Civilian Conservation Corps

Drawing of man eating at a table with the letters "CCC" underneith.
The Civilian Conservation Corps poster. (OSA, Parks and Recreation Department Records, Boardman Collection, Box 2)
In response to the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created programs to put America back to work. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), one of the first emergency agencies, was established in 1933. The CCC's mission was two-fold: to reduce unemployment, especially among young men; and to preserve the nation's natural resources.

President Roosevelt recommended that the CCC operate in cooperation with and under the technical supervision of the War Department, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Labor. Other agencies like the Office of Education and the United States Veterans Administration also played a role. CCC projects centered around forestry, flood control, prevention of soil erosion and fighting forest fires.

Silver Creek Falls and the Civilian Conservation Corps

In 1940, Oregon had 61 CCC camps statewide and employed over 2000 men. It ranked 2nd only to California in states west of the Mississippi for the number of camps. One of these camps was Silver Creek Falls, located east of Salem.

Among the projects completed by the CCC at Silver Creek Falls was the renovation of buildings, installation of bathrooms, creation of picnic areas and the development and improvement of trails including the construction of bridges across rivers in the park. CCC camps in Oregon also worked on forest fighting crews and forest reclamation projects.

Log bridge spans creek in wooded area with waterfall in background on rock face.
Silver Creek Falls Bridge (Highway Division photo #2569)
While time was set aside for fun, these camps had strict rules of behavior. Work was closely regulated. Reports on progress were expected regularly. And costs were carefully documented.

Blueprints of Silver Creek Falls Camp Plan (Boardman Records, Box 1 - 92 A 31)
Silver Creek Falls State Park Completed Work (Boardman Records, Box 2 - 92 A 31)
Monthy Distribution of Encumbrances, July 1939 (Boardman Records, Box 1 - 92 A 31)

Thousands of young people from across the country were employed in Oregon CCC camps over nearly ten years. The CCC ended in 1942 when the United States became fully involved in World War II. Oregonians continue to enjoy the products of their hard work at parks and forests around the state.


Learn More

Books

Hill, Edwin G. In the Shadow of the Mountain: The Spirit of the CCC. Pullman, Wash.: Washington State University Press, 1990.
Lacy, Leslie Alexander. The Soil Soldiers: The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Great Depression. Radnor, Pa.: Chilton, 1976.
Salmond, John A. The Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1967.

Online

Oregon Public Broadcasting - Oregon Experience: Civilian Conservation Corps