CCC


The Civilian Conservation Corps

The hardships of the Great Depression of the early part of the twentieth century lead to many drastic decisions by our countries leaders on how to deal with the problem. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States at the time, decided to infiltrate the country with government money to create jobs and better the country as a whole. The Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC created many of these jobs.
The Civilian Conservation Corps, which was established in 1933 to conserve the wilderness and give young able men jobs. This program was one of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs that were to bring the country out of the depression. The Civilian Conservation Corps took in unmarried men from ages eighteen to twenty-five and moved them to the wilderness to work. They planted trees, built parks, fought soil erosion, and preformed timber culturing (Davidson 718).
The Civilian Conservation Corps set up camps all over the country with many of them right here in the western part of Virginia. There were eight different camps in the Shenandoah Valley. Seeing as the Shenandoah Valley, specifically Staunton is where I am from, I wish to focus on the three camps that were located within Augusta County. North River, West Augusta, and Sherando were the names of the three camps located within Augusta County.
North River Camp, also known as Mount Solon Camp, was first established on May 31, 1933 by one hundred eighty-six men. These men first had to create a clearing for the camp and establish living quarters. They built nineteen different buildings for
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uses such as recreation, dining, worship, storage and sleep. The camp men built many of the surrounding areas attractions. These men developed an intricate maze of fire roads, horseback trails and timber paths for future development of the National Forest in that area of Augusta County. Another accomplishment of this particular camp was the cleaning up of Staunton Dam, or Elkhorn Lake. This lake supplied the camp and Staunton with its water and had been contaminated by erosion. The men spent considerable time fixing the erosion problem and beautifying the area into a wilderness attraction. Now many families still retreat to this lake for picnics and camping trips.
The West Augusta Camp was located further into the wilderness than the North River Camp or the Sherando Camp. The West Augusta Camp men spent most of their time constructing roads throughout the underdeveloped and extremely impoverished area. Being surrounded by the George Washington National Forrest, the men also did many timber culturing; tree plantings, and timber stand improvements. This area was an extremely wet area so they constructed many fish dams for the production of trout. This camp was quite active and production was well noted. They completed 28.5 miles of roads over the Appalachian Mountain range, built and maintained three fire towers on three different mountains, constructed two new hiking trails, flooding control, improved fish habitat, roadside pull offs on Shenandoah Mountain, and road and trail signs.
The West Augusta Camp was considered one of the Civilian Conservation Corps best camps in the United States. Many of the structures that were constructed and all of the trails and towers are still standing and used to this day. In fact the area is now call
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Ramsey’s Draft and the highways they built are considered one of the most beautiful to visit during the fall foliage.
The final Civilian Conservation Corps camp located in Augusta County was named Sherando Camp. This camp was established on May 15, 1933 and was manned by one hundred fifty-two enrollees. Approximately ninety percent of the work done by this camp was road construction of some sort. The other ten percent of the work was done on a recreational lake to be named Sherando Lake. The lake’s dam required thirty thousand cubic yards of fill. The lake was to be twenty-five acres in area and around fifty feet deep at its deepest point. They also constructed streambeds, telephone lines, sewer system, water system, parking lots and buildings for the Sherando Lake site.
Today Sherando Lake is one of the biggest wilderness tourist attractions in the Augusta County area because of its beauty and remoteness. Now there are multitudes of