Tag Archives: CCC

From War to War

Thomas G. Alexander
Utah, the Right Place
Condensed by Brittany Nelson

Utah men, to prove their loyalty to the nation, were particularly active in volunteering for both World War I and World War II. When World War I started, Utah’s citizens responded to the call for men and more than 21,000 were enlisted in the land troops and almost 3,500 for the Navy and Marines. Utahns put to rest the old canard that they were disloyal—in fact, more than half of those serving in the war were volunteers rather than draftees. The citizens on the home front also proved their loyalty by oversubscribing to the Liberty Bond drives, five of which were held in the state.

As in other parts of the nation, Utah prospered economically during the war, since its copper, coal, and steel were needed, and the fruits, sugar, vegetables, and meat it produced were also important for sustaining both the armed forces and the civilian citizenry.

Utah’s cities enjoyed relative prosperity during the 1920s—the growth of manufacturing, administration, business service, and transportation caused people to feel prosperous times were here. The farmers and the miners were exceptions—farm prices bottomed out and prices for metals fluctuated. It was a difficult time for farm families who had invested in fruit trees or in sugar beets—both earlier considered “sure bets.” On the other hand, new areas of interest, such as dairying, became more important to the state’s economy. Products included various cheese and evaporated milk. By 1915, Utah had built a number of canneries and ranked fifth in the nation in producing canned fruits and vegetables. With Ogden leading the way, meat-dressing and packing facilities appeared before the end of the century and afterward in Salt Lake City, adding another industry to Utah’s roster.

During the 1920s, one of the major issues before Utahns was the question of public lands. Since the federal government owned almost 70 percent of the state, the issues were real for local citizens, who were irked that all of this land escaped local taxation. They were also concerned about the difficulty of raising matching funds for federal dollars to participate in the new federal highway-building program. One bright spot was the Jones Act of 1927, passed with the support of Governor George Dern, which declared the transfer of mineral rights to the states (opposed by federal bureaucrats) from federal lands as a matter of public policy. Thus the state recovered mineral rights in areas such as school and sections.

Unfortunately, Utah was not well positioned for the events of the 1930s. The national Depression adversely affected the state. Thousands of farm, mining, and manufacturing workers were put on furlough. One bright spot was that although farmers’ incomes were lower than in the 1920s, many Utahns kept farm animals, such as chickens, pigs, and cows, which helped families make ends meet. Thus it was no surprise that when presidential elections were held, this Republican state supported Franklin D. Roosevelt and turned out longtime Senator Reed Smoot, in spite of the fact that the Mormon hierarchy unofficially supported the GOP.

Utah, as many other western states, benefited from conservation programs enacted by the New Deal as well as public works projects of the WPA and other federal agencies. Conservation and irrigation projects received a boost and the highway program continued so hard surface roads linked Utah. The number of Utah farms peaked by 1935, at 35,000, showing that finally a maximum amount of land was in use and there was no room for further pension. After that date, a slow decline set in the state that has never been reversed, especially in light of the increasing urbanization of the state. Only by the end of the 1930s did the economy begin to swing upward. On the horizon was the coming to Utah of the federal government, in terms of air bases, supply depots, Army and Navy facilities, and related defense manufacturing, which would change the state forever in the next decade.


The Civilian Conservation Corps


Civilian Conservation Corps in Davis County, Utah

Civilian Conservation Corps at work in Davis County, Utah










Kenneth W. Baldridge
Utah History Encyclopedia, 1994

When Franklin D. Roosevelt took over as president in March 1933 the country was in the midst of the worst depression ever experienced in the United States. Among the organizations established to help relieve the situation was the Civilian Conservation Corps, not only one of the first to begin operations across the country but also one of the most successful of the various "alphabetical agencies" of the New Deal period. Originally referred to only as Emergency Conservation Work (ECW), Roosevelt's CCC designation had been in popular use from the beginning, and its nicknames "Three C's," "Triple C's," or simply "The C's" were widely used. The CCC was designed to simultaneously solve two of the major problems facing the country: provide financial relief and help implement conservation projects.

Several government departments were included among the "technical agencies" which supervised the work of the 116 camps that existed at one time or another in twenty-seven of Utah's twenty-nine counties over the nine-year life of the CCC. The United States Forest Service supervised forty-seven camps; the Division of Grazing---now Bureau of Land Management---had twenty-four camps working on erosion control projects and building reservoirs. The six Bureau of Reclamation camps worked primarily on irrigation schemes, especially the construction of the Midview Dam and lateral canals on the Moon River Project in the Uinta Basin, one of the biggest projects in the state. Range reseeding was one of the main activities of the eight camps of the Soil Conservation Service. The National Park Service had seven camps, primarily in Zion and Bryce National Parks, and it also, along with the city of Provo, jointly supervised the only "Metropolitan Area" camp in Utah. In addition to these, there were also camps assigned to the state of Utah for erosion control and work on state parks, as well as for the U. S. Biological Survey, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U. S. Army. Work assignments for the camps were laid out and supervised by the technical agency in charge, although each camp was under the command of a regular or reserve office of the U. S. Army, which handled the logistics of supply and administration for the program.

The first CCC camp to be completed in Utah was located about ten miles up American Fork Canyon. After establishing a temporary camp, forty young men, or "enrollees," most of whom were between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three, began construction of two barracks on 17 May 1933. It was July, however, before seventy-five LEMs, or "local experienced men," arrived from Salt Lake County to fill the complement of two hundred men. The LEMs were hired from the ranks of unemployed carpenters, farmers, lumbermen, miners, and others who had experience in handling horses, men, and equipment, and who could serve as project leaders. While the population of the state determined the number of junior enrollees, the quote of LEMs was based on the number of camps in the state.

The state was treated quite well by the CCC due to the great availability of projects, and for most of the life of the Civilian Conservation Corps, Utah had between thirty and thirty-five camps at any given time. Based on its population, Utah generally had a higher percentage of its manpower quota employed than did most of its neighbors. There were 16,872 junior enrollees from Utah, 746 Indian enrollees, and 4,456 supervisory personnel. In all, there were 22,074 Utah men who were provided employment by the CCC during the nine-year period, plus an additional 23,833 individuals from out of state who worked on projects in Utah.

There were enrollees from the streets of New York City and Ohio, as well as mountain boys from Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and West Virginia. Regardless of where the enrollees were from, the camps were occupied by young men who had been through some extremely difficult times and recognized the emergency program as an opportunity for basic survival and even for advancement. The work of the CCC was varied. The corpsmen built trails, phone lines, campground improvements, fences, bridges, cabins, and low-standard roads; they built check and silt dams for flood control and the curbing of erosion; they dug out poisonous larkspur and other noxious weeds and instituted insect and rodent control. Several of the Forest Service's CCC camps began many of the loop roads through the canyons of the Wasatch Range. In addition to these jobs at which they regularly worked, the CCC force constituted a 5,500-man fire brigade, units of which could be mobilized any time for forest fire suppression.

In September 1933 the Herald Journal of Logan reflected the attitude prevailing at the time. "One of the most completely successful of all the items on the New Deal program seems to be the forestry work of the Civilian Conservation Corps. . . So well is the project working out that a person is inclined to wonder if it might not be a good thing to make this forest army a permanent affair. . . All of this of course would be pretty expensive but it might be money well spent. . . certainly the question deserves serious consideration. This forest army is too good an outfit to be discarded off-hand."

There were plenty of projects to support this well-deserved praise: the riprapping along the Virgin River, the bridge over the San Rafael River, the campgrounds up Logan Canyon, the rodeo grounds at Tooele, the Bear River Refuge, the terracing overlooking Willard and Bountiful, and the dozens of reservoirs and springs on the western desert would all qualify. There were also some major projects to which individual camps were devoted for several years. The construction of all-weather roads into Boulder, for example, occupied CCC crews from 1933 until 1941 before that isolated community could be linked year-round to the outside world. Other major projects included five years spent improving bird refuges on Bear River and Ogden Bay.

The CCC performed admirably in many emergency situations over the years. The young men all attended fire-fighting school their first week in camp and the training was put to use many times. The early 1930s was a time of severe drought in Utah, and 1934 was the worst in terms of fire-fighting hours logged by the CCC---nearly twelve thousand man-days, more than one-fourth the total fire time for the full nine years. The year 1936 featured another seriously dry summer, and the CCC crew near Milford spent ten days on the three-thousand-acre Wah Wah Mountain fire, one of the largest fires ever fought in Utah.

The following winter of 1936--37 saw heroism become commonplace as Utah experienced one of her worst winter seasons. Operating in what many people considered the coldest weather in Vernal history, CCC crews from the Division of Grazing camp worked around the clock for several days in early January 1937 in temperatures of thirty and forty degrees below zero clearing roads for school buses and for mail and coal deliveries, hauling feed on sleds for thirty-five miles to save starving sheep, and rescuing a sick and bedfast family who had not had a fire for thirty-six hours. In southern Utah, local stockmen requested help from a CCC camp in St. George to try to get feed to herds of cattle and sheep, as well as to people. In eight days of continuous travel, the relief caravan of eight CCC and four private trucks led by an R-5 caterpillar tractor battled snowdrifts for fifty-two miles to Little Tank in the Arizona Strip with twelve tons of cottonseed cake and grain. The situation was grim all across southern Utah.

In addition to regular work projects that benefited the mountains and deserts, the CCC also created good public relations by participating in community work of a volunteer nature; this included projects at Pleasant Grove elementary school, St. George city park, and a small earth-and-rock dam to create an artificial lake 1,000 feet long for the Boy Scouts at Camp Kiesel near Ogden. Enrollees at the American Fork camp worked with local Mormon youths preparing the grounds and planting lawns at Mutual Dell, an LDS campground in American Fork Canyon. In cooperation with Brigham Young University, enrollees installed 5,000 feet of pipe in a new sprinkling system at Aspen Grove. Opening a Forest Service camp in Sheep Creek Canyon in Utah's northeast corner brought a new way of life to the residents of Manila and the surrounding area; the camp had the only newspaper, telegraph, and doctor in the county.

In addition to the fences, trails, phone lines, roads, and bridges that had been constructed; in addition to the acres of land that had been replanted, terraced, or reseeded; and in addition to the fire-suppression and rescue work that had been carried out by CCC crews, their presence brought direct financial benefits to the state. Enrollees received wages of thirty dollars monthly, of which twenty-five dollars was sent home to their families, while the young men were allowed the remaining five dollars to spend on themselves through the month. More than $125,000 a month thus was pumped into the state's economy through the wages of the Utah enrollees and LEMs alone. Community leaders and CCC officials estimated that a community would benefit financially by $50,000 to $60,000 every year a camp was in the vicinity. Utah merchants profited from government contracts for lumber, equipment, and foodstuffs. The Federal Security Agency estimated that by the time active operations came to a halt in the summer of 1942, the CCC had spent $52,756,183.00 in the state, and Utah ranked seventh in the nation in CCC expenditures per capita.

With the beginning of World War II, the Great Depression came to an end and the CCC folded in July 1942. The army officers in charge of the camps were transferred to military assignments; most of the camp personnel either entered the armed services or became involved in defense work. The Salt Lake Tribune bade farewell to the CCC in an editorial of 3 July 1942 in which thanks were expressed for the physical accomplishments and recognition granted for the human achievements as well: "More than all else it aided youth to get a new grip on destiny and obtain a saner outlook on the needs of the nation. . . . The CCC may be dead but the whole country is covered with lasting monuments to its timely service."

The Civilian Conservation Corps Was a Boon to Utah

Civilian Conservation Corps at work

Civilian Conservation Corps at work

W. Paul Reeve
History Blazer, February 1995

Compared to the rest of the nation Utah was hit particularly hard by the Great Depression of the 1930s. In 1933 Utah's annual per capita income of $300 was a mere 80 percent of the national average, and 35.8 percent of Utah's work force was unemployed. The New Deal legislation of Franklin D. Roosevelt created sweeping changes and brought federal government involvement to relieve the nationwide suffering. One of the New Deal's most popular programs, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) had a profound effect in Utah.

The CCC aimed to provide work for the nation's estimated 5 to 7 million unemployed young men who ranged in age from sixteen to twenty-five. In order to qualify for CCC employment, men in this age category had to be jobless, unmarried, and from families with parents on relief. Across the country applications far outnumbered allotments, and in Salt Lake County the situation was no different: over five men applied for each vacancy on the initial enrollment. Pay was $30 per month, $25 of which was sent home to help support the worker's family.

On April 5, 1933, President Roosevelt signed the bill creating the CCC, and less than six weeks later construction started on several Utah camps. Most were like the camp built in American Fork Canyon. It consisted of officers' quarters, a mess hall and kitchen, a shower room, a hospital, a recreation hall, and utility buildings. A standard camp had four barracks and 200 men. During the CCC's nine years of operation 116 camps were built throughout Utah, although not all were used at once.

The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management were the largest users of the corpsmen. From 1933 to 1942 CCC workers planted more than 3.2 million trees on Utah's mountains and range lands. They also built several large dams, including the preliminary work on the Deer Creak Dam. They built roads, renewed streams and lakes, developed and improved thousands of campgrounds and recreational areas, and constructed several ranger stations that are still in use.

The purpose of the CCC extended beyond providing employment and improving the land. Workers also learned valuable skills that increased their chances of obtaining permanent employment when jobs became available. During an average eighteen months of service a CCC worker could gain skills in a variety of vocations such as rock masonry, carpentry, road construction, and cooking. In addition, the daily discipline and regimen of the corps created a group of war-ready young men, many of whom went on to serve in World War II.

Before this program was terminated, the CCC had spent over $52 million in Utah and brought thousands of youth from across the nation to work in the state. It helped keep Utah's economy alive, renewed the state's environment, and provided job training and military discipline to its team of youthful workers.


“Alphabet” Agencies in Utah County

Richard Neitzel Holzapfel
History of Utah County

When Roosevelt took office in March 1933, the first of his New Deal programs, the Federal Emergency Relief Act of 1933 (FERA), was approved on 12 May. Although the act extended federal participation in relief for two more years, it changed the nature of the funding from loans to direct grants to the states. Roosevelt established a host of New Deal "alphabet agencies" (so named for their abbreviations) such as the CCC, PWA, WPA, AAA, RA, and NYA, which grew as the agencies pumped increasing amounts of money into the economy. Enthusiasm for the New Deal and the resulting economic security increased among most Utah County residents. Increased federal activity was integral to the county during the Depression. Between 1933 and 1939, only eight states---Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Idaho---received more federal aid per capita than Utah. Federal participation in Utah's land management, reclamation, mining, agriculture, and transportation sectors antedated the Depression; but federal involvement escalated to unprecedented levels during the 1930s. Projects that had been discussed for years were finally approved, funded, and constructed. They included Provo River projects and extensive terracing of the Wasatch Range for erosion control. The Civilian Conservation Corps not only was one of the first organizations to begin operations in Utah County but also was one of the most successful.

The CCC's major role in Utah County was to help address two separate but interrelated problems: provide financial relief and help implement conservation projects in the region. The U. S. Forest Service supervised erosion-control projects in the Wasatch Mountains adjacent to Utah Valley. The National Park Service, along with the city of Provo, jointly supervised the only "metropolitan area" camp in Utah. The first CCC camp to be completed in Utah was located about ten miles up American Fork Canyon. After establishing a temporary camp, forty young "enrollees," most of who were between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three, began construction of two barracks on 17 May 1933. By July seventy-five local, experienced men (LEMs) arrived to fill the base complement of two hundred men.

A flurry of activity in Utah County began in 1933 when the CCC began to manage land erosion in several ways. A pilot program of range reseeding proved a success in Sheep Creek (the rangeland between Spanish Fork and Springville), and mountain contour terracing was successfully completed in Little Rock Canyon near Provo. The CCC also accomplished much of the preliminary work on Deer Creek Dam and the related Provo River project, including an extensive system of dams, tunnels, and canals to bring water from the Weber and Duchesne rivers into the Provo River to fill Deer Creek Reservoir.

The county's 1934 quota was 226 men of the state's 1,741 CCC workers for that year. Based on economic need in urban areas affected by the drought of 1934, each community in the county was allotted a certain number of trained and untrained workers. Provo received six experienced and seventy-nine inexperienced workers; Springville, one experienced and nineteen inexperienced worker; American Fork, Payson, and Lehi, one experienced and sixteen inexperienced each; and Spanish Fork, one experienced and nineteen inexperienced. The allotment also provided for an additional twenty-two experienced and forty-seven inexperienced workers from the county and permitted residents to apply for the positions.

In addition to regular work projects that benefited the mountains and rangeland in Utah County, the CCC also created good public relations by participating in community work of a volunteer nature, including a project at Pleasant Grove Elementary School. Enrollees at American Fork worked with local Mormon youth, preparing the grounds and planting lawns at Mutual Dell, an LDS campground in American Fork Canyon. In cooperation with BYU, enrollees installed 5,000 feet of pipe for a new sprinkling system at Aspen Grove. In 1933 the CCC began to build a trail from the middle of the Timpanogos Cave Trail around the cliffs to the entrance of Hansen's Cave, and in 1936 the CCC finished that part of the trail. By the time the CCC's activities came to a halt in 1942, the agency had spent nearly $53 million in Utah---ranking Utah seventh in the nation in CCC expenditures per capita.

Simultaneously, federal legislation reached into the private economic sector, extending credit as well as mortgage protection to farmers, regulating crop production, and providing social security to the aged and the disabled. New Deal programs also poured millions of dollars into construction or renovation of roads, airports, and public buildings such as schools. In Lehi, federal funds were used in 1934 to lay a new deck on the Jordan River Bridge and to gravel the road two miles west. Lehi's city waterworks were upgraded during the following year. Bleachers at the local high school football field were added in 1936 as a result of federal funds, and a $14,000 grant helped upgrade the Lehi Hospital (which had been donated to the community by Dr. Elmo Eddington so the facility could qualify for federal funds) into an eighteen-bed facility in 1937.

Another important cooperative effort in Utah County between the federal government and local residents was the construction of the Springville Museum of Art by the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA). Designed by Claud S. Ashworth, this Spanish Colonial Revival-style building was an important addition to the county's cultural community. By 1935, local residents felt that the ever-increasing art collection at Springville High School needed a larger facility for its preservation and display. Nebo School District donated the lot, the city of Springville donated approximately $29,000 in equipment and materials, the LDS church donated $20,000 or more, and the federal government, through the WPA, spent $54,000 on the project. Work began on 23 November 1935.

The WPA was responsible for the manufacturing of tile for the museum. The work was completed under the direction of Virgil Hafen, a local artist. Red clay was taken from the mountains near Thistle and combined with gray clay found near the southeast limits of Springville. The result produced a natural color tone of tan, rose, and deep red. The building was completed and dedicated in 1937 by LDS church apostle David O. McKay to be a "sanctuary of beauty and a temple of meditation."

Although most of the New Deal agencies were organized for stop-gap relief purposes, the agencies permanently broadened federal interest and involvement in Utahns' lives. Unprecedented federal outlays altered the social landscape of Utah, making the 1930s an era of modernization---including mechanical harvesters and sprayers, progressive irrigation projects, an interurban train, trucks to transport Utah's produce to Los Angeles and other cities, and medical cooperatives. Trends toward mechanization, electrification, commercialization, and specialization underway well before the Great Depression drew vigor from New Deal funds.

Another ambitious federal program focused on agricultural reform. The federal government, through resettlement agencies, planned to relocate thousands of families from submarginal farms, placing them on more viable tracts of land. Some farm families from Widtsoe in Garfield County were relocated in Utah County. Reed Reynolds, for example, lived in Widtsoe and moved to the Benjamin area in 1938 with his wife and three small children. Some of the Reynolds's neighbors and friends from John's Valley moved to Payson, Spanish Fork, and Pleasant Grove. In fact, his mother and father settled in Orem, where they were able to pay cash for a home and orchard with money from the sale of their ranch in John's Valley. They were able to do so because they owned a large tract of land with some water rights; those with small tracts and no water rights were less fortunate.

The federal government brought the resettlement families into the county, showed them which properties were for sale, and let them decide which ones they wanted to purchase. Extra money to purchase the land and farm equipment came in the form of a loan from the government. Reynolds recalled fondly, "I think it was a wonderful thing. Actually because we would have starved to death there. It just got down to where we couldn't do it."