Where I Met The CCC


In July 2008 I was introduced to the Civilian Conservation Corps during a visit to Scott State Park north of Scott City, KS. The lake itself was a project initiated by the State of Kansas as an enhancement to a new state park. The lake was opened to the public in June 1930 to much fanfare and the park was a source of pride locally and a popular attraction in the region.

In early August 1933 torrential rainfall in the Ladder Creek basin overwhelmed the impoundment and the west end of the dam failed when the spillway was undercut by floodwaters. The popularity of the young lake and state park created a groundswell to repair the dam that rose to the highest levels of state government. Governor Alf Landon quickly recommended that the project be included among others being proposed elsewhere in the state and by the end of August the Scott County News Chronicle led with a the headline "C.C.C. Workers To Be Here Soon". Company 731 arrived during the third week of October, establishing Camp McGinnis on the west side of the lake, a short distance southwest of the spillway.

The photo above is a picture I took from the caprock overlooking this camp location. Concrete footings/slabs, landscape modifications, and a well are visible at the location today and the camp was recorded as an archaeological site (14SC326) as a result of my visit. According to newspaper accounts, many of the camp buildings were adobe. Grass and soil were excavated locally, combined with a suitable amount of water and the mixture pressed into blocks. A number of western Kansas camps are noted to have used this technique for building camp structures and other buildings.

Interestingly, this camp and project are not among those listed for Kansas, probably in part due to the short notice leading up to establishment of the camp. A report in the Colby Free Press Tribune dated 10/11/33 notes that a number of camps would established in the region between October 1st through the 15th including one at Atwood, KS. Company 731 eventually made it to Atwood in May 1934 after completing the repairs on the dam at Scott County State Park. I believe the company was diverted from its intended original destination and was reassigned to Scott County to answer the public demand for a quick, cost effective solution to a devastating situation.

It was while trying to find corroborating evidence of local reports about a CCC camp at the park that I became interested in the work done elsewhere in the state and realized that there had been relatively little done to tell the story of the contributions the CCC made throughout the state. In this case the efforts of the CCC saved a regional attraction of significant historical interest that has since continued to be a jewel in the state park system. The CCC is one significant chapter in the history of Scott County and Scott State Park.

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