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Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) North Carolina

By Allison Kroeger, USDA NRCS Intern

During the 1930s, times were particularly rough in the United States. Because of the crash of the stock market, which caused the Great Depression, Americans and the economy were struggling. Substantial changes had to be put into place to fix the major problems of that era. President Franklin Roosevelt, elected in 1932, vowed to fix these problems and to help the “forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.” His goal was to preserve the American pride; therefore, he concentrated to make jobs available and create jobs for the American people.

The New Deal actualized Roosevelt’s aspirations. The plan influenced the American Labor Movement, the Works Progress Administration, National Recovery Administration and numerous other programs. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was another beneficial program created from the New Deal. Roosevelt declared the CCC in 1933 to “relieve the acute condition of widespread distress and unemployment existing in the United States, provide for the restoration of the country's depleted natural resources, and advance an orderly program of useful public works."

CCC camps were organized like a military style camp. The men lived in large tents that could sleep up to 50 people. Army or Army Reserves Officers stayed next to the tents to supervise the typically 200 men. There were several other buildings nearby including: a shower house, outhouse, mess hall, hospital and infirmary, administrative unit, garage and shop.

Unemployed and unmarried men, ages 18 to 25, volunteered to work in a CCC camp for six months at a time. They were paid $35.00 a month, but $25.00 of it went to their parents. With this plan, the men benefited because they had a job, they could have a balanced life, parents received extra money to help pay their bills, the economy began to grow again, jobs were created and America was advancing beyond the depression. The integration of military life helped the men stay in line and gain responsibility. The employees also had the opportunity to play sports, go to the library and take classes to contribute to their personal lives.

The men helped to improve structures, transportation, erosion control, flood control, forest culture, forest protection, landscape and recreation, range and wildlife all over the country. Nevertheless, there was enough labor to give to men who wanted to work. They built gullies and started soil-erosion camps. The Soil Erosion Service (SES) and the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), now the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), formed as a result of the CCC. Hugh Hammond Bennett, the father of NRCS, realized the importance of NRCS cooperating with the CCC and went as far to say “500 CCC camps have been assigned to the organization to help meet the tremendous demands now being made on the Service.”

In North Carolina, the men in CCC help to build the Blue Ridge Parkway by planting trees to build a forest, building bridges and roads, restoring watersheds, and constructing and revitalizing parks and recreation. Today, the Blue Ridge Parkway is still a staple of North Carolina that North Carolinians and visitors can enjoy at any time of the year.

The CCC camps influenced and benefited people in the 30s as well as people today. There are memorials, state parks, museums, organizations and websites devoted to preserving the memory of the CCC.

 

Map Of United States and locations of CCC Camps between 1934-1942

Construction of Blue Ridge Parkway by CCC Workers