A Southwest Kansas Talk and Field Trip Opportunity

This past weekend the family made a trip to Meade County where I had been invited speak on the Civilian Conservation Corps in Kansas and the local area. Meade County was home to one of the few state park projects in the state, with work focusing on improvements at Meade State Park/Lake. Two different periods of work, involving two very distinct CCC companies, were carried out on the state property. The first crew was at Meade from 1935 to 1936 (Co. #4701), moving later to join the work over in Clark County. Later between 1939 and 1942, another group picked up the work on needed improvements around the property (Co. #4755). Company 4701 was comprised of junior enrollees, some from the nearby camp in Clark County with others filling out the ranks from new enrollments. Company 4755 was an African-American veteran camp that came to Meade from Marion where they had completed construction of a county lake there.

Company 4701 boys in barracks. (photo from Meade County Historical Society collections)
Company 4755 veterans setting earthen blocks in building construction.
(photo from Meade County Historical Society collections)

The opportunity provided encouragement to research the local papers for information on the camp and check on the availability of camp newspapers for both camps that provide great insight into the work and the lives of the enrollees. The Meade County Historical Society has acquired a nice collection of images and plans relating to the project(s). The trip also provided a chance to return to the locations of the Clark and Meade camps in a different season of the year to view the scattered remnants of the camps as well as view and enjoy the fruits of their past effort.

View from the canyon rim looking west across the Clark State Fishing Lake dam.

Foremen's quarters at Camp Meade. One of two remaining camp structures at the location.

In preparing for the talk, I also looked into another nearby project carried out prior to work in Clark and Meade counties. Construction of a lake in eastern Finney County, about 1.5 hours to the north was carried out in part by Company 729 who later transferred to Clark County. Meade news accounts mention a contingent salvaging buildings from the Finney County camp (Camp Kinney). This project/camp is one I had not previously visited so it made the list for a short stop on the trip home. There are a number of markers/memorials commemorating the CCC crew and project...a story for another time.

 View of Finney State Fishing Lake. CCC Camp Kinney
was situated on the ridge in distant background.
The presentation to the assembled members and families of the Meade County Historical Society was well received and produced some interesting stories afterwards related to New Deal work in the area including family members involved in WPA and CCC work). It had been awhile since I had worked on the CCC in Kansas and it was good to be able to share some about the important work done in southwest Kansas where three state properties owe their existence to the work carried out as part of the New Deal.

The trip allowed a visit to three different projects carried out by eight different CCC companies. The trip also took us by the general vicinity of at least six other project/camp locales (Kingman, Rozel, Marion, Council Grove, Reading, Osage City), most of which I have yet to visit on the ground.

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