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Franklin D. Roosevelt

President Roosevelt's Walnut Creek CCC Camp

Franklin D. Roosevelt 41%

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In response to the Depression that hung over the nation in the early 1930s, newly-elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt created many programs designed to put Americans back to work. One of those programs was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). It was designed to bring together the nation's young men and the land in an effort to save them both. It was only 37 days from FDR's inauguration on March 4, 1933, to the induction of the first CCC enrollee. It was open to men between the ages of 18 and 25 (changed in 1937 to 17-28) who were unmarried, unemployed and physically sound. Young men flocked to enroll for the six-month stint (which could be renewed three times). They were paid $22 to $45 per month, with a requirement that most be sent back to family. They lived in camps, wore uniforms and adhered to military-style discipline. Enrollees included all races, with a total of 3.5 million men serving in every state, as well as Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in several thousand camps, until the program's abolishment in July 1942. The CCC worked on improving millions of acres of federal and state lands: building parks, new roads, wells and reservoirs, waterways, fire towers, trails, fencing, telephone lines, fighting fires, planting billions of trees and much more. There were 28 camps in Arizona with several in the Prescott area.

The first two camps in the Prescott area, both established in 1933, were F-18, with members of Company 820 in Groom Creek, and F-19, Company 822, at Thumb Butte. Later, other large camps in the Prescott area were F-62 at Lynx Creek, F-20 at the old fairgrounds and F-33 (Company 3320 winter camp) at Mayer and F-79 (Company 3320 summer camp) at Walnut Creek. Actual records from some of the companies and camps are difficult to locate and verification is elusive since 68 years have elapsed since the camps were abandoned in 1941.

In 1933, a "fly" or "spike" (temporary) camp of 11 "boys" from F-20 was set up at the Walnut Creek Ranger Station to strengthen levees, repair fences, paint a building, and build stock tanks. Later, F-79 (Company 3320) was established in June of 1939 at Walnut Creek. The construction of the camp was listed as "portable" (primarily tents) and was probably used from June to November in 1939, 1940 and 1941. For the winter months, Company 3320 moved to "rigid" quarters in Mayer, where the structures were constructed of wood and considerably warmer. This seasonal use of camps F-79 and F-33 caused them to be considered "spike" camps and may not have been inspected by CCC supervisors. Therefore, no information on these two camps is available from civilian records of the National Archives, nor were they listed in the National Advocates for CCC Alumni (NACCCA) because they compiled their data and lists primarily from the inspection reports.
  




Camp F-79 housed approximately 200 "boys" (four to a tent) with the officers, staff and technicians in other tents. Other portable structures, totaling approximately 60, housed the mess hall, kitchen, supply, infirmary, bath and latrine, blacksmith shop, etc.

According to Ralph Zartman, who was a CCC "boy" in 1940-1941 in Company 3320, most of the older boys were from Pittsburgh, Pa. Ralph, now in his mid-80s and living in his hometown of York, Pa., says the camp commander was Lt. Albert Bruni. A.V. Blalock was the subaltern, Dr. Coleman was the physician and Mr. Davis was the educational adviser. The work that was done that summer was primarily roadwork and building fences. They also cleared a spring northwest of camp and ran a water line for about one mile to cattle troughs. Jay Eby, retired from the U.S. Forest Service, recalled that the 3 Cs built a road from Walnut Creek to Camp Wood, which was just north of the now-existing road. The 3 Cs did erosion control and juniper removal on ranches such as the Cross U and Seven V. Mr. Eby was also aware of the trash pile from the camp, which is just north of the site - more about that in Part II.

This and other Days Past articles are available at Sharlot.org/archives.

The public is welcome to submit articles for Da. s Past consideration. Please contact Scott Anderson at Sharlot Hall Museum Archives at 445-3122.

 

By JUDY STOYCHEFF - June 13, 2009

 

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