Records about the Civilian Conservation Corps in the National Register of Historic Places

Today’s post is by John LeGloahec, Archivist in the Electronic Records Division at the National Archives in College Park, MD.

CCC Camp, Stowe VT
CCC Camp (National Archives Identifier 281450)

When the United States was mired in the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps, to help improve America’s public lands, forests, and parks.  There are just under one thousand properties in the National Register of Historic Places associated with the CCC, including the Stowe CCC Side Camp (National Archives Identifier 84285461), which “is located within the Mount Mansfield State Forest on the Mountain Road, otherwise called Vermont Route 108 in Stowe, VT, about 1/2 mile south of the main entrance to the Stowe ski area. It maintains much of its integrity and is a significant building in the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in Vermont and the development of downhill skiing as a sport and major source of Vermont’s history and economy. It was built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a side camp. Camp S-53, for state construction in the area, including the significant cutting of ski trails on Mt. Mansfield. This building served as the main side camp for the trail cutting, which was to usher in the beginning of downhill skiing in Vermont. It housed 50 men -25 with the remaining 25 and the State Forester living in smaller camps behind it. The CCC continued until WWII and as early as 1940 the building was opened as the first and only State-operated ski lodge in the United States. Today its use is similar in theme to its original purpose as it serves as an inexpensive rustic hostel for skiers in the winter and the base camp for AmeriCorps in the summer for their trail and forestry projects . . . This area was the start of popular downhill skiing in New England and ultimately became a major industry and resort. Mount Mansfield (elevation 4,393 feet) is the tallest mountain in Vermont and the pinnacle of the Green Mountains, which run along the spine of the state. Mount Mansfield has been a popular tourist destination and resort area dating back to 1863 when it hosted a number of summer resorts. Many of the accomplishments within the forests around Mount Mansfield can be attributed to Perry Merrill who was the Commissioner of Forestry in Vermont and selected the site at the base of the Toll Road, no doubt influenced by his passion for skiing, a skill he developed in 1924 as a student in Europe. The CCC workers based at the Stowe side camp were responsible for cutting numerous ski trails on all sides of Mount Mansfield. This fact was due largely in part to the avid ski passions of Vermont’s CCC leader. Perry Merrill and engineer Charlie Lord.”

Rabideau CCC Camp, MN
Civilian Conservation Corps – Camps – Minnesota (National Archives Identifier 7004899)

Within the Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota is the Minnesota SP Rabideau Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp (National Archives Identifier 93201370), which “is located six miles south of Blackduck, MN and about ¼ mile west of CSAH #39, between Carl’s & Benjamin Lake. The 17 wood buildings remaining on this site are frame construction, constructed in 1935 . . . The buildings have received some maintenance during occupancy by University of Illinois Forestry and Engineering Students during past summers. This occupancy terminated on June 21, 1973.”

“The Civilian Conservation Corps, Company 708, first occupied the buildings on this site, January 5, 1936. Construction of the buildings was completed in the fall of 1935. Company 708 occupied a site at Bena, MN from 1933-36. In Minnesota, more than 11,000 young men engaged in practical conservation in 48 CCC Camps. Rabideau CCC Camp is the only known remaining CCC Camp in Minnesota . . . The third reunion of former Company 708 personnel was held at Blackduck on August 4, 1973, the 40th anniversary of the CCC program. A resolution was made and signed by those attending the reunion, asking that the camp be preserved as a historic site. A committee of 3 members was set up to represent the approximately 250 former camp personnel.”

CCC Bridge
Beartooth Highway – Old CCC Bridge Across Lake Creek (National Archives Identifier 7717239)

In Athens, Arkansas is the Shady Lake CCC Bridge (National Archives Identifier 26140198) (similar to the type of bridge pictured above) that “spans the East Fork of the Saline River on the northern edge of Shady Lake in rural Polk County, Arkansas. The bridge is located about 3. 7 miles north of Arkansas Highway 246 on the Shady Lake Campground loop road, which services the Shady Lake camping area. This section of road, which skirts the north shore of Shady Lake, was originally part of Forest Service Road 3 8 before crews built a bypass to reduce traffic through the campground. The bridge’s setting is the wooded slopes of the Ouachita Mountains. 1 Constructed by the CCC in 1936, the bridge was part of a greater effort to develop the area for recreation. It now carries traffic to 97 camping units, a picnic area, swimming area, boat dock, and other amenities.”

“The CCC played an especially significant role in Arkansas during the 1930s. Nationwide, the Corps was organized into nine districts; Arkansas fell under the jurisdiction of the Seventh Corps District based in Omaha, Nebraska. The Arkansas District headquarters were established April 4, 1933, at East 25th Street and Rock Island Railroad in Little Rock, and subdistricts were created for the northwestern, northeastern, western, and southern regions of the state. Each subdistrict oversaw various camps, the first of which was the 741 st Company, established at Crystal Springs, Arkansas, on May 1, 193 3. At the height of the CCC presence in Arkansas in 193 5, there were 65 camps throughout the state.”

“Organized on the same day as the Crystal Springs camp, the 742nd Company, located 16 miles southeast of Mena, was the second CCC camp organized in Arkansas. Nestled in the mountains of the Ouachita National Forest, the camp was named “Shady” after a town that once existed two miles to the west. On June 15, 1933, 200 CCC recruits set up tents and began construction on their new camp. They completed the work on July 11, 1933, and began field work the following day.”

“Camp Shady’s project district covered about 133,920 square acres, within which CCC men fought fires and built or improved roads, bridges, dams, and other infrastructure. During the first two years, crews cleared underbrush from 12,026 acres of pine forest in an effort to reduce fire hazard. They also built 80 miles of Forest Service road, including the Shady Truck Trail No. 25, West Boundary Truck Trail No. 176, the Sugar Tree Truck Trail No. 56, the Brushy Truck Trail No. 30, Standing Rock Truck Trail No. 168, Two Mile Truck Trail No. 173, and Cove Truck Trail No. 129. In addition to forest maintenance and road construction, crews built 16low water bridges, one dam, and two campgrounds.”

Within McCormick’s Creek State Park in Spencer, Indiana is the CCC Recreation Building / Nature Museum (National Archives Identifier 132001950), which “lies nearly hidden in the woods immediately north of the park road leading to the nearby Maple Grove picnic shelter (on the site of a former campground) and beyond. To the south across the road is the former bath house, now the park’s recreation center. A lightly graveled approach runs west-northwesterly off the park road along the south facade of the CCC building. Just to the northwest of the CCC building stands an open picnic shelter, formerly an animal shelter that was constructed probably about 1940. A lightly graveled service lane lies immediately west of the building and leads almost to the shelter. (A photograph from the 1930s suggests this road was once wider and more strictly maintained as the approach to the nature museum. It is presently part of the park’s trail system.)”

“The building is of functional design but with such Craftsman influences as exposed rafter ends and fly rafters, essentially rectangular with a hipped roof, and a short gabled wing to the east containing a large stone fireplace. A metal flue encased in concrete protrudes from the roof below the peak on the north side. On the west side also, what appears to be either a vent or some sort of flue protrudes upward. (Neither of these is connected to anything within.) The northeast comer is squared off between the main part of the building and the wing beneath a shed roof. Probably the building was originally roofed with wood shingles, which have been replaced (or covered) with ones of asphalt. (Otherwise, all original materials appear to be in place, including the board-and-batten siding. There are two entrances, north and south; the north entrance must have been the main one when the CCC camp was in existence. (The rest of the camp had lain to the north.) A short rough flagstone path leads up to the north entrance. The entrance with its wood door (with window, boarded) is flanked by two windows, presumably eight-light casements, as are most of the windows of the building, excepting those in the shed-roofed section, which has four windows, one on the north and three on the east, each of a different size.”

“Secreted away in its heavily forested surroundings, the CCC recreation building/nature museum is the only CCC camp building of any sort to survive in its original location in any Indiana state park. In addition, the building was later rehabilitated by the Works Progress Administration to become the earliest nature museum in its own separate facility in any Indiana state park. As such, the building is an outstanding material record of two important areas of New Deal public works and recreational development in Indiana state parks during the 1930s, as described in the historic context “New Deal Work Programs in Indiana State Parks.” The presence of CCC camp sites is treated within the historic context, and although an associated property type was not isolated, camp buildings are discussed. In addition, by virtue of its role as a nature museum, as noted in the associated property type identified as “Properties associated with New Deal work projects related to public education,” the CCC recreation building/nature museum is eligible under Criterion A in the areas of recreation and social history because it is associated with the New Deal and its combined solutions to the need for recreational development and unemployment relief, and the expanded concepts of what recreational development ought to include.”

“McCormick’s Creek State Park was the first of Indiana’s state parks, established in 1916 even before the Indiana Department of Conservation was created. Within a few years, an existing building was remodeled into a park inn, some picnic areas established, and a few trails built. Ihe park was very popular, and the Department of Conservation saw to the construction of a swimming pool and bath house near the inn in the late 1920s. McCormick’s Creek also boasted group camping facilities. With the establishment of CCC Company 589 at Camp SP-4 from November 1933 until July 1935, McCormick’s Creek was able to undertake an ambitious and much-needed new development program. Along with some reforestation, landscaping, and additional road and trail building, the CCC boys worked on the construction of numerous outdoor recreational facilities and their supporting infrastructure, and indeed, shaped much of the park as we know it today. The CCC enrollees lived in a quasi-military camp in wooden barracks with an assortment of wooden outbuildings, including a mess hall, officers’ quarters, and a recreation building.”

CCC Camp Danby VT
1148th Company, CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps] Camp, Danby, Vermont (National Archives Identifier 24496737)

Across the State of Vermont are many CCC camps, including the Danby camp seen above as well as Coolidge State Park (National Archives Identifier 84284818), “an outstanding example of the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s and 1940s. The park is named after the 30th president of the United States who was born, and sworn into office, in the village of Plymouth Notch, just two miles to the south. Constructed from 1933 through 1941, Coolidge State Park was the third of 21 state parks established by the CCC in Vermont. It serves as the recreation and maintenance center of the Coolidge State Forest. The nomination boundaries of the park contain two of the State Forest’s land management blocks: Bradley Hill and Compartment Two of the Pinney Hollow block.”

“Established in March of 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps was one of the first Depression- era social programs enacted to combat unemployment, and became one of the most successful and most popular of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal measures of the 1930s. The federal program put unemployed young men to work conserving the nation’s natural resources and building recreational destinations in the nation’s parks and forests. Coolidge State Park was built by the young men of the CCC’s 145th Company from Rhode Island. The Coolidge Forest CCC Camp, S-52, was located in the Pinney Hollow block and served as the base of operations for over five hundred CCC workers from June 9,1933 to December 14,1941. Although there is no sign of the barracks that once housed the workers, a forester’s house (#42) and three storage buildings (#43-#45) constructed by the CCC remain at the site.”

CCC homes
CCC-ID Personnel Homes (National Archives Identifier 12468624)

In Danbury, North Carolina is the Hanging Rock State Park Bathhouse (National Archives Identifier 47722290) that “stands on the southeastern edge of a twelve acre lake on a head branch of Cascade Creek in the Sauratown Mountains of Stokes County. The lake and bathhouse are located almost midway between the two principal peaks of the range, Hanging Rock to the east and Moore’s Knob to the northwest. A broad, sandy beach stretches between the bathhouse and the lake. Otherwise the setting is one of dense woodland all around the shore of the lake. The building and its setting embody the ideals of park design that emphasized harmony with the natural landscape through sensitive siting and the use of native building materials and rustic architectural forms.”

“The Hanging Rock State Park Bathhouse is the largest and most distinctive facility constructed in North Carolina by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The building was designed by federal architect Robert S. Ormand to accommodate as many as 1,000 visitors daily to Hanging Rock State Park, established in 1936. The bathhouse is composed of random course ashlar masonry and heavy timber and was completed in 1939. The building is eligible for the National Register . . . as the most prominent example of CCC-constructed “rustic” park facilities in North Carolina . . . Included . . . are the adjacent twelve-acre Hanging Rock Lake and its concrete and stone dam, which were built concurrently with the bathhouse. Together with the bathhouse, these facilities are eligible . . . for their associations with the CCC program in North Carolina, where sixty-six CCC camps operated during the Great Depression, nine of which were involved in park projects.”

“At the end of 1935 there were 66 CCC camps in operation in North Carolina. Of that number, 28 were assigned to forest protection and preservation, 22 to soil erosion control, 9 to various park projects, 3 to military reservations, 3 to Tennessee Valley Authority projects, and 1 to wildlife conservation. The CCC was involved significantly in putting together several North Carolina state parks during its decade of existence. Camp personnel built roads, constructed water supply systems, reduced fire hazards, and performed other duties at Fort Macon State Park, Mount Mitchell State Park, and Morrow Mountain State Park, among others. At no state park was its presence more noticeable, however, than Hanging Rock State Park. The first contingent of CCC workers arrived at Hanging Rock on July 2, 1935, under the supervision of Frank Shore. They immediately began building a telephone line, grading an entrance road, and crushing rock for road surfacing.”

CCC worker
Photograph of a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Man Standing on a Plank on a Tree Trunk with a Drill (National Archives Identifier 299306)

In Dillon, Montana, is the Birch Creek CCC Camp (National Archives Identifier 71975605) “situated on a open sage and grass covered east sloping ridge in the foothills of the Pioneer Mountains in Southwestern Montana. Torrey Mountain, a distinguishing landmark of 11,000 feet is visible to the west of the camp. In 1939, the Birch Creek CCC Camp consisted of fifteen permanent buildings, representing a non-intrusive architecture and a uniformity of style . . . The Birch Creek CCC Camp represented a typical permanent camp constructed in Montana.”

“The Civilian Conservation Corps was an integral component of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal to combat the economic depression of the 1930’s. The CCC employed millions of men for a period of over nine years and engaged them to work on various projects in forestry, conservation, park improvements and others. Of the over 61 CCC camps once located in Montana during the 1930’s, only a very few remain. The Birch Creek CCC Camp F-60 exemplifies the permanent camps established in Montana in the 1930’s. With its unpretentious architecture, the Birch Creek CCC Camp retains its integrity in setting, location, design, materials, and character as well as representing a unique period of the history of the United States.”

“The Fort Missoula District in Montana was created in April, 1933 with the organization of the first Civilian Conservation Corps Company. There were 61 camps, both permanent and temporary, established in Montana during the 1930’s. More than 25,600 men from the State were enrolled, with over 40,800 men enrolled within Montana. The CCC companies were assigned to various work projects under the following agencies: 30 under Forest Service, 13 under the National Park Service, 4 under the State Forest Service, 2 under the Soil Conservation Service, 3 under State Park Service, 8 under the Division of Grazing, and 1 under the Fish and Game Service.”

“In Southwestern Montana, there yere 2 temporary reforestation camps in 1933. Construction on the Birch Creek CCC Camp commenced on April 25, 1935. By May 9, 1935, a company of 200 CCC workers were established at the Birch Creek Camp. Under the direction of the Forest Service, extensive projects were undertaken, including new road construction and reconstruction in the area, camp ground development, fire control, surveying, search and rescue, and the construction of telephone lines. In addition, the Birch Creek Camp emphasized educational programs for the resident young men. The Birch Creek CCC Camp functioned as a viable component of the Civilian Conservation Corps program from 1935 to 1941. As one of the few remaining camps in Montana today, the Birch CCC Camp has retained a high degree of historic integrity.”

CCC worker reading CCC newspaper
Enrollee Reading “Happy Days”, The CCC Newspaper (National Archives Identifier 32204459)

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring records from the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and National Historic Landmarks Program Records, 2013 – 2017 (National Archives ID 20812721), a series within Record Group 79: Records of the National Park Service.

One thought on “Records about the Civilian Conservation Corps in the National Register of Historic Places

  1. My father spent time in the CCC’s in Washington State Olympic Mountains. I have his camp’s newsletters. He wrote the sports section. Following a long wait, I received his CCC records from the National Archives. They helped fill a small gap in the family memoir I’m writing.

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