Civilian Conservation Corps
C.C.C. Started in 1933
Franklin D. Roosevelt became President in 1933, and immediately sent to Congress an ambitious legislative package designed to get the country back on its feet.
In FDR’s program was the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public works program, which put otherwise unemployed young men to work in the field of conservation.
Organized into military like companies with army officers in command, the C.C.C. went to work on public lands across the nation to reclaim and further develop our natural resources. The decade, 1933-1943, was a critical period in American history. The C.C.C. played a big part in bringing our country and its people back to normal during difficult times.
Billions of trees were planted, millions of acres of land were reclaimed, and parks, bridges, roads, dams and fire trails were built. Many of these projects are still much in evidence today.
Just to name a few, we have our own Catoctin Mountain State Park, Gambrill State Park, Washington Monument State Park, and Fort Frederick.
The C.C.C. took millions of unemployed young men off the streets, gave them hope, and helped them to be self-supporting. It also built self-respect and taught them to be good citizens. For this they received basic pay of $30 a month. Most of the pay was sent to their families at home to help sustain them in the depression months and years.
On May 27, 1933, the first group of young men to leave Hagerstown for the C.C.C. included Frank Trite, Archie Stevens, Paul White, George Sigler, Harold Garmong, Alfred Swisher, Theadore Craft, Irbin Davis, Harold (Curly Gilbert) Morris, Earl (Possum) Shank, and Earl Selby.
According to Selby, “The group departed from Hagerstown on Western Maryland Railway passenger train No. 6. I later became a fireman on this same train, and engineer on the Western Maryland, from which I retired on December 31, 1975, after 40 years of service.
“Our C.C.C. group from Hagerstown
was stationed at Holabird Quartermaster Depot in Baltimore from May 27, 1933, until June 2, 1933, for conditioning and to be issued clothing.
“From June 3, 1933, until August 28, 1933, we were stationed at Camp Ritchie, former Maryland National Guard Training Center (now Fort Ritchie) for camp, road building, and forestry duties.
“On August 29, 1933, a camp was established at Little Orleans, Maryland, for road building and forestry work. This camp was located on Little Orleans Road at Mountain Road in Allegany County.
“I was discharged on March 31, 1934, to accept a job as a fireman on the Western Maryland Railroad.”
“In Retrospect” is courtesy of the Maryland Cracker Barrel magazine, the Sentinel of Washington County’s Heritage. Since June 1971, the quarterly publication has focused on local history and may be purchased at any of the more than 30 sites in Maryland and Pennsylvania or by subscription. Subscriptions ($17 annually) may be obtained by calling 301-582-3885 or writing to: Maryland Cracker Barrel, 7749 Fairplay Road, Boonsboro, MD 21713.