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December 9: The Civilian Conservation Corps

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The Civilian Conservation Corps was established in 1933 to provide jobs for unemployed men during the Great Depression. Over the nine years of its existence the Corps, known as the “CCC,” employed about three million men. They were paid thirty dollars a month, a princely sum during the depths of the Depression. Most of the money was sent home to their families.

The men worked on forest management, flood control, and various conservation projects. They also helped develop national parks and historic sites. The CCC was active in North Dakota. From 1934 to 1941, the North Dakota State Historical Society sponsored three CCC companies with about two hundred men in each company. With little more than strong backs and hand tools, they constructed roads, trails, culverts, and buildings.

On this date in 1935, articles in the Bismarck Tribune made it clear that the CCC was very busy in the state. Camp superintendents and engineers planned to meet in Bismarck to discuss projects for the following year. Thirty men would meet over the course of several days. They would focus on water projects. Six crews would be kept together over the winter to do surveys and make plans for work in the spring. Keeping the teams together meant they could start work quickly, as soon as the weather permitted.

The CCC projects for North Dakota also included efforts to improve wild bird populations, which would lead to better hunting. Plans included planting seeds of plants that would attract birds, building trails, and constructing observation towers. The men would also remove unnecessary structures, plant cover for wildlife, and build dikes. A safe haven for ducks was established in Stutsman County, and workers would continue to develop a recreational area at the site by building dikes, eighty miles of boundary fences, and putting up telephone lines.

During the Great Depression, the country invested in the American people, providing dignified work as the country invested in the future – an investment that remains with us today.

Dakota Datebook by Carole Butcher


Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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