The CCC . . . in Color!

Today’s post is written by Cody White, Archivist at the National Archives at Denver.

In his first 100 days in office, President Franklin Roosevelt worked furiously to tamp down the widespread unemployment and economic unrest that gripped the United States back in 1932. Arguably the most famous legislation passed that spring was the Emergency Conservation Work (EWC) Act, creating the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that ultimately put over 2,000,000 men to work during its nine years of existence.

The CCC projects were accomplished through a host of existing federal agencies as well as state and local municipalities. Records regarding CCC work done through federal agencies can be found in National Archives holdings nationwide. At the National Archives at Denver this includes the series “Narrative Reports of Individual CCC Camps, 1936-1938, (NAID 292847)” which details the work done in Department of Grazing camps in the west.

Found in Record Group 49, Records of the Bureau of Land Management, these narrative reports were compiled per period, the six month span of time that CCC enrollments were broken into, and chronicle the work, as well as sometimes the educational and recreational activities, of the enrollees through both text and photographs. Typically these photographs are black and white, but in 1937 Camp DG-32, out of Dalton Wells, Utah, had Arrow Photo Service of Minneapolis, Minnesota hand color select photographs, giving their narrative reports a distinctive feature not seen in others.

WHERE THEY WORKED

Dalton Wells Camp DG-32 was located about 15 miles northwest of Moab, Utah, due west of Arches National Park today. During World War II, the shuttered camp was turned into the Moab Relocation Center, housing Japanese internees deemed “troublemakers” from other internment camps. Today the site, off U.S. Highway 191, is marked with a plaque and all that remains of the camp are two stone pylons that once held the entrance sign.

grazing-sheep

View of Camp DG-32, with sheep grazing in foreground.

side-camp

Oftentimes in the West, CCC projects were far flung, so side, or spike, camps were established apart from the main camp. Here we see the Cisco Spring side camp, 65 miles from the main DG-32 camp.

HOW THEY WORKED

The Department of Grazing’s CCC projects all centered on improving grazing for area ranchers so projects typically included well/reservoir creation, corral and road building, and predator/rodent removal.

road-building

Enrollees working on Grays Pasture Road, a 32 mile span that took over a year and $243 a mile to build.

rodent-control

A rodent control crew in the field. Covering over 10,925 acres around La Sal Utah. Crews worked to eradicate prairie dogs and jackrabbits by use of poison grain.

WHAT THEY WORKED ON

browns-hole-bridge

Brown’s Hole Bridge, seen here under construction, was a single span timber bridge that cost a total of $366.77.

moki-type-dam

This dam created the Cottonwood Reservoir, capable of holding 20 acre feet of water which is equivalent to 6,500,000 gallons.

thompson-resovoir

The Thompson Reservoir had a storage capacity of seven acre feet of water and along with the earthen dam that created it, cost a total of $762.69 to build.

HOW THEIR WORK WAS USED

dubinky-well

Sheep utilizing the Dubinky Well, a 604 foot well equipped with a windmill, 7,000 gallon storage tank, and 100 foot metal trough to serve the thousands of sheep and cattle that grazed in the area.

corral

Corrals for both sheep and cattle were constructed near railheads to assist ranchers in not only loading stock onto trains for shipment but also sorting their herds.

herd-of-beef

While trains to the stockyards had long supplanted the cattle drives of old, horses still proved to be indispensable in herding.

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4 Responses to The CCC . . . in Color!

  1. This is a very interesting story about something that I have been wanting to study, the CCC camps.
    I knew some of the men who were in the CCC. Thanks

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  2. tincanguy says:

    My mother taught adult classes in English at one of the camps in Texas. I would love to hear more about them.

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  3. There has been a great effort in the southwestern corner of Utah to preserve the history of our CCC camps, especially those in the national parks at Zion Park and Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks. Oral histories were taken some years ago from the “boys” who worked here and the transcriptions are available at Southern Utah University Special Collections.
    Also, Kenneth Baldridge is updating his 1971 thesis, Nine years of achievement : the Civilian Conservation Corps in Utah, and Dr. Wayne Hinton of Southern Utah University, published
    With picks, shovels, and hope : the CCC and its legacy on the Colorado Plateau in 2008.

    In the Special Collections, there is also a publication: The Civilian Conservation Corps in southeastern Utah, an oral history project by the Utah State Historical Society and Cal State Fullerton in 1976.

    There is a national organization known as CCC Legacy that hosts conferences and honors CCC projects around the country. They recently met in Las Vegas and also came to Zion Park for the dedication of a CCC Boy Statue. You can look them up online at http://www.ccclegacy.org/.
    In Utah, we continue to honor their work. I am pleased to have known several of the “boys” in our town. Thanks for posting the color photos. Janet Seegmiller, SUU archivist, retired.

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    • Cody White says:

      Janet, thanks for the insight! Glad to hear so much work has taken place in Utah to preserve the history of the CCC. I love the topic, as one can see, and though was down there two years ago, now I’ll have to make another trip to see the statue! Funny enough, one of my favorite CCC records is in regards to the park there – in a monthly report on activities the architect talks about finishing the south entrance pillars to the park and notes how ““there has been some criticism that the smaller of the two pillars is too small and presents the wrong proportions.” I’d say today those pillars are pretty iconic!

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