Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy
"Passing the Legacy to Future Generations"  

2009 Vol. 33, Issue 6, Nov/Dec

On this page:  

A Lasting Memory, Co. 717 Side Lake.  Contributed by Bernard "Ben" Berke
Interstate Park WI Bison Site & Legacy of the CCC in Wisconsin.  Contributed by Marlin Hawley
Little Remains of CCC Camp at Havilah, CA - By Mark L. Howe, Kern River Ranger District Sequoia NF
Remembrance:  Camp Cusino, Co. 689 - Contributed by ?
Returning to the Old Camp, Co. 411 - Smokemont.  Contributed by Charles Fletcher
Tales from Camp 704, MN.  By Ed Benysek
Wyoming Statue Dedication.  Contributed by Linda Fabian.

CCC Legacy Journal: November-December 2009, Vol. 33, Issue 6

A Lasting Memory - Co. 717 Side Lake 

By: Bernard "Ben" Berke

The winter of “35-36” was a rough one in northern Minnesota. Lots of snow. Bitter cold. Life at the CCC Camp– 717 at Side Lake, 25 miles north of Chishom, MN this particularly cold Saturday night, went on as usual. A couple of truckloads of boys went into town to chase girls and/or other mischief of opportunity—as was the wont of healthy, testosterone-driven young men far from home.

Others were in their barracks huddled around glowing 55 gallon oil drum wood stoves, regaling each other with exaggerated tales of romance and other mischief. Always, under the surface was a yearning for more of the same.

Such was the scene in Barracks 12 this particularly cold Saturday night. In town was a barracks mate, Hank — a mellow laid back type. He was the oldest of us at 24. His thing was to go to town, get oiled to a mellow glow, come back and go to bed.

When—bingo. Release opportunity burst in upon us! One of the boys around the stove produce a condom. Immediately a fantastic use came to mind. Lets fill it with water and put it in Hank’s bunk! A sudden burst of cold water should produce an interesting result when he breaks it.

Barracks light were turned off at ten. Hank’s truck pulled in and Hank flowed in gently humming a song and eased into bed without breaking it. Big disappointment!

Soon, another truckload pulled in. These boys had a snowshoe rabbit they had caught in a store’s doorway in Hibbing. Again, opportunity beckoned. Slip it in the bed with Hand. There, it was nice and warm. The rabbit snuggled in and went to sleep. Again it had not broken. Big Disappointment!

So, disappointingly, the night went on with Hank and the rabbit slowly warming the water in the condom. Little did we suspect the final scene now set to happen.

Sunday morning I was sitting on the edge of my bunk, facing Hank’s upper bunk, when all hell broke loose. There was a scream as the air was filled with a comforter, two blankets, a bed sheet, a broken condom, a sheet of water, Hank and a frantically scrabbling rabbit.

In the process of waking up Hank had rolled over onto the rabbit. The rabbit, now fighting for his life, struggled furiously, scratching Hank’s stomach, breaking the condom and drenching Hank with now warm water.

Thinking that the water was blood and that he was being disemboweled by some wild beast in from the woods, Hank screamed and, with a super-human burst of strength, exploded out of the bunk!

Needless to say he was cold sober when he hit the floor. Then, seeing the picture and that he hadn’t had a near-death experience, he relaxed and laughed with the rest of us.

Over the years this memory has returned countless times. It always produces a GOOD laugh. It is so typical of the fun part of barracks life and of the unexpected experiences the release of youthful energy so often produced. To this day I miss it.

So, to Hank, and all the CCCs, including the boys gathered around the stove in Barracks 12 that cold January night in 1936, wherever you are, I say from the bottom of my heart,

Thanks for the memory!


CCC Legacy Journal:  November / December 2009, Vol. 33, Issue 6

The Interstate Park Bison Site and the Legacy of the CCC in Wisconsin   

By  Wisconsin Historical Society - Author Marlin Hawley, Museum Archaeology Program 

I am not of the CCC generation; my interest in the CCC is in its impact, along with that of other New Deal era work relief programs, on American archaeology. Historians Paul Fagette, in Digging for Dollars, and Edward Lyon, in A New Deal for Southeastern Archaeology, have both highlighted the effects, both good and bad, that New Deal funding had on the development of American archaeology in the mid-and late-1930s into the early 1940s. Most work relief funding was through the WPA, though CWA, FERA and other sources were used to survey for sites, excavate and analyze collections, and produce a variety of reports on the work. Sometimes, sadly, funding was never assured and by the early 1940s with World War II looming, many relief programs shifted their goals to war preparedness activities on very short notice. Many collections were shelved and have yet to be analyzed. Because the American South offered warm winters and also had high levels of unemployment, the largest percentage of money going toward archaeological activities was in the South. As important as was the work in the South, significant work was also conducted in other parts of the United States.

Archaeological work constituted a rather minor element of the CCC’s mission, which was of course heavily oriented toward conservation activities. Indeed, the CCC had a significant impact on conservation activities in Wisconsin, where some 90,000 young men were involved in the organization. These men were deployed in several dozen camps active through the early 1940s. In addition to conservation work, CCC workers were also involved in occasional archaeological projects, including in Wisconsin where the CCC put the finishing touches on the restoration of badly looted, 1000 year old, Native American mounds on the grounds of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum in Madison and probably at Devil’s Lake, as well. The largest archaeological project conducted by the CCC in the state, however, was at Interstate Park in Polk County, northwestern Wisconsin. Here in the fall of 1936 and summer of 1937, men from Camp Interstate (Camp #633), based outside of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, excavated a deposit—referred to as a “bone bed”—consisting mostly of the bones of an extinct species of bison.  There are some elk and deer bones, too.  These were entombed in peat at the edge of an old extension of Lake of the Dalles or possibly a pond that formerly lay close to the lake. For the past several years, Matthew G. Hill (Iowa State University), Chris D. Widga (Illinois State Museum) and I have been reinvestigating the site, studying the old collections and putting together as complete a picture of the excavations as possible from the scattered documentation.

Camp Interstate was established in November 1935 and its men were involved in constructing roads, trails, shelter houses and other facilities still lacking in the park, as well as cleaning out numerous glacial “potholes” worn in the bedrock. The work was administered by the National Park Service (NPS) for the Wisconsin Conservation Department. The park is the oldest in Wisconsin and straddles the picturesque Dalles of the St. Croix, with a unit on the Minnesota side of the river as well. Despite the fact that it was state’s oldest park, it remained undeveloped, limiting its attraction as a tourism destination.

In mid-August 1936 CCC workers in Interstate Park were digging a pipe trench through a marshy area and encountered large animal bones. As more of these were found, camp superintendent Alonzo W. Pond had one of his staff, Howard S. Kunsman, take a few over to the University of Minnesota, where zoologists recognized them as bison, possibly of the extinct species Bison occidentalis. After delays in securing permission to investigate the bone bed, work resumed in late September. Shortly, three things happened: a large, bi-pointed, hammered copper tool referred to as a “pike” was found near the bones; two small spearheads were found in amongst the bones; and enough of a skull and horn core was found to make a positive identification on the species. It was Bison occidentalis. This was important, as within the past 10 years or so bones of this species had been found with distinctive chipped stone spearheads in the American Southwest in geological settings suggesting considerable age; as old as 10,000 years and, some thought, maybe much older.  Despite a growing acceptance of the validity of the association of these stone tools and extinct bison through the 1930s, at the time of the Interstate Park Bison site excavations a great deal of controversy still attended any such find. Even so, the addition of a copper tool and small spearheads was something new. The CCC had unwittingly discovered one of the most enigmatic associations yet of artifacts and a vanished species.

My colleagues have studied the bones, all 1300 of them, in great detail, while I have worked to construct a detailed accounting of the excavations, which has proved fascinating. From the day that the copper pike was found, controversy attended almost every move at the site, deep into the winter of 1936—the crew was obliged to mount a tent over the excavation and work inside with a barrel stove blazing all day—and into the next summer when the excavation went into a second season. To start, there was disagreement between Pond, a trained archaeologist, and the NPS on how to proceed. (Pond resigned in October 1936 over a disagreement with the NPS, though one not involving the bone bed excavation.) Then, too, when NPS geologist C.L. Cooper presented papers on the site at two conferences, including one involving many of the country’s top specialists in what was then called the “Early Man problem,” his report was met with extreme skepticism. Native American copper working was still generally thought of as a relatively recent phenomenon (that is, a few hundred or maybe a thousand years old) and few could accept that the association of copper tool and an extinct species was legitimate.

Throughout the course of our re-study of the site, we have come to have a deep appreciation for the amazing work done by the CCC “boys” of Camp #633, often under truly adverse conditions. To give a few examples, winter temperatures plunged to as low as -40ºF, necessitating working inside a heated canvas tent. On top of that, the excavation was in a marshy area and the pit filled with water every night, requiring almost constant pumping. Additionally, the camp was quarantined in May 1937 due to an outbreak of scarlet fever. Yet, despite the regrettable loss of the two spearheads, the collections that remain are in great condition. In fact, the assemblage of bison bones (there are also some elk and deer bones present) is the largest such in the eastern United States. While we know that the site was not the kill/butchery site it was thought to be by some involved in the work, the collection of bones (at the Milwaukee Public Museum, where a bull bison constructed from some of the bones is still on display) and the copper pike (Wisconsin Historical Society) are nonetheless shedding new light on the post-glacial settlement of the region (we know now, too, the site dates around 7500 years ago). Ultimately, the site’s collections are an important reminder of the hard work and dedication of the CCC and also highlight its little known role in archaeological discovery in the upper Midwest.

Thanks to the Wisconsin Historical Society for sharing the CCC heritage of Wisconsin.


CCC Legacy Journal:  Vol. 33, Issue 6- November December 2009

Little Remains of CCC Camp at Havilah, CA

by Mark L. Howe, Archeologist, Kern River Ranger District, Sequoia National Forest

The Sequoia National Forest is a land of prehistoric and historic sites in the western portion of Kern County.  The forest is full of history of the Sierra Nevada and our different cultures from before written time.  

The Forest Service, by law, is to conduct an archeological reconnaissance (Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act) of project areas to examine if prehistoric and historic resources are present.  What this reconnaissance does is determine whether impact of projects will damage or destroy these irreplaceable resources and what can be done to preserve them if possible.  Our job as archeologists on the Piute Grazing project was to examine if cattle grazing in this area of the forest will impact archeological resources and to record them as found. One important historic site to American History from the 1930s that was in this project is the Havilah Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) camp location.

This camp was established in 1933/34 in the Havilah area on Forest Service land. The CCC camp location was coordinated with Frank Cunningham (Forest Supervisor) to establish a camp near Havilah. Cunningham’s official correspondence with a F. G. Munzer from Bakersfield states that, “In order to handle 200 men from one camp, it is necessary for us to place them where there is ample water, camping room ... and work within a reasonable distance. My present thought is to establish one camp at Havilah.”

The camp was established with orders to have an 80’ warehouse, a guard station, ranger station and other various buildings built. We have a list from July 13, 1935 of individuals who worked in the Havilah and Bodfish camps or area. This list is in our documents file and can be accessed by writing to the Sequoia National Forest for a copy.

Today the only surviving structure is the warehouse which is used as the garage both for fire engine 45 and the Breckenridge hotshot crew at Havilah. Across the road and to the south of this standing structure we found the remains of the original CCC camp built during the 1930’s.

The camp is no longer there but the remains of foundations, depressions, and piping with artifacts still are. We set about recording these and came across a total of 25 different features. These consisted of latrines, root cellars, foundations of buildings with steps, walls and pits. One of our structures is the Dining Hall/Recreation Hall. This has a complete side stair case of rock and cement with retaining wall on the east side.

An entrance of similar dimension is on the north side with the remnants of a main fire place in background and smaller interior side fireplace on the right. These foundations are interesting and unique for they were made to stand the test of time as we see here.

Another structure we called the Administration Hall has a large three step entrance
way. Both of these structures and others have vanished except for these low lying stairways and sidewall foundations.  These foundations were all under about 1 inch of dirt with numerous bushes and trees growing in and around them. A “sidewalk” from the Dining Hall north to the Administration Building is composed of local rock in a vertical pattern.

One can walk down this area and not even notice this feature today due to overgrowth of grasses and brush. The last structure to mention out of the numerous features is the boiler room. This is a flat concrete foundation with side walls of broken granite spread out on the sides. Walls of milled wood were originally installed as confirmed by milled wood we found along the sides. The foundation has a central drain and boiler foundation in the middle portion of the structure. An interesting note; we found inscriptions, prints and paint on the cement after 75 years.

Recently the son of Doyle Henderson (Ranger at Havilah in 1935) visited the fire station and talked to the fire crew there. He left an email address but it bounces back and anyone who reads this story with information on contacting him would be appreciated.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the CCC and further information on the CCC can be found by emailing Joan Sharpe, President — CCC Legacy. I hope that we continue to preserve the American Heritage of our history and prehistory by recording these resources before they are gone forever. Preservation of these historic artifacts and structures from the CCC days are important for our understanding the history of Kern County and the areas we call home. 


CCC Legacy Journal: November- December 2009, Vol. 33, Issue 6


Beer, Beer for 689

Bring whisky, bring wine

Do not let a sober CCCer in?

That may be called the theme song for camp Cusino at Shingleton Michigan, Despite the alcoholic content of that song there were no wild, wild parties there. At least not during the two years of 1938-39 that I was enrolled in that company. That was five years after Jeffery Schatzer’s father was there*, but the camp work there was still game research. The biggest part of that was finding how much those deer and the one moose ate and what they most like to eat.

The system to find out was WIW0— weigh in on the way in and weigh out on the way out. I never did read about any knowledge or conclusion about all that study. I just did the work. After my work was done I just thought about having fun.

Some of that game research had a personal touch. Those deer in pens became very relaxed in the company of humans. A deer was let out of the pen and given the freedom to roam. A man was given a pad, a pencil and a watch if he did not have one. His job was like being a reporter for a newspaper. For a few days, he watched the deer and wrote down what the deer ate, when and how long. He followed the deer. He was teased about the deer following him. The animal must have followed him at the end of the day to go back into the pen to be available to go out the next day. Being a reporter for the life of a deer must have been the most unique job a man has ever had.

Another part of that game research was to take a census of deer in a selected square mile of forest. That was accomplished by placing men along the boundary line of a selected site. Three sides were stationary. The men did not move. The fourth sid3e had a line of moving men (and hollering as they advanced) towards the closed end of the square mile. Each man would report any deer on his right which was chased out of the selected square mile. That was a deer which passed between the next man on his right. Now, I sure liked taking part in that census. It was good for half a day of easy work.

And, now the easy to real hard work. Close by the camp was a saw mill which from time to time did some log sawing. Once the conservation department ordered some lumber. That lumber was not ordinary lumber. Planks 12 x 2 x 16 was sawed—10 inches wide, 2 inches thick and 16 feet long. They sure were heavy. I know because I lifted one end of those planks. I have forgotten the name of the man at the other end of the plank but I know he must have been tired, maybe not as much as me. Why I was selected I do not know. After all, I was one of the smaller men in that company. That was the hardest work I have ever done during the 94 years of my life. Maybe those two days of hard work made me tough enough to make it this long.

And, now (as I often say), I go from the toughest to the longest. Some time during the summer of 1939, I took a short vacation from Shingleton to Escanaba by train and from there to the city of Milwaukee by hitchhiking. That was a cheap and dependable way of traveling in those bygone days. One the way back there was one night of hitch hiking that was all hiking and no hitching. The highway map showed a distance of 29 miles from Sheboygan to Montiwac. When I arrived in Manitowac I splurged and took a hotel room. That has been the longest I ever walked at one time. But I survived those two times. They give me something to brag about to the younger generation.

There was a young 17 year-old, really only a boy, who was going into the army, the Salvation Army. But, he had enrolled in the CCC for a least a six month period. He was a good boy but not tough enough, or at least his ears were not able to take in all the swearing in the conversation. He deserted and got a dishonorable discharge. He had prayed about it and he said his conscience was clean. In the years since, I have come to regret not talking to him to persuade him to stay. Myself, I seldom uttered a swear word, maybe once a week. At least one percent (he and I) did not swear. I could have been good company for him. Maybe we could have started a Bible study course. Maybe even converted somebody. That is one time I minded my own business and I have regretted doing so.

On one Sunday in December my last month of being a CCC boy (I was 24), I followed my favorite past time which was wandering through the woods usually alone. This time I went into the Seney Game Refuge. I crossed into it going under the wire that marked the refuge boundary. After a few hours of happy unconcerned wandering, I decided to return to camp. In trying to figure which direction to go I realized I was lost.

The first time I was ever lost. Thick clouds covered the sun. The small trees and brush where I was had no moss on their north side like big trees have. So I sat down to figure out which way to go. I used my computer (the on between my ears). After a long while, I decided on which way to go. It turned out to be the right way. It lead to a road that went by the camp. When I reached camp the stars were shining and everyone was asleep.

I had told no one I was going into the woods. People may have assumed I had deserted. They would not have known where to look. Maybe I would be there yet and I would never have gotten to write about Camp Cusino’s good old days.

* An article by Jeffery Schatzer was published in the September / October Journal, Page 5—”Pride in the Past”


CCC Legacy Journal: November-December 2009, Vol. 33, Issue 6

Returning to the Old Camp, Co. 411 - Smokemont

By Charles Fletcher

I was setting at my computer writing for a future book when the phone rang. I picked it up and a voice that I didn’t recognize said, 

   “Charles, this is Clarence  Allison.  I am planning to visit the old 411 CCC camp site this week end. Want to meet me at the gate where the road to the camp leaves the main road?”

   “I could meet you on Saturday about 10 AM. You know, it’s been sixty eight years since I left  the CCCs. I would guess that the camp is full of ghosts by now. Could be spooks hanging around just waiting for someone like you and me to come back.” I said.

   “I don’t think so. I stopped by for a few minutes about a year ago. Didn’t stay long. The foundations are still there and the rock wall in front of the barracks is still standing. I’ll meet you at the gate at 10:00 next Saturday morning. Bring a couple of sandwiches and something to drink and we will stay all day. Between the two of us we should remember where all the buildings were. I’m sure it will bring back a lot of memories along with some stories of what happened nearly seventy years ago.  Good bye, see you Saturday morning.”

   CCC  Camp 411 at Smokemont  was located near the Cherokee Indian Reservation in the Smokey Mountain National Park  in North Carolina. 

   Clarence was one of the cooks at this camp. He was only sixteen years old when he reported for duty. They would ask how old you were.  Whatever you told them, was your age. Your age was never checked . Most of the young men didn’t have a birth certificate. They were born at home with a midwife acting as the doctor. Their birth was recorded in the family Bible.  

   When I arrived at the gate across the road leading to the abandon CCC camp Clarence was waiting for me. I parked off Highway 411 beside Clarence.  

   “Do you think we can walk the half mile to where the camp was?” I said to Clarence.  “We are not as young now as we were seventy years ago.  We are  old men now, you being eighty one and me eighty seven. May have to rest a couple of times along the way.”

   The first foundation we came to was where the mess hall was located. This was Clarence's work place.

   “Ate many a good meal in the building that was on that foundation.” I said to Clarence, “Brings back lots of memories.”

   “Sure does,” Clarence said, “I learned to drive a truck behind the mess hall. One of the truck drivers really loved milk. He would drink all he could get and want more. I would sneak bottles of milk out of the refrigerator for him and in return he would leave his truck behind the mess hall for me to practice my driving.”

   “Do you remember the time that John Forgy caught the bear in back of the mess hall?” I asked Clarence.  

  “Sure do, John was always doing crazy things. I don’t know how he caught that bear.”

   I piped up and said, “I do.  You remember that John was the night watchman and he slept most of the day. He would come to the mess hall when he woke in the evening and you would feed him. You remember how the bears were always in the garbage cans searching for food. Well---this one evening when John came to the mess hall he noticed a big cub bear all the way in one of the garbage cans. John sneaked up behind the can with the cub inside, picked up a lid, slammed it on the can, turned it up and sat on the top. He had caught himself a bear.  John was hollering—Go get the Captain—Go get the Captain!”

   Someone got word to the Captain and he came to where John was setting on the garbage can.

   “What do you want?” the Captain asked. 

   “Captain—I’ve got a bear in this can. You shoot him with your pistol, kill him and we’ll have a

bear dinner.”

   “You get your butt off that can and let that bear go. If I killed that bear we would both be sent to prison.” responded the Captain.

We did other things trying to keep the bear out of the garbage but nothing worked. They kept coming back. 

A little ways up the road from the mess hall on our left was the rock wall that was in front of our barracks. This was where we set in the evenings to rest after a hard days work.

“That second foundation is where my barracks was,” I said to Clarence.

“I was in the first one, guess they wanted me close to the mess hall?” Clarence said. 

“I remember when a boomer got in our barracks. Not may people know what a boomer is. They belong to the squirrel family. Not as large as a gray squirrel and  larger than a ground squirrel.  A boomer is the fastest  animal in all the mountains. When we threw something at him he would be in the other end of the barracks before it left your hand.  After throwing shoes and anything we could get our hands on we gave up and opened the doors in the barracks and he left. Also got my bed tied up in the ceiling one time when I went to Bryson City one Saturday night to the square dance. I didn’t complain and it never happened again. 

Over there was where Forgy had the generator that he started every night.  That building next to the generator house was the training building where you could learn a trade if you wanted to.

The other building on our right was the canteen and recreation hall. We didn’t have much money to spend at the canteen. We were paid thirty dollars a month. Five for us and the other twenty five was given to our family. We were glad for the twenty five dollars to go to our family. This helped send the younger children to school and support our family in many ways.

Over there was where the army officers had their offices and bedrooms. We had a Captain and a Lieutenant. Everyone in camp liked the Captain but the Lieutenant was fresh out of officers training and liked to show his authority. He didn’t have too many friends.”

“Clarence, do you remember that someone had to make the officer’s beds and they had to be sacked?” “And, do you remember when someone put a live five foot black snake in the Lieutenant’s bed and after he

recovered from the shock he called a meeting in the recreation  hall  trying to find out who the snake handler was. The rumor was that from that day on he would never get in bed without removing the sheets and blankets.”

A little farther up the road we came to where the park office was, “This was where I worked.” I said,  “Let me tell you how I got this job.”

“The first week in camp I was assigned to the rock cutting crew. For some reason I was not issued work clothes, May have been because I was so skinny or they wanted to see if I was staying.

The crew leader would have a large stone placed on a table. I was given a big hammer and a chisel and told to make the bolder a certain size by chipping it. When Friday finally came I was cut all over my arms and face from flying chips from the stone. I had a plan. Come Saturday I was leaving this place.

Early Saturday morning I slipped out of the barracks. Walked down the road to 411 highway going to Cherokee. I was walking as fast as I could go. I was scared because there was lots of wild animals in these mountains.

Out of nowhere the lights from a car came up behind me. After  passing me, it stopped. When I was closer I could see that it was a green park truck. A voice from inside the truck asked.  “What are you doing in these mountains at this time of the day?”

  I was really scared but managed to answer. “I was in that CCC camp, but I am going home and not coming back.”

  “Where is your home?” he asked.

  “Canton,” I said. 

  “Get in. I’m going to Waynesville, that’s pretty close.”

   I got in the truck and we were on our way to Waynesville when the driver asked, “Why are you leaving the CCC camp?”

   “I’ve been cutting rocks all this week and I have cuts all over my body. I can’t do this kind of work.”

   “My name is Rosser, I am the Park Superintendent here, if you will come back by Monday I will promise  that you will not have to work in the rock quarry again.”

 “I’ll think about it,” I said.

Things were kind of boring around home on Saturday and Sunday morning. I was missing some of the boys I had become friends with and most of all the good food that we had every meal and plenty of it. I decided to go back.

I walked to town, bought a ticket and was on the Trailway bus going back to camp.

On Monday morning I went to the park office where all the work was assigned for that day. Every one was given a job and had left, I was still waiting when one of the park employees  told me that I was to help out in the park office, issue tools and put gas in the park ranger’s trucks when they came for gas.  I was to keep a record of who checked out tools and have the drivers sign for the gasoline they got.

The park office clerk was a boy from some where in Tennessee. He answered to the name of Rod. He explained his work duties to me and how to recognize the different rings on the phone. This was the first time I had ever talked on a phone. It was a little spooky to talk with someone that was miles away.

Another good thing happened. I moved into the park office from the barracks. Someone had to be near the phone around the clock in case there was a call for help from an accident or a fire report.  Rod and I had a bed room in the back of the office.

Everything good was going my way. Rod had a small radio and with the help of several hundred feet of wire strung through the trees we could hear the baseball games from St. Louis and the Grand Old Opera from Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday night.

   I am glad that I came back to Camp 411.

   “Clarence, did you look at the old fish hatchery place when you were here?” I asked.

   “Yes, the building is gone but several of the fish ponds are still there”.

   “Do you remember when some of the boys would slip in the building and steal some of the big trout that were kept for spawning?”

   “Yes, They would get them cooked by someone in the mess hall. I never did cook any for them.”

   It’s a pretty long walk up there and we are many years older so we will skip the hatchery,” I said.

   As we were walking back to our car on the exit road that was back of where the barracks were Clarence pointed to a big hole in the ground.

   “Do you know what that is?” he asked.

   “I believe that is where the septic tank was for our sewage system,” I said.

   “Your are right,” Clarence said. The man that was a crew leader and the dynamite man at the rock quarry designed and supervised building the tank.

   As we approached the place where we had left our cars I said to Clarence, “I’m glad that you called me and invited me to visit the old 411 CCC camp. Sure, brought back memories of the good old days.  I didn’t realize when I enlisted in the CCC that what I learned  would help make me a better citizen, soldier, employee and father. The money that we received was not the important part of our growing up from a poor young boy out of the mountains to a young man with responsibilities and the desire to help our fellow man. I am proud to tell others that I was a part of President Roosevelt’s “Tree Army”, the CCC’s.

 “Goodbye Clarence”, thanks for the invitation to visit  411 with you.  


CCC Legacy Journal:  Vol. 33, Issue 6, - November December 2009

Tales from Camp 704,  Minnesota

by Ed Benysek

This I remember:

The year? 1933. Christmas. Excitement prevailed in Camp 704 – returning home for the first time since enrolling early last spring! Waiting patiently for those last seven lagging days, which finally arrived. Hey! We were out of here!

The Barracks bags were packed – mostly with laundry several times used and eager to be returned to their original “status.” Anyway, Mom, God bless her, would not have any problems.

It was into the back end of a stake bodied canvas covered, sans heat, army truck for that long trip to Ely (roughly about nine “hazardous Norwegian kilometers” distant). Into a nice warm greyhound bus – heading south to “civilization,” the “rustle-bustle” of the Twin Cities, continuing onward to Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa, which was good number of travelers called home!

My three brothers met me at the bus depot, running after the slow rolling greyhound. What a welcoming committee. I spotted them. “Hey is that you, Chep?” My six year old brother responded with, “You haven’t changed a bit, except you’re bigger!” I put on about a dozen or more pounds – thanks to good solid three squares of wholesome meals of “Army Chow!” Well, when I met my parents the reception was more solemn-deep rooted; their son had returned home. Hugs and warmer, “So good to see you! How long are you going to stay home? You’re so suntanned, etc etc.” The kitchen table had been set with coffee cups and a large white platter of Ralatchkies, a Scandinavian pastry. “How is your camp – the other boys? Your friends?”

It was so good to come back home. Chep, he was direct: “Must be scary to work in the woods – did you see any bears or wolves, did you hear them howl at night? Brother Bill revealed, “I am buying you a compass – so you won’t get lost!”

The next several days were a round-robin of visiting neighbors, friends and relatives with the spirit of Christmas resplendent in each home. All were eager to learn about the CCC Camps. Gifts? I was blessed with an “army foot locker” – a prized possession in the C’s.

You know there was an aside to my return home. For some strange reason my home had undergone a change - things weren’t the same. Suddenly it dawned on me. It wasn’t the physical things that had changed. Instead it was myself who had undergone the changes - in a sense finding myself. I am now sure that each and everyone had undergone that wonderful transition finding out who we were really were. Could that have been nature’s way of announcing the future “Greatest Generation”? It goes without saying we were the “Greatest” – I like that.

Our time was really a rallying point. It was refreshing to have enjoyed our visit back home – more so Camp 704? The serving table in the Mess Hall had a small “natural” Christmas Tree on each end – home for the next four months! The Spirit of Christmas? Sheridan Street in Ely, decorated with the new neon lights glowing – the welcome we received upon returning was filled with “the Season to be Jolly.” It was indeed a Merry Christmas! A better 1934! God bless us each and every one – Merry Christmas!


CCC Legacy Journal:  Vol. 33, Issue 6 – Nov Dec 2009

Wyoming Statue Dedication 

Submitted by Linda Fabian – Wyoming History News  

 Friends of Guernsey State Park were forced to cancel the unveiling of the CCC statue scheduled for Sunday, October 11th at the Guernsey State Park Museum.  Thirteen inches of snow landed in Wyoming’s southeast corner, and with the promise of wind, canceling the dedication seemed the only sensible thing to do.

 In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “I promise to create a Civilian Conservation Corps to be used in simple work; more important, however, than the material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work.”    Simple work it was not.  The results of what the CCC built around the state of Wyoming is breathtaking, and is especially represented throughout Guernsey State Park. 

 More than 36,000 men served in the CCC in Wyoming between 1933 and 1942.  Two companies were located at Guernsey Lake.  Company 844 was located on the east side of the reservoir, and Company 1855 was located on the west side.  Competition between the two companies resulted in extraordinary structures, including the Sitting Bull and Castle picnic shelters, along with the “Million Dollar Biffy,” probably the most elaborate latrine in the CCC system! 

 The Rustic style architecture is especially evident at the park museum where the building and displays are essentially intact since its construction in 1937.  The floor of the museum was quarried, assembled and numbered in Thermopolis.  It was then disassembled, shipped to the museum and then reassembled.  A close look still reveals some of the numbers on the museum floor.  Guernsey State Park remains a national gem and a living testament to the success of the CCC.  

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