Civilian Conservation Corps *

     The 1932 Presidential election was more a cry for help from a desperate people near panic as it was an election in a "landslide" vote, the nation turned to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democratic party searching for an end to the rampant unemployment and economic chaos that gripped the country. They weren't disappointed. Accepting the Presidential nomination on July 1, 1932, New York Governor Roosevelt planned a fight against soil erosion and declining timber resources, utilizing the unemployed of large urban areas.

     The President wasted no time: He called the 73rd Congress into Emergency Session on March 9, 1933, to hear and authorize his program. He proposed to recruit thousands of unemployed young men, enroll them in a peacetime army, and send them into battle against destruction and erosion of our natural resources. Before it was over, over three million young men engaged in a massive salvage operation, the most popular experiment of the New Deal.

     Senate Bill 5.598 was introduced in March 27, was through both houses of Congress on the President's desk to be signed on March 31, 1933. The first enrollee in the CCC was on April 7, 1932 and thus the Civilian Conservation Corp had begun.

     The administration of the CCC was unprecedented. The same Executive Order that authorized the program and appointed Fechner also established an Advisory Council. Composed of representatives of the Secretaries of War, Labor, and Agriculture and Interior, the Council served for the duration. It had no book of rules. There were none. Never before had there been an agency like the CCC. It was an experiment in top-level management designed to prevent red tape from strangling the newborn agency. Fechner, and later James McEntee, would have their differences with the Council, but unquestionably, each contributed greatly to the success of the CCC.

     Young men flocked to enroll. A poll of Republicans supported it by 67 percent, and another 95 percent of Californians were for it. Colonel McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, and an implacable hater of Roosevelt, gave the CCC his support. The Soviet Union praised the program…perhaps it saw a touch of socialism. A Chicago judge thought the CCC was largely responsible for a 55 percent reduction in crime by the young men of that day.

     There were 7,153,000 enrollee man-days expended on other related conservation activities. These included protection of range for the Grazing Service, protecting the natural habitats of wildlife, stream improvement, restocking of fish and building small dams for water conservation. Eighty-three camps in 15 western states were assigned 45 projects of this nature.

     Pearl Harbor had shaken the country to its very core, and it soon became obvious that, in a national dedicated to war, any federal project not directly associated with the war effort was in trouble. The joint committee of Congress authorized by the 1941-42 appropriations bill was in session investigating all federal agencies to determine which ones, if any, were essential to the war effort. The CCC, no exception, came under review late in 1941. The findings of the committee was a surprise to no one. The major report recommended the Civilian Conservation Corps be abolished by July 1, 1942.

Harrison County, WV CCC Camp

      Camp Harrison was located in the southeast corner of Harrison County, near State Route 20. The CCC camp was operated on donated lands behind the historic, Quiet Dell Schoolhouse. The camp was the home of CCC Company 2592, SCS-7 and was operational from July, 1935 until Fall 1937. As a SCS-sponsored CCC company, the primary mission was soil conservation and erosion control on local farms. The CCC men also built or repaired local small bridges, improved roadside berm/shoulders and driveway accesses throughout the county. Teams of CCC enrollees would slope the farm lands to reduce speed of rainfall runoff and thus help reduce erosion.

     The local CCC Museum is located in the old Quite Dell Schoolhouse. The Museum is open Mon thru Sat, 10am to 5pm; Sun, 1pm to 5pm; closed on school holidays and during inclement weather.

Excerpts from The Civilian Conservation Corp Alumni web site:

Go to West Virginia CCC Museum.
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