Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Civilian Conservation Corps

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The purposes of the CCC were to find useful conservation work for the hundreds of thousands of young men who were out of work, and to provide on-the-job training for the enrollees. The CCC provided work in forests, parks, and rangelands throughout the United States.

The value of this endeavor is with us still. Much of the infrastructure in the NC mountains exists because of the work of these wonderful young men. Whenever we drive through these mountains we see the fruits of their labors. For the lovely stone bridges, and even the roads themselves, we continually thank the men of the CCC.

One can't drive far in Western NC without seeing a sign marking a route as "CCC Camp Road." Although there were many such camps located in our county, my favorite is the one at John Rock, the first CCC camp in Western NC. While the camp no longer exists, there is a very nice monument in honor of the CCC workers.

This is the larger than life-sized statue symbolizing the CCC worker.

This is John Rock itself. A popular hiking trail leads to the top.

Seen from behind, the CCC worker appears to be looking up at John Rock.

Life in the CCC camps was not all work. Health and dental care were provided, along with recreational activities and religious services. Many of the young men first learned to hunt and fish during their time of service. Almost all of them gained a new respect for forests and knowledge in forest maintenance. They came away from the camps with renewed enthusiasm and self-confidence. The work provided by the CCC allowed men to provide financial assistance to their families at a time when unemployment was extremely high.

The CCC program ended in 1942. With our entry into WWII, the men were needed for other battles.

I cannot tell you how strongly connected I feel to these young men and boys. Many of the roads and the recreational areas in Pisgah National Forest and many other places are there because of the CCC.

I urge you to make an effort to find out what the CCC may have done in your area. And if you know of someone who worked in the CCC, or his family...please thank them for me and the people of the Western NC mountains.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

My Dad was in the CCC here in Minnesota. He told me many stories of the work they did in the Minnesota State Park system. Like you mentioned, there were also stories of swimming and fishing. Dad said the CCC provided work, taught skills, provided housing and meals and sent his stipend home to his family where it was much needed. These things allowed the men to maintain their dignity as jobs at home were so difficult to get.
I've been missing my Dad alot lately. Your post brought back so many memories of him.
Thank you.

Stacey Olson said...

We were hiking about a month ago and I found a place way on top the mountain that had CCC, names and dates carved in a rock face. Not sure if they were cutting in an old road or logging, mining??etc??? but it was pretty cool.

Cicero Sings said...

The CCC was a great concept ... a great thing. I first found out about it and enjoyed the fruit of that labour at Mt. Baker in Washington State!

The Birdlady said...

Yes, Carolyn - the CCC built Skyline Dr in my beloved SNP. There is a similar statue in the park. We havemarvelled at how they made that trail through the mountins and built a road - it's beginning to need some work - they did a little during this past winter, but a lot of traafic uses the road.

Jayne said...

My dad often talks about the CCC and what a great program it was for the time it was really needed. So many wonderful things were accomplished.

Anonymous said...

The CCC was a great help to America's parks, infastructure, and economy. Another of FDR's brainchildren.

dguzman said...

Those were great times--civilians out there beautifying their nation. Does anyone (besides us tree-huggers) take the time to do that now?

KGMom said...

FDR began several programs that were truly inspired. The CCC was one such.
Thanks for the reminder and the bit of history.

NCmountainwoman said...

Lynne - How fortunate that you were able to hear these stories.

Stacey - Don't you just love it when you find something unexpected like that?

Cicero - Yes, the CCC was a wonderful thing. The effects were very long-reaching.

Helen - I am also amazed that they were able to make roads through the mountains.

Jayne - It was a perfect solution to a desperate problem. My parents also talked about the men of the CCC.

Science guy - I am more and more impressed with what FDR was able to accomplish. With today's Congress, it couldn't have been done.

Delia - My husband volunteers with the National Forest Service maintaining trails and building bridges. He's rather like an older unpaid CCC worker.

Donna - When you reflect on it, it does seem incredible.

Bird girl - I'm sure you take every opportunity to listen to the stories. You are lucky to have such a friend. There are fewer and fewer of them left.