Camp staff: Standing (l-r): H.S. Linden, O.A. Stanley & H.M. Ford, all foreman. Seated (l-r): CPT Charles Craig, commanding officer, H.M. Dodds, project superintendent; LT Oliver Harvey, second in command; LT Wilbur Slaughter, medical officer.
President Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933 to ease unemployment and conserve the nation’s natural resources. The CCC was open to any unmarried male between the ages of 18 and 25; while in the CCC they were paid $30 per month and were provided uniforms, shelter and food. Almost all CCC enrollees sent $25 of their monthly pay home to their families.
The CCC was originally limited to an enrollment of 250,000, but it proved so effective that authorized enrollment was increased in 1935 to 600,000. With the exception of veterans, applicants were selected by the Labor Department and certified to the War Department for enrollment. The Veteran’s Administration selected and certified the 80,000 war veterans who participated. The War Department was responsible for the enrollment, feeding, clothing and care of the men as well as for the construction and operation of the camps. The Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior selected and supervised the projects that the CCC accomplished.
During its history, the CCC employed over 1,500,000 young men in almost three thousand camps, and spent over $750,000,000. Of that, over $467,000,000 was spent on food, construction material and other supplies needed to operate the camps. This was an enormous boost to communities mired in the Great Depression.
The CCC planted almost 300 million trees, constructed thousands of miles of roads and fire breaks, built over 23,000 buildings and improved flood and erosion control for millions of acres of land. Although these projects were important, perhaps the most beneficial aspect of the CCC was the improvement made in the participants. While in the CCC they gained confidence and developed a sense of self-worth and an understanding of what it means to work together with others. All of this would serve the nation well in WWII.
* Information and photographs from 2010 tour of Arkansas National Guard Museum.