Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Featured Manuscript: Historic CCC Photos

Collection Note:

The Morristown museum collection includes many historic photographs. Among them are images taken during early constructions and restorations projects, and include images of Park buildings, landscapes, trails, and Civilian Conservation Corps workers.

Morristown's Other Army

Have you ever wondered how Morristown National Historical Park became a park? Morristown NHP is a wonderful community resource that we use for relaxation, exercise and learning. Although Morristown NHP has been a fundamental part of the local landscape for several generations, this was not always the case.

The practice of holding large expanses of land in public trust for parks began in the 19th Century. Yellowstone National Park was the first National Park founded in 1872. In New Jersey it wasn’t until 1903 that the state established its first Historic Site at the Indian King Tavern in Camden County. Then in 1933, in the last days of Herbert Hoover’s presidency, he signed into law creating Morristown NHP. Soon after, Franklin D. Roosevelt took office and gave his ‘Three Essentials for Unemployment Relief’ On March 21, 1933, where he proposed the formation of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). This program became the most popular program of FDR’s New Deal agenda.

Here you see the CCC boys being driven from Morristown to Jockey Hollow for their work building man of the things we still enjoy today like the trails, tour road and the Wick House and Farm.

One of the nicknames given to the CCC is 'Roosevelt's Tree Army.' Here enrollees plant one of many treee behind the Ford Mansion. During the 9 years of the CCC, they planted roughly 3 billion trees throughout the country.

This is a picture of the first CCC camp in Jockey Hollow. This was located right in front of where the replica soldier huts sits now.

The CCC enrollees are going through many of the pottery pieces found during the archaeology digs around the Wick House and Ford Mansion and trying to put them back together.

Do you see any heavy machinery in this photo? The CCC were responsible for building the park road. They used human muscle for as many jobs as possible. The 'boys' in the picture helped built the tour road for only $1 a day. Would you help build a road for $1 a day?

The Wick House was transformed to its present state by the CCC. The men in the foreground are not enrollees in the CCC, but are probably Local Experienced Men (LEMs). These men came from the local community and taught the enrollees various skills, in this case woodworking.

President Roosevelt was interested in preserving the nation’s natural and cultural treasures and focused the CCC on conservation. The CCC built roads, bridges and hiking trails throughout the country. They participated in soil erosion control, planted acres of trees and established forest management practices. In Jockey Hollow the men built many of the trails, did extensive archeology around the Soldiers Huts, Wick Farm and Guerin House. They also constructed the tour road, Wick House garden and replanted the apple orchard at the Wick House.

While completing all this they observed an eight hour work day and a five day work week. This left plenty of time to participate in recreational and educational activities offered in the camp. Enrollees earned $30 a month. They were allowed to keep only $5 while the remaining $25 was sent home to support their parents and siblings. While in the camp the enrollees also received room, board and medical care.

The towns and villages where the camps were located received just as many benefits as the enrollees did. While the camps were in session, local tradesmen were hired as “Local Experienced Men’ or ‘LEMs’ for short. These men trained the CCC enrollees in various skills needed to complete the jobs assigned to the camp. Also many of the supplies and food needed in the camp was purchased from local merchants. The ‘boys’ were taken into town most weekends and were able to spend some of their hard earned money at local stores such as ice parlors, movie theaters and restaurants.

The CCC worked in all the states and territories of the U.S. for 9 years from 1933 to 1942. During this time about 3 million boys signed up for the CCC and their accomplishments were amazing. Throughout the life of the program the CCC planted upwards of 3 billion trees, constructed approximately 125,000 miles of road, built more than 3,000 fire lookout towers and spent 8 million man hours fighting forest fires.

Next time you are in a park, especially Jockey Hollow, take a minute to appreciate the hard work that had to be done for us to enjoy Jockey Hollow and other public lands the way we do today. If you would like to learn more about the CCC at Morristown NHP join one of the many CCC related Ranger led activities.

Blog entry by Andy Danneker, Park Ranger, Morristown NHP

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