We live in a fast-moving world today, but occasionally we should stop and look back to some of the better things that occurred in our country.

Many of the younger generation today is not aware of some of these events. It is my opinion, given the time and conditions, that one of the outstanding events in our country was the formation of the Civilian Conservation Corps under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. This program and others were started at a time when people had no jobs. None was available because we were still suffering from The Great Depression.

The Civilian Conservation Corps was founded in 1933. Even today, we are still reaping the harvest from this program as we use our parks and many other things such as sidewalks, lodges, drainage, forestry, roads and others that was built by the CCC.

The purpose of the CCC was to provide work and training for unmarried men 17 to 23 years old who needed work. Those that signed up for this served for six months and could re-enlist for another six months.

Several different job skills were learned and applied to jobs after leaving the CCC. Many illiterates were taught to read and write. Each enrollee was paid $30 per month, and $25 of this was sent home to his family. 

During the life of the CCC, about 2,500 camps were maintained in the United States. I remember truckloads of men on their way to different work sites passing Big Hill school, which I attended up to the middle of the fifth grade before my family moved into Grand Tower. As they passed by, we all exchanged hand waves with them.

Some of the work performed by the CCC was planting trees, helping build roads and bridges. They built fire towers and fought forest fires, built parks and monuments, helped build dams, worked on erosion control, dug canals, built fish hatcheries, built fences, operated and repaired heavy equipment and performed many other task throughout our country.

The CCC was considered by Roosevelt to be his pet project, even though during this period many other programs were established — such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA), The National Youth Administration (NYA) and many others. All these programs were good for the country because of the difficult times we were experiencing because of The Great Depression.

In 1942, Roosevelt’s plea went unheard to continue the CCC program and congress voted not to fund it in June of that year. Eight million dollars was approved for shut down cost — thus ending the CCC program.

By this time, World War II had begun and we were fighting a two-front war with Japan and Germany. Most of those who served in the CCC either joined the military or was drafted. There's no doubt that the training these young men had in the CCC was a great advantage to them in the military.

Charles F. Burdick is a lifelong resident of Grand Tower. After graduating from high school, he joined the U.S. Navy and then went on to a 42-year Maritime career including 35 years as Master Pilot. He has been retired for 23 years and enjoys local history and writing poetry.