The Great Depression & the Creation of the CCC Camps

Young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934. Photo courtesy the Carl Walker family.

In 1933 through 1936 President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted several economic programs known as the New Deal to help to revitalize the country during the Great Depression. The Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) was one of the biggest programs of that era. Another government program that enlisted the help of three million young men was the Civilian Conservation Corps. Sometimes referred to as “Roosevelt’s Tree Army,” the CCC planted three billion trees in forests around the country that had been decimated by the Dust Bowl.

Help for the Country

With military precision each of the 2,600 hundred camps consisted of 200 unmarried men ranging in age from 18 to 26 with operations in every state in the union, as well as in Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico. For their efforts the young men were provided with room and board and a monthly stipend of $30.00. They were allowed to keep $5.00 and the remaining $25.00 was sent home to their families. Back then $25.00 was a lot of money and it kept many families from starving to death.

The CCC Legacy in Santa Fe

The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the National Park Service office in Santa Fe on Old Pecos Trail.  In 1936 they also planted pine trees in Hyde Park and built cabins that are still in use today.  FDR’s insight at initiating the Civilian Conservation Corps still resonates throughout the country. It was a program that saved a lot of people.

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