The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Adirondacks
Adirondack Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: History, Memories and Legacy of the CCC By Marty Podskoch
Marty Podskoch, the author of books on fire towers in the Adirondacks and the Catskills, has turned his attention to the Civilian Conservation Corps in the Adirondacks.
His Adirondack Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: History, Memories and Legacy of the CCC was published earlier this summer.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public works program that operated from 1933 to 1942, as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. It targeted single men, 18-25 years old, and veterans in relief of families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression. The program provided unskilled manual labor to environmental conservation and to development of natural resources in rural lands.
The US Army supervised the camps, which had 200 men each. The earliest camps were set up in these Adirondack towns and counties: Arietta and Speculator (Hamilton); Bolton Landing (Warren); Tahawus, Newcomb, Schroon River and Port Henry (Essex); Wanakena and Benson Mines (St. Lawrence); Paul Smiths, Goldsmiths, Tupper Lake, Lake Placid, and Fish Creek Pond (Franklin). There were eventually 26 camps in the Adirondacks.
Enrollees signed up for 6 months and worked a 40-hour week for $30 per month. The government sent $25 to the enrollee’s family and the enrollee received $5. The young men received good food, uniforms, and medical care. At first they lived in tents; later they lived in wooden buildings. These young men and war veterans were able to help their families and develop a sense of worth.
In the Adirondacks enrollees built trails, roads, campsites and dams, stocked fish, built and maintained fire towers, observers cabins and telephone lines, fought fires and planted millions of trees. The CCC disbanded in 1942 due to the need for men in World War II.
Nationwide, enrollees planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 parks nationwide, updated forest fire fighting methods and built a network of service buildings and public roadways. In nine years, 2.5 million young men participated in restoring public appreciation of the outdoors.
In 2006 Marty Podskoch turned from chronicling the history of fire towers in the Adirondacks to gathering information on the CCC camps in the Adirondacks. Over the next five years he traveled to towns in and around the Adirondacks and gave presentations on the CCC camps. CCC alumni, their families, and friends shared their stories and pictures.
Adirondack Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: History, Memories and Legacy of the CCC is now available through Trees, the Bolton Landing book store.