Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps
Harrisburg, Pa. - This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office, he proposed a series of programs to alleviate the pressures of unemployment during the Great Depression. One of those programs, the Emergency Conservation Work which later became known as the Civilian Conservation Corps, provided jobs for 194,500 Pennsylvanians over the course of its history from 1933 to 1942.
The U.S. army ran the Civilian Conservation Corps camps however local tradesmen usually led the work. A typical day started at 6 a.m. with breakfast at 6:30 a.m. The young men left camp at 7:15 with all of the tools needed for work that day and returned at 4 p.m. for the flag lowering ceremony and dinner. They men received three meals per day, uniforms, and $30 a month. Most of their pay, $25, was sent back to their families. The Civilian Conservation Corps helped to get Americans out of bread lines and into stable work.
Pennsylvania had the second highest number of Civilian Conservation Corps camps in the nation, second only to California. Within the first year Pennsylvania had 104 camps, 92 of them in state parks and forests. The CCC workers, unmarried men between the ages of 18-25, created a lasting legacy throughout the Pennsylvania state park and forest system. The young men built roads and structures, fought forest fires, planted trees and created many state parks. Pennsylvania state park visitors can still view and utilize many of the rustic cabins, pavilions, and dams built by the CCC.
The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation celebrates the positive impact of the Civilian Conservation Corps by highlighting them in the Foundation newsletter three times a year. John Eastlake, Foundation CCC historian and author, has written stories about education, art, and recreation involving the CCC. To read more about the CCC view the newsletter archives and search for “CCC Reflections” at www.paparksandforests.org
Founded in 1999, the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation supports 120 state parks and 2.2 million acres of forest by coordinating volunteers, activities and donations through its 35 chapters. The nonprofit promotes outdoor recreation, healthier lifestyles and environmental education.