Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What they did before the C.C.C. was their job

Columns 28 & 29 on the 1940 census concern an individual's "occupation" and "industry" respectively. As noted in a previous post some camps detailed an occupation for each individual enumerated at that camp. In other cases, this information is provided when the record of an enrollee fell upon one of the two entries located on each census page marked for collection of additional data. This additional information would appear at the bottom of the census page. To have this position of occupation and industry recorded instead of the more standard reference to their role in the camp is rare and, like level of education, offers a glimpse at the background of the individual enrollee. Most times enrollees are associated strictly with their then current work title, so terms like "laborer" or "field laborer" and "soil erosion" or "C.C.C." are typical as are other occupations around the camp and project such as "truck driver", "cook", "carpenter", "clerk", and "steam shovel operator".

At Neodesha, KS where Co. 784 was stationed, a group of 23 young men who were new enrollees were enumerated shortly after their arrival at camp. Eleven were identified simply as a "laborer" for either "farm" or "odd jobs", probably indicative of the youthfulness and relative inexperience of this group of men. The remainder included various occupations such as "deliveryman" for a "retail dairy", a "truck driver" in "road construction", a "blacksmith" in a "machine shop", a self-employed "carpenter", a "newsboy" for an El Dorado newspaper, and two musicians in Kansas orchestras.

Another group of 23 veteran enrollees, in Co. 4719 near Ottawa, KS exhibited a more varied list of occupations including seven identified as "laborer" for a variety of industries including "packing house"or "packing ind.", "farming",  "R.R.", and "contract". Others include a "lawyer", a "train messenger" for an "ex[press] agency" an "electrician" from a Topeka, KS powerplant, a "cafe operator", two farmers (and one listed "agri."), and two coal miners. Apart from the above mentioned reference to the railroad, a "fireman" and a "brakeman" are also associated with the railroad industry. Representing the oil industry are a "pipe fitter" and an "oil driller", and auto industry includes a "mechanic" and a "machinist". The list is dominated by blue collar type jobs that these men who were typically in their 40s and 50s, the backbone of an experienced labor force, might be expected to hold.

Finally, down at Parsons, KS, the 51 African-American junior enrollees enumerated for Co. 4717 are almost all identified as "field laborer" in "C.C.C. Camp" with others noted to be "cook", "truck driver", "mechanic", and "carpenter" that would fit with roles in the typical camp. A small group however have occupations listed that wouldn't seem to be part of a standard camp even though they are listed as "C.C.C. Camp". These odd jobs include "dry cleaner", "bell hop", "paper carrier", "musician", two listed for "housework", and three identified as "chauffeur". It is interesting that aside from musician, the occupations are all service-oriented positions.

Ultimately, the 1940 census data offers intriguing, if limited, glimpses of individual enrollees. While it is unfortunate that there isn't more information available for the various camps where more complete groupings of enrollees joined by their common link to the Civilian Conservation Corps would provide abundant ground for study, there are still excellent details that can be gleaned from the data with some investigation. I hope that this recent series of posts focusing on the 1940 census has demonstrated that.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

C.C.C. Enrollee Education- Evidence From The 1940 Census

Another piece of useful information from the 1940 census lies in column 14 "Highest Grade Of School Completed." Using the 1940 census information available from a limited number of Kansas camps, we can see notable differences between the level of education listed among the older generation veteran C.C.C. enrollees when compared to that of the younger cohort of junior enrollees. This distinction is indicative of the "high school movement" that became the new paradigm for public education beginning in the early 1900s. While in the "common school" of the latter half of the 1800s, students rarely attended school past age 14, having attended up to six years of schooling by that time. By the time of the 1940 census, a public school system comprised of elementary, junior high, and high school levels was common in both urban and rural settings. Whereas in 1910 only 20% of 15 to 18 year olds attended high school and slightly less than 10% graduated, by 1940 those numbers had increased to nearly 75% attendance and more than 50% graduating (Goldin & Katz, 2008:195).

Our cohort of Kansas veterans comes from Co. 4718 (Spivey, Kingman County) and Co. 4719 (Ottawa, Franklin County) while the junior enrollees come from Co. 784 (Neodesha, Wilson County) and Co. 4717 (Parsons, Labette County). These companies are the only ones for which significant numbers of enrollees were identified in the enumeration at the camp and/or adjacent areas (as is the case with Co. 4719). The results are presented in the table below.

Highest Grade Level Achieved- 
Kansas C.C.C. Camp Sample
(Based 1940 Federal Census Data)
GradeCompany
#4718-V
Company
#4719-V
Company
#784
Company
#4717-C
Third13

Fourth54

Fifth42

Sixth5311
Seventh8814
Eighth3734310
 Freshman-H 3347
Sophmore-HS54410
Junior-HS42110
Senior-HS5698
College Undergraduate441
College Graduate11

College Post-Graduate1


TOTALS83742450



The totals and distributions among the two veteran companies is very comparable suggesting that the totals may well be representative of veteran C.C.C. companies in general. A noticeable ceiling is found at the eighth grade level in both groups of veterans with right at 45% of the men completing eighth grade and around 28% having ended their education prior to this point. This total of 73% of veteran C.C.C. enrollees having completed no higher than 8th grade can be contrasted with the 73% of junior enrollees overall who had attended at least one year of high school. Over half of that number (54%) had completed three years of study and 33% had earned a diploma. Only one junior enrollee had continued on to complete any college while about 7% of veterans had attended college. By comparison, no junior enrollees had failed to complete at least 6th grade while 12% of veteran members had less than a 6th grade education.

Another point I found interesting is that while 80% of the junior enrollees in the Co. 784 had attended school beyond the 8th grade, only slightly fewer African-American enrollees (70%) had likewise. Both had comparable numbers that had completed at least three years of high school (58% v. 51%). A distinction among these two groups comes in the rate of high school graduation where 53% of Whites versus only 23% of African-American enrollees had completed their high school studies. This distinction probably has more to do with the fact that only 4 enrollees (17%) in Co. 784 were age 17 while 24 of the young men (48%) in Co. 4717 were 17 (including 7 of those who had attended three years of high school). Perhaps these differences are an indication of the relative level of need that their respective families were experiencing and their response to this as young men who might provide much needed additional support to their families. It seems apparent that educational opportunities for both young African-Americans and Whites was distinctly higher than that of their parents generation represented by the C.C.C. veterans.

2008  Goldin, Claudia Dale and Lawrence F. Katz
          The Race Between Education and Technology. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Kansas C.C.C. Camps in the Census: A Closer Look

In looking at the 1940 census data for the Kansas C.C.C. camps, the first thing one notices is that several don't have anyone enumerated and most have only a handful of seemingly random people identified. These camps were all in full operation at the time and therefore would have had a full complement of camp officers and project staff as well as up to 200 or so enrolled men present. The camps were designated as unique enumeration districts in the census, just as small communities in townships would have been set apart. The intent was there to identify and document the camp occupants, but in no case do the numbers come close to doing this. Why? Well...

Twelve of the Kansas camps were comprised of junior enrollees, young men between the ages of 17 and 25. Standard procedure appears to have been to enumerate junior enrollees at home as opposed to the C.C.C. camp except in rare circumstances. For example, at the end of the record for Company 4717-C at Parsons, KS where 55 enrollees (including 4 from camp overhead) were counted, the enumerator, and company commander, Fred L. Eistrup, noted:
"Individual census reports were not sent out to parents from the C C Camp #4717 by the commander on the above 55 persons as they were brought to this camp the first week of April and stated they had not been enumerated elsewhere."
From this short comment, it is clear that part of the process included sending census reports to the homes of the enrollees to ensure the men were counted. In situations where new enrollees had apparently not already been enumerated at home, provision was made to do so at the camp. In Labette County at Parsons, a sizable group is recorded during the time shortly following a regular C.C.C. enrollment period, likewise at Neodesha in Wilson County where Company 784 enumerated 23 men on April 29 that were noted to not be in the C.C.C. at the end of that March (answer to question on Line 22 of the census record).  In Nemaha County where the enumeration date is in June, only three men were listed, each with the title "New Worker".

In other searches, I ran across C.C.C. junior enrollees scattered throughout the census in their parent's households. For example- James and John Helme ages 20 and 18 respectively in the the home of their mother in the South-Central Kansas community of Zenda. Both are listed as "Laborers" for "Soil Erosion", among the most common identifiers for C.C.C. workers in the state. In nearby Peters Township, 17 year old Henry Taggart is noted as absent (AB) and at "CCC Camp, Seneca Kansas". Others include Edgar Crampton, age 23, listed with his parents and younger brother in rural Morris County; LeRoy Banks, age 19, a "Laborer" for "Reforestation Project" in the home of his parents and younger siblings at Wellington; and African-American Frederick White, age 19, a "Laborer" for "C.C.C. Camp" counted among his parents and siblings in Ottawa, just to name a few.

Only two veteran camps were in operation in 1940- Company 4718 near Spivey in Kingman County and Company 4719 near Ottawa in Franklin County. The Spivey camp enumeration was the largest among of the Kansas camps with 88 individuals represented. Of this number, 77 of the men (87.5%) are single, widowed, or divorced. In other words they were by themselves for the purposes of census enumeration and would not be expected to have been counted elsewhere. Similarly, at Ottawa, only one of the 23 enumerated men (4.3%) was married. A search of adjacent enumeration districts in this case identified numerous married enrollees who were counted within their household along with a wife and often, other dependents. Elsewhere around the state, searches outside of the camp occasionally turned up associated members, most often camp or project leadership, all enumerated as head of a household that had been relocated to the project locale.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

1940- Kansas Camps in the Federal Census

In the spring of 1940 there were 14 C.C.C. camps in operation around Kansas- 1 state park improvement (Meade Co.), 2 state lake construction projects (Clark and Nemaha Co.), and 11 soil conservation projects (Atchison, Cloud, Coffey, Franklin, Jefferson, Kingman, Labette, Marshall, Morris, Sumner, and Wilson Counties). Being a Federal census year, the opportunity exists for information about specific camps and individuals to be found among the voluminous records produced by the enumeration of the population in 1940. For my Kansas research, I used a couple of online resources, the most user-friendly and effective one being the open-access 1940 records at www.FamilySearch.org. For a search of the 1940 Kansas records, try this: 1940-census-kansas and choose "explore images by location", searching by the term "C.C.C.". The resulting total of 14 enumeration districts are listed by township, the individual camps visible as unique subsets- the equivalent of small communities in each township. The camps are listed by their project number (e.g. "SCS-9, SCS-32, SP-3, etc.).

C.C.C. Camps in Kansas Identified From 1940 Federal Census
County Company Project Date Established Project Type Enumerated Individuals
Atchison Co. 767-C SCS-33 10/3/39 Soil Conservation 2*
Clark Co. 729 SCS-12 11/1/34 Lake Construction 7*
Cloud Co. 788 SCS-34 1/5/40 Soil Conservation 0*
Coffey Co. 4702 SCS-7 9/29/35 Soil Conservation 0*
Franklin Co. 4719 SCS-5 7/26/35 Soil Conservation 23*
Jefferson Co. 1763? SCS-9 1/11/36? Soil Conservation 2*
Kingman Co. 4718-V SCS-4 9/26/35 Soil Conservation 87*
Labette Co. 4717-C SCS-31 7/29/38 Soil Conservation 55*
Marshall Co. 2735 SCS-30 7/12/37 Soil Conservation 2*
Meade Co. 4755-CV SP-3 2/1/39 Park Development 0*
Morris Co. 4703 SCS-8 7/25/35 Soil Conservation 0*
Nemaha Co. 2735 SCS-16 9/1/36 Lake Construction 2*
Sumner Co. 786-C SCS-32 7/31/38 Soil Conservation 2*
Wilson Co. 784 SCS-22 10/11/34 Soil Conservation 23*
*Number from camp only. Additional individuals from nearby areas may be associated.

While initially exciting to see the camps show up so readily, the accompanying records are of varying, and occasionally quite limited, value. "No Population" is the only comment for several camps while others have only a handful of individuals enumerated; sometimes consisting of the military and/or SCS overhead and supervisory personnel, sometimes enrollees, and occasionally both. A few camps have a couple of dozen or even dozens of men listed. In some cases, scanning records from nearby enumeration districts revealed additional camp personnel in private residences and occasionally I would run onto enrollees as well. At first glance, it seems enumeration among camps was random and without pattern, but after some consideration, more thorough searching of adjacent enumeration districts and sampling districts in communities and townships elsewhere around the state I gained a better understanding of the records (I think...).



 Despite the limitations of the data, there is still something that can be gained from the census records as they relate to the Civilian Conservation Corps and over the coming weeks I hope to present some of the interesting details I've seen in the Kansas census data regarding education of enrollees, ages (particularly among the vets), where the men come from, the likelihood that some if not many of the project supervisors and personnel may be tied back to other projects around the state a few years prior, even some insight into where some of the enrollees former employment/area of training may have been, and we'll look into the question of why many camp enumerations are seemingly missing (and just who some of those individuals were that can be found nearby).

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An Addition to the Roll: Company 755 and Camp Lebanon


Recently I came across a photograph that identified a previously unknown (to me at least) Civilian Conservation Corps company that worked in Kansas. According to the C.C.C. Legacy camp lists, Company 755 worked on projects in Oregon and Nebraska. Apparently they also slipped in a short stint in Kansas over the winter of 1933–1934. The photograph in question is a panorama of camp buildings with the caption "C.C.C. Camp – Co. 755 – Lebanon, Kan. – Jan. – 1934".

Company 755, Camp Lebanon, Kansas- 1934 (Scott Stanton Collection).

The photograph is part of the family photograph collection of Scott Stanton whose grandfather Douglas Stanton, Sr. served with Co. 755 from the end of November 1933 through early April 1934 when he was discharged to accept employment back home at Logan, KS. Stanton served as a Local Experienced Man (L.E.M.) at Camp Lebanon.

Douglas Stanton, Sr., Camp Lebanon, 1934 (Scott Stanton Collection).

Interestingly, two accounts of C.C.C. alumni in Glenn Howell's "C.C.C. Boys Remember: A Pictorial History of the Civilian Conservation Corps" (1976) refer to work at Lebanon without noting Co. 755. However, Hugh Glenn's account mentions his friend "Doug Stanton" who he split costs with on rides home to Logan occasionally. Glenn's account is illustrated with several pictures, including a shot of Camp Lebanon from a different angle, as well as shots of the crew and the L.E.M. crew including Doug Stanton.

Company 755 crew in the field (C.C.C. Boys Remember- Hugh Glenn Collection).
Reviewing the Lebanon Times from September 1933 through April 1934 provided a nice account of the work of Co. 755. The company worked on a number of farms in northeastern Smith County, generally north of Lebanon. Their focus was soil conservation, much like that of the nearby Esbon camp, reshaping and filling gullies and building small earthen check dams, brush dams, and pond dams. The C.C.C. presence was the result of extensive work by the "Commercial Club", an organization of local business leaders. It is clear that local efforts hoped to land a major project building a lake in the vicinity of where the camp was located and disappointment is apparent in the eventual project focus although enthusiasm for the C.C.C. presence was overwhelming. It is also clear that those business interests that sought to bring the camp to the Lebanon vicinity were rewarded through the economic boost the camp naturally brought with it in purchasing supplies for camp construction, contracts for daily consumables, and the more limited, but still notable buying power of 200 young men during the duration of the camp.

Early on it was noted that the company that would be arriving was provided in part to keep a company from more northern climes in a location that would allow them to continue to be active during the winter. Presumably, although never explicitly mentioned, the company would head back north in the Spring. That is exactly what happened when Company 755 broke camp in Kansas and headed for Albion, Nebraska in mid-April 1934. The company, while coming from Oregon, was stocked primarily with new recruits from Nebraska when it arrived in Kansas. This and the fact that several thousand new Kansas recruits were coming into the C.C.C. during the third enrollment period led to the Nebraskan dominated Co. 755 to be placed on projects in its "home state" making room for a Kansas crew a short time later.

A number of details converged to complicate identifying this project previously-

1) The location of the camp was only about 6 miles west of another C.C.C. camp near Esbon. Lebanon is mentioned in other newspaper accounts I have researched from late 1933 and early 1934 (Scott County Record and Toronto Republican for example), but I had assumed that the proximity to Esbon simply reflected an alternate reference to that camp.

 2) Lebanon was the location of a camp only three months after Co. 755 moved on to Albion, NE when Veteran Co. 1778 arrived from work on Frontier Park at Hays. While it remains to be demonstrated, I assume that the original camp location on the Neal Brown farm north of Lebanon was re-occupied by this later company.

3) No camp newspaper to identify it in CCC newspaper collections. This also occurred with Co. 731 and Camp McGinnis north of Scott City at Scott State Park, another camp that was not noted on available lists of Kansas camps.

4) The short duration of the work. Company 755 and (the original) Camp Lebanon were only occupied between October 1933 through mid-April 1934. Again, this is a comparable situation to the Scott County camp.

Company 755 makes an addition to my roll of Kansas projects and camps. Now that I've had a couple of instances where projects and companies have limited visibility in the record (apart from National Archives research), I am going to have spend some time tracking down a few other inconsistencies  I've come across in my research mentioning the C.C.C. in places that had no camp nearby. With so much other research awaiting me, I've generally not given these oddities much thought. It is clear however that there is a whole facet of the Kansas C.C.C. history that will require some additional diligence to bring to light.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Woodson County Wanderings

Yesterday marked the first time in quite awhile that I made a field visit to a CCC project location. The destination was Woodson State Fishing Lake located a few miles southwest of Yates Center, KS. With the family in tow and a small lot of period photos to help identify construction and camp activities, we set out on a brilliantly sunny, breezy, late January afternoon.

Kansas Wildlife & Parks brochure PDF 

What a beautiful, secluded location! Tucked into a small valley in the oak filled hills of the Cross Timbers region, the 75+ year old lake still shines like a jewel. Despite the nice day, we had the place to ourselves.

Woodson State Fishing Lake looking northwest from CCC quarry locale.
Two CCC companies (Co. 1715 and 1709) were initially responsible for carrying out the lake construction, while a third (Co. 2735) worked here in the latter stages of the project, bringing it to a successful conclusion. The photos in my collection primarily depict the work of Co. 1709 from the earliest phases of construction to lake impoundment.

Mule teams and Caterpillar power (note Camp Woodson in background).

Lake Fegan dam and spillway from quarry locale.

A common decorative style using local stone to create columns and a castellated wall along the dam drive was employed at Lake Fegan where sandstone blocks form a row of columns on the downstream side of the dam and a decorative and functional castellated wall on the impoundment side.

Woodson State Fishing Lake- decorative stonework along dam road.

I have not always been successful in relocating remnants of CCC camps, even when having maps or photographic evidence of their locations. Camp Woodson was by comparison, fairly easy to identify with several landmarks tying historic photos to existing remains starting with a fireplace and chimney standing in a pasture adjacent to the lake property. Other areas of sandstone blocks, brick piers, brick and stone rubble, and scattered evidence of roads and other camp features were noted across the same short grazed pasture. Visible evidence of Camp Woodson was more limited on the lake property where thick stands of native grass and scattered thickets and trees obscured visibility. Additionally, it is clear that developments associated with the activity of the lake over the past 75+ years have impacted the remains of the former camp, but enough remains of the camp to warrant more formal documentation and mapping to record visible features. Interestingly, Camp Woodson was one of those early Kansas camps where boxcars were relied upon for some of the camp buildings (at least early on). I was pleased to see several instances of correlation between my period photographs and the modern landscape.

Fireplace and chimney of former CCC camp building.
My son and his big find- the flagpole base inscribed "CCC, Co. 1709, 1934".
Photo of Company 1709 at retreat (note flagpole and chimney).


Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Veteran in the CCC



Although the typical CCC enrollee was 18 to 20 years of age, a portion of the allotment  was set aside for the enrollment of veterans of the Spanish American and, more often, the World War (I). While provision for these men was not made initially, Roosevelt made an allowance by signing Executive Order 6129 on May 11, 1933 as a concession to the second Bonus Army march on Washington, D.C. authorizing enrollment of 25,000 veterans. Qualifications differed from the junior enrollee; one needed to be certified by the Veterans Administration by application, they could be any age, and married or single as long as they were in need of work. Veterans were mostly assigned to camps comprised only of fellow veterans although this wasn't always the case. Company #4755 for example was comprised of junior and veteran enrollees initially before being divided during the work at Marion.

KANSAS VETERAN CAMPS

CompanyProject #Project TypeNearest TownDate Established
Co. 1778SP-1

SCS-2a
Park Development
Soil Conservation
Hays

 Lebanon
7/22/1933

6/16/1934
Co. 1779PE-206
SCS-2
Soil ConservationEsbon
Burr Oak
7/23/1933
9/1/1934
Co. 4718SCS-4
SCS-36
Soil ConservationSpivey &
Osage City
9/26/1935
8/6/1940
Co. 4755SCS-27
SP-3
Lake ConstructionMarion & Meade 2/3/1936
2/1/1939

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lake Garnett, Camp Anderson, and Civilian Conservation Corps Co. #1715

 Photo of Company 1715, July 9, 1935
Source: Anderson County Historical Society collection (Merritt McDonald donation)

I finally had a chance this week to stop by the Anderson County Historical Society in Garnett to spend some time researching. I was met by longtime ACHS president Dorothy Lickteig who had mentioned in previous correspondence with her that they did have some photos of the CCC camp in their collections. While I spent the afternoon looking through Garnett area photos, pulling photos of the lake and camp, and scanning them, Dorothy graciously copied relevant notes from ACHS history publications highlighting the project from the perspective of the local paper.

The project itself involved the construction of a dam to form Lake Garnett, located on the north side of town. The lake and surrounding park property continues to be a center of recreation for the community today and was recently nominated as an "8 Wonders of Kansas" in the customs category.

PDF of Garnett's "8 Wonders of Kansas" nomination

Besides the lake, the location includes a number of New Deal era resources constructed by WPA and NYA crews in the late 1930s after completion of the lake including a swimming pool, football stadium, shelterhouses, restrooms, and picnic tables, of local stone and concrete creating a great rustic look to the park development.

Company 1715 came to Garnett in November of 1934 from the project near Toronto where work was ongoing to construct what is today called Woodson State Fishing Lake. The Garnett project received the support of former governor and then longtime U.S. Senator Arthur Capper whose hometown was Garnett. The work on dam construction was largely complete in the latter half of 1936 with other work wrapping up in late summer 1937.

 C.C.C. Camp Anderson Under Construction, October 26, 1934
Source: Anderson County Historical Society collections


Lake Garnett Construction- Clearing Location.
 Source: Anderson County Historical Society collections (Kenneth Knouse donation)

 Lake Garnett Shortly After Completion (note C.C.C. camp in background)
Source: Anderson County Historical Society collections

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Former Birger Sandzen Student Turned Camp Artist- Joseph A. Johnson

 
While researching Company 4718 through the stories in their camp newspaper "The Gully Guardian" a number of engravings by the veteran enrollees were prominent in several issues. Some are not identified to a specific enrollee, but several images are attributed to a Joseph A. Johnson.

"The above linoleum cut by Joseph Johnson, a member of the camp, portrays the barracks skyline at the camp."

A couple of notes in the camp newspapers and a little follow-up research identifies Johnson as a former student of Birger Sandzen at Bethany College between 1924 and 1926.

"Joseph A. Johnson, war veteran enrollee of the Kingman county CCC camp toils on the soil conservation crew during the day, but that does not keep him from bringing his art to his environment. Horses, galloping across the prairie and pausing near the crew for a rest gave him inspiration for the linoleum cut presented herewith.

Johnson, formerly a student at Bethany college at Lindsborg has produced paintings which have won the admiration of students and fellow enrollees. A painting of an Indian girl has been exhibited recently in the window of the Kingman furniture store. An accomplished violinist, Johnson has provided music in local church services."

"Horses, galloping across the prairie and pausing near the crew for a rest gave him inspiration for the linoleum cut presented herewith."
  
Johnson's tenure as "camp artist" was relatively short as his contributions to the camp news come to an end in February 1937 when the editor notes that, "the two sketches drawn for this issue were the efforts of Joseph A. Johnson who has been our camp artist. He has checked out to try his luck in other territory. The Gully Guardian will miss his contributions, but we are sure his artistic ability and good nature will not go unrewarded on the outside."

 
 With that, Joseph A. Johnson fades into CCC history. There is relatively little information on him that I am able to find at this point, and even his time in the CCC may represent something new to anyone who knows of the artist.

The work of Co. 4718 continued in Kingman County until the end of July 1940 when the company moves "out of the dustbowl" and into my backyard to near Osage City in Osage County, Kansas. That's where my research was headed that day when I encountered Mr. Johnson and perhaps we'll visit these later exploits of Co. 4718 sometime down the road...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Giant City State Park

Okay, you got me...not Kansas, but it does have a personal connection so bear with me.

I just finished a new (2010) book by Kay Rippelmeyer entitled Giant City State Park and the Civilian Conservation Corps: A History in Words and Pictures. I had been eagerly anticipating the release since happening upon it on Amazon a few months ago with a "preorder" option. While I am interested in almost any of the recent publications detailing the work of the CCC around the country, this one holds my interest even more since I lived just a few minutes from Giant City State Park while working in Southern Illinois in the mid-1990s. The park is a great slice of the Southern Illinois landscape and that in itself makes it worth a stop for those who might be making a trip through that part of the world- the fact that it was developed by the CCC is a bonus. A visit to Giant City Lodge is a must if you make the stop at the park.



The park was home to two camps, one positioned in each of two counties (Jackson and Union), in part to ease tension in local politics where different political parties were in control in each county. Work included constructing infrastructure to make the park more accessible and user-friendly as well as conservation work of the park's natural and cultural environs.

The background focusing on this particular park development, the history of the work at the park, and the numerous illustrations of the work through period photographs and other documents (186 illustrations total) is what I enjoyed the most. I can hardly wait to go back and visit again now that I'm armed with this guide to the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps at Giant City State Park. If you're interested in the work of the CCC in park development at the state level, this is an excellent and focused history of such work in Illinois. I look forward to Rippelmeyer's future publication on the Shawnee National Forest and the CCC for much the same reason. Check it out if you get the chance...