A Walk Through History…The Civilian Conservation Corps

The forests are the lungs of our land, they purify our air and give fresh strength to our people

_FDR

When I watch the news show the stock dropping I worry, am I really going to see a Great Depression in my lifetime? I’m driving on streets that are a ghost town and it’s another reminder things have changed…

When I hit the woods for some clarity I see all the DCR signs etc. And it hits me, I am able to clear my thoughts in these woods because there was a Great Depression already. What might we change or establish this time.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s President Roosevelt had a lot on his plate, war recovery, a depression and a lot of young men displaced without jobs. To alleviate this problem and save the economy he made what may be one of the most popular decisions ever, he put those boys to work and created the State and Federal parks you’re walking in now…

One month after being sworn in, FDR created the “The New Deal” and The CCC (also known as FDR’s tree army) was given a green light.

The birth of the Civilian Conservation Corps…

The CCC was a voluntary public work relief program that ran from 1933 to 1942. It was mainly for men between the ages 17 to 28 years old. The program’s intent was to employ the men to do hard labor for a wage of 30 dollars a week and room and board creating different parks and recreation areas around the country. The money was to be sent home to care for their families. They had an African American troop and a Native American troop of around 15,000 as well. The depression hit hard on the reservations and they were mainly responsible for the lands around it.

Some of the hard jobs they completed were creating fire roads, putting up phone poles, planting trees, care of wildlife, battling insects that were harming the trees, restoring historical homes, etc found in the forest, created trails for hiking, etc I could go on. They worked hard, like soldiers. I thank them for every walk I take in the woods.

This program is dear to me, not just because I’m able to hike these parks now, but also because I have a personal connection to it.

My grandfather after being in the army joined the CCC and helped landscape The Myles Standish Forest. He loved being outdoors and we spent summers in Sebago Maine exploring, he definitely fostered my love for a lot of things outdoors; fishing ,amateur astronomy. He was amazing. I lost him to Lou Gehrig’s disease when I was twenty but every trail I walk on now I can think of him.

Photos of my grampa at the camp…

Life in a CCC camp…

For each big site the CCC worked on they would set up a camp for. The camps were run like army barracks and rules. They even woke up to a bugle blowing every morning. Each camp had a few superintendents, and each would have their own group of men they worked with. Most camps used tents for sleeping but had a mess hall and bathhouse of some kind.

Along with the room and board they received they also were provided opportunities to further their education or learn a trade. A percentage of the men that came in were illiterate and did not have an option to get a diploma. The men could get their GED then go on to learn one of the trades that were offered there and have a better chance at employment when the economy recovered.

My grandfather’s CCC discharge papers.

We as a nation, no as the human race are heading into a very scary time, there could not possibly be a scale of jobs quickly created as the New Deal. Or is there? Maybe we could start the New New Deal and put those boys (and girls) to work fixing up our infrastructure.

FDR was the man with the plan. The right guy at the right time, without him you wouldn’t have the opportunity to at least go out and enjoy the fresh air and some nature right now. Let’s all give him a quick thank you while we stroll for saving our asses then and our minds now…

Author: sasysquatchgirl

A Bigfoot and beyond blogger and Nature Photographer from New England. I spend a majority of my free time in the woods exploring for any signs the hairy man has been around and snapping some pics along the way. So if you’re following this blog, you’ll be the first to know if I see him...

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