Civilian Conservation Corps at Upton

May 1934

Civilian Conservation Corps at Upton

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During the depression four Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) companies were assigned to Camp Upton. The first of the companies, which each consisted of approximately 200 men, arrived in May 1934. Three of the companies worked to establish fire lines and truck trails through the camp and a fire-break around it. They also worked on reforestation, planting some two million Norway pine, red pine, and black locust trees.

The fourth company worked under the direction of the state Department of Fish and Game to establish a public shooting game preserve for bobwhite quail. The New York State Conservation Department, with the approval of the Federal Forest Service, determined the work to be done. By January 1936, there was only one company remaining at Camp Upton. The original work schedule for the camp was modified.

It's reported that the CCC companies planted trees on 1,276 acres, forest stand improvement work was completed on 559 acres, 485 bushels of coniferous tree seed and 9,126 pounds of hardwood seed was collected. Grain was planted on 711 acres and 56 miles of fire breaks and 26 miles of truck trails were established. Two water holes to aid in forest fire fighting were constructed. A rodent control program was completed on 1,000 acres of the old government reservation. A topographical survey on 7,000 acres was completed as was the installation of 2.7 miles of telephone line. A lineal survey of the property covered 116 miles and fire hazards were removed on 20 acres.

Records show that seven different companies, some included veterans of World War I and Arfican-Americans, were assigned to Camp Upton with the last one occupying the camp in October 1939.

CCC History

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) Act on March 31, 1933. Known as Roosevelts Tree Army, the Civilian Conservation Corps was formed during the height of the Great Depression. Roosevelt was determined to save Americas youth from the excessive unemployment of the time while salvaging the land from soil erosion and declining timber resources. The plan was that the War Department, more specifically the Army, would transport, feed, clothe, shelter, educate, and provide health services for the enrollees. The Departments of Agriculture and Interior developed natural resource improvement projects and the Department of Labor identified those on relief and the unemployed. By July 1933, 250,000 men were enrolled in the program. The enrollees had to meet the following requirements: be unemployed, unmarried, healthy, and between the ages of 17 and 25. The men could remain in the CCC for two years.

Camp life reflected military procedure. Typically, a company clerk helped with the camp records and cooks worked under a Mess Sergeant who taught them military culinary procedures for food prep, safety, and storage. Other coveted positions in the camp were within the motor pool. Its reported that 45,000 truck drivers were trained annually. In addition to driving, mechanic and truck maintenance were also skills the enrollees could use in the private sector or in the military.

In the late 1930s, conditions changed and jobs became more plentiful. Applications for enrollment in the CCC declined. As the war in Europe escalated the focus of the CCC shifted from conservation to civil defense. Companies were placed on military bases and airfields, ammunition ranges, and other military buildings were constructed. After Pearl Harbor a Congressional report recommended abolishing the CCC. Subsequently in 1942, Congress voted to stop funding the Corps.

Documents / Links

To learn more visit: Civilian Conservation Corps