CCC celebrates 80th anniversary of role in Pa.'s state parks
A Depression-era federal program that is credited with helping to develop many of Pennsylvania's 120 state parks is marking its 80th anniversary.
Without the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, “a lot of our state parks probably wouldn't be there,” said Eric Rensel, natural resource specialist with the Bureau of State Parks. “A lot of roads — in some cases major highways — wouldn't have been built.”
The work relief program, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, operated from 1933 to 1942, giving manual labor jobs to unemployed, unmarried men. They helped to conserve and develop land owned by federal, state and local governments.
“It was the beginning of the parks that we have here,” said Kevin Blair, assistant manager at Laurel Hill State Park in Somerset County, one of five Recreation Demonstration Areas that the National Park Service built with laborers from the CCC and Works Projects Administration, another Depression-era program.
They built recreation demonstration areas — which include Blue Knob, Hickory Run, French Creek and Raccoon Creek — near cities to provide open-air recreation for urban dwellers. These became state parks when Pennsylvania inherited them in 1945.
Many of the projects CCC workers built 80 years ago are still standing, Blair said.
“We still have two dams, Jones Mill Run Dam and Spruce Run Dam, that were put in place by the CCC,” Blair said. “We have four camps available to staff and nonprofits to enjoy nature that were built by the CCC.”
Those projects and others helped attract more than 36.8 million visitors to Pennsylvania's state parks in 2011, though the number was down from 37.8 million in 2010, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said.
Gas prices and bad weather helped contribute to the decline, spokesman Terry Brady said.
“Projections show us to be back on track this year,” he said.
Point State Park in Allegheny County drew 1.4 million visitors last year; Ohiopyle in Fayette County, 1.2 million. Raccoon Creek in Beaver County had more than 442,000 visitors.
Men who worked for the CCC would enroll for six months to two years. The government issued them uniforms, fed them three meals a day and paid them $30 a month.
In addition to working on state parks, they fought forest fires, did rescue work in Pittsburgh and Johnstown after floods, planted trees and built roads, buildings, picnic areas, dams, swimming areas and campgrounds. The program ended with the outbreak of World War II.
“A lot of the camps were able to mobilize. ... They had the equipment. They were the first responders,” Rensel said of the work after flooding.
The National Register of Historic Places lists almost 30 CCC sites across Pennsylvania, including portions of Raccoon Creek, Linn Run, Laurel Hill and Kooser state parks. One of the country's CCC museums is in Harrison County, West Virginia, just off Interstate 79 about 45 miles south of Morgantown.
Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Conneaut Lake Park to take case to court for tax-exempt status
- Ohio woman shot to death nearly 3 days before police find body in Neshannock home
- Pennsylvania legislative leader Costa blasts suggestion of session before Wolf sworn in as governor
- Geologist: Site of idyllic 1833 painting of Lancaster found
- Attorney general Kane reverses claim about child porn in emails
- Openings on sullied Pennsylvania Supreme Court beckon candidates
- ‘Consolidation’ might be the word for some shale companies