Shortly after taking office in 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt announced plans for creation of a “conservation army.” FDR at first saw the Civilian Conservation Corps primarily as a forestry organization — fighting fires, planting trees, thinning timber stands, stopping soil erosion and floods — but the field personnel of the State and Federal agencies involved soon realized that CCC labor might also be directed toward the construction of forest improvements–particularly roads, trails, buildings, and recreation sites. The CCC men literally built the foundations on which the national forests now stand.
Camp Ellison D. Smith F-l, located near the Whetstone Road in Oconee County, was the first CCC camp to be located in South Carolina. This and two others soon to follow employed approximately 800 men at their peaks, and remained operational for nearly 10 years.
The men of these camps built Oconee State Park, Long Mountain Fire Tower, and Walhalla Fish Hatchery, and rebuilt Highway 107. There were many other less obvious projects. Millions of trees were planted; girdling to kill undesirable rotten trees was done on thousands of acres; growth plots for long-term forest inventory were established. Erosion control work was done on eroding fields which were on farms purchased by the Forest Service; property boundaries were surveyed, painted, and posted, in addition to wildlife being stocked.
Hard work, fresh air, and plenty of food were considered essential for CCC employees to accomplish one of the goals established by the office of education, “to develop an appreciation of nature and of country life.” And to that third end, here is the 1938 Thanksgiving menu for Camp 1:
CANDIED SWEET POTATOES
CREAM OF PEA SOUP
ROAST PORK HAM
MINCE MEAT PIE
Oconee State Park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on June 16, 2004.
related post: “He is now in the C.C. Camp”