, and restored the masonry walls and dikes at Fort Pulaski National Monument, located just outside Savannah.

    Source : www.georgiaencyclopedia.org

    Civilian Conservation Corps

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    Civilian Conservation Corps

    The Old East Entrance Station, a CCC-built structure.  The station fell into disuse when I-94 was built and the South Unit's park entrance road was relocated.  It is a short walk through a prairie dog town to the historic structure.

    NPS Photo


    The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), established by Congress on March 31, 1933, provided jobs for young, unemployed men during the Great Depression. Over its 9-year lifespan, the CCC employed about 3 million men nationwide. The CCC made valuable contributions to forest management, flood control, conservation projects, and the development of state and national parks, forests, and historic sites. In return, the men received the benefits of education and training, a small paycheck, and the dignity of honest work. Three CCC companies operated in the North Dakota badlands between 1934 and 1941, contributing to projects that today’s visitors can still appreciate.

    CCC Company 2771 made its camp on Jones Creek from late 1939 to 1941.


    Companies and CampsThe North Dakota State Historical Society sponsored the three CCC companies that worked in the badlands from 1934 to 1941. All three CCC companies in the badlands arrived in 1934. About 200 men were assigned to each company.

    When CCC Companies 2767, 2771, and 2772 arrived, the men lived in tents until buildings could be erected at their camps. When completed, each camp included a full complement of buildings: barracks, mess hall, recreational hall, bath house, latrine, supply, garage, and headquarters. The camp complex also included its own classrooms, hospital, barber shop, post office, canteen, and sometimes a theater. The buildings were frame structures heated by wood and coal burning pot-belly stoves.

    Company 2767’s camp was located on the west bank of the Little Missouri River in what is now the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park from July, 1934 to 1937. Companies 2771 and 2772 established camps adjacent to one another in 1934 on the north bank of the Little Missouri River near what is now the entrance to the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Company 2771 moved out in 1935, but Company 2772 remained until the fall of 1939. In 1939, Company 2771 moved to a site on the east bank of the Little Missouri River just south of Jones Creek, which they occupied until November, 1941.

    CCC workers building the River Bend Overlook shelter, circa 1937.


    The WorkThe CCC sought to provide the maximum opportunity for labor at a minimum cost for materials and equipment. With little more than strong backs, shovels, and picks, the CCC built roads, trails, culverts, and structures. When building structures, the CCC utilized native materials, such as the local sandstone, which they quarried themselves with star drills, sledge hammers, muscle, and sweat.

    In the badlands, the CCC, along with the Emergency Relief Administration (ERA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), worked on numerous projects. Even as the men were working on these construction projects, it was unclear who would ultimately be responsible for managing these recreation areas; Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park was not established until 1947.

    In the North Unit of the park, the CCC built the two picnic shelters in the Juniper campground area and the River Bend Overlook shelter. In the South Unit, the CCC built the now-abandoned East Entrance Station, the entrance pylons, and portions of the park's roads and trails. The CCC also built structures at the nearby Chateau de Mores State Historic Site.

    A CCC veteran who worked in the badlands reflected on the 50th anniversary of the CCC, "You learned how to live with other men, you learned self esteem ... you learned about yourself."


    The PeopleThe CCC was open to unemployed men ages 17 to 23.5 who were U.S. citizens. Enrollees served 6-month terms, and were allowed to re-enroll at the end of each term up to a maximum of two years. A CCC worker’s salary was $30 a month, most of which the men sent home to their families. Meals, lodging, clothing, medical, and dental care were all free for enrollees. The men generally spent $5 to $8 of their monthly salary on toiletries, postage, haircuts, and occasional entertainment. The few enrollees promoted to Assistant Leader and Leader positions earned a bit more, $36 and $45 per month, respectively.

    Source : www.nps.gov

    Civilian Conservation Corps

    The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a work relief program that gave millions of young men employment on environmental projects during the Great

    Civilian Conservation Corps

    Author: History.com Editors Updated: Mar 31, 2021 Original: May 11, 2010

    PhotoQuest/Getty Images


    CCC and the New Deal

    CCC Camps

    Minorities in the CCC

    Notable CCC Alumni

    Criticisms of the CCC

    CCC Achievements

    Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy


    The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a work relief program that gave millions of young men employment on environmental projects during the Great Depression. Considered by many to be one of the most successful of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, the CCC planted more than three billion trees and constructed trails and shelters in more than 800 parks nationwide during its nine years of existence. The CCC helped to shape the modern national and state park systems we enjoy today.

    CCC and the New Deal

    WATCH: Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal

    President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, with an executive order on April 5, 1933. The CCC was part of his New Deal legislation, combating high unemployment during the Great Depression by putting hundreds of thousands of young men to work on environmental conservation projects.

    The CCC combined FDR’s interests in conservation and universal service for youth. As governor of New York, he had run a similar program on a smaller scale.

    The United States Army helped to solve an early logistical problem – transportation. Most of the unemployed men were in Eastern cities while much of the conservation work was in the West.

    The Army organized the transportation of thousands of enrollees to work camps around the country. By July 1, 1933, 1,433 working camps had been established and more than 300,000 men put to work. It was the most rapid peacetime mobilization in American history.

    Under the guidance of the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, CCC employees fought forest fires, planted trees, cleared and maintained access roads, re-seeded grazing lands and implemented soil-erosion controls.

    Additionally, they built wildlife refuges, fish-rearing facilities, water storage basins and animal shelters. To encourage citizens to get out and enjoy America’s natural resources, FDR authorized the CCC to build bridges and campground facilities.

    CCC Camps

    The CCC enrolled mostly young, unskilled and unemployed men between the ages of 18 and 25. The men came primarily from families on government assistance. Men enlisted for a minimum of six months.

    Each worker received $30 in payment per month for his services in addition to room and board at a work camp. The men were required to send $22 to 25 of their monthly earnings home to support their families.

    Some corpsmen received supplemental basic and vocational education while they served. In fact, it’s estimated that some 57,000 illiterate men learned to read and write in CCC camps.

    16 Gallery 16 Images

    Minorities in the CCC

    In addition to younger men, the CCC enrolled World War I Army veterans, skilled foresters and craftsmen, and roughly 88,000 Native Americans living on Indian reservations.

    Despite an amendment outlawing racial discrimination in the CCC, young African American enrollees lived and worked in separate camps. In the 1930s, the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t think of segregation as racial discrimination.

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    Enrollment in the CCC peaked in August 1935. At the time, more than 500,000 corpsmen were spread across 2,900 camps. It’s estimated that nearly three million men – about five percent of the total United States male population – took part in the CCC over the course of the agency’s nine-year history.

    Women were prohibited from joining the CCC.

    Notable CCC Alumni

    Several celebrities served in the CCC before they were famous.

    Actors Walter Matthau and Raymond Burr labored in Montana and California, respectively. American league baseball hall-of-famer Stan Musial also worked for the CCC, as did test pilot Chuck Yeager, the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound.

    Veteran conservationist and author Aldo Leopold supervised CCC erosion control and forestry projects in Arizona and New Mexico.

    Criticisms of the CCC

    Though the CCC enjoyed overwhelming public support throughout its tenure, the agency’s programs initially drew criticism from organized labor.

    Trade unions opposed the training of unskilled workers when so many union members were out of work. They also opposed Army involvement in the CCC, which they feared could lead to state control and regimentation of labor.

    In order to quell union opposition, FDR appointed American labor union leader and vice president of the International Association of Machinists as the first director of the CCC.

    Source : www.history.com

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