A few weeks ago, while traveling the “back way” to the highway, I noticed the sign shown at the right. It wasn’t open the day I drove past, but I knew that I had to visit. After the short hike to Soapstone Mountain, my daughter and I toured the museum.
The CCC operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States, providing jobs and what had to be a life-changing experience for unemployed, unmarried young men. The program was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and it provided manual labor jobs in support of the conservation and development of natural resources on federal, state and local government land.
Young men volunteered and served from six months up to two years. They worked up to 40 hours a week (sometimes more) for which they were paid $30 a month ($22–25 had to be sent home to their family). They also received shelter, food, clothing, and medical care. Eventually, the CCC would employ about 5% of the male population in the U.S.
Some young men actually built the shelter they received. If they were assigned to a new camp, they started out in tents, and gradually built the camp’s housing, administrative buildings and workshops. We are still enjoying the fruits of their hard labor, as we visit and camp in our National Parks and as we travel the many scenic roads and hiking trails that crisscross this enormous country.
Some noteworthy people who were involved with the Corps include:
- Alvin C. York, (Sgt York) – A project superintendent
- Raymond Burr – Enrollee, Actor
- Archie Moore – Enrollee, Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World
- Robert Mitchum – Enrollee, actor
- Chuck Yeager – Enrollee, Test pilot
- Stan Musial – Enrollee, Professional baseball player
- Walter Matthau – Enrollee, Actor
You can find tons of information about the CCC. If you’re interested, I’ve include a few of the more interesting links I found while researching this post, at the end. Since I have so many pictures to share, I thought I would tell the rest of this story through the captions. I’ve organized the photos into several galleries. Feel free to pick and choose.
The museum – Located in a maintenance area of Connecticut’s Shenipsit State Forest.
Projects of the Corps – In this area, the work included trail-blazing, forest fire prevention and fire-fighting duty and the installation of telephone lines.
Trades and skills – Including carpentry, blacksmithing, tool making and maintenance and road clearing and heavy construction.
Camps in CT – This is the only remaining camp building in the state, but there were many camps like this in Connecticut.
Artwork – Faith pointed out that the agencies of The New Deal, including the CCC, employed artists and photographers to document the success of the program. One famous photographer was Walker Evans, whose experience with the New Deal photography seemed to have influenced his other work.
Life at camp – The men worked hard, learned a lot, but had some leisure time and a few comforts of home. Sadly, the camps also echoed the racial attitudes of the time.