The Civilian Conservation Corps In Nevada
From Boys To Men
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Nevada Press
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List of Illustrations
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The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) has generally been acknowledged by historians as one of the most popular and successful experimental programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Established in 1933, it combined work relief and restoration and preservation of the natural environment. A review of major historical accounts published within the past decade on the New Deal, including biographies of Roosevelt and college ...
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As an archaeologist, Ren�e Corona Kolvet often came across the physical remnants of the Civilian Conservation Corps in remote corners of the state. She soon realized that archival information was hard to find and that there were very few local residents who remembered the Depression-era program. Although several federal agencies have prepared informative local or regional reports, there was no comprehensive history of the CCC in Nevada to ...
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A comprehensive study of the Civilian Conservation Corps in Nevada could not have succeeded without the support and knowledge of many individuals. Our decision to conduct an archival and oral history study piqued the interest of many citizens, historians, and archaeologists. Our study officially got off the ground when Stephen Davis of the Nevada Humanities Committee agreed that there was a need for a book on this topic.
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Nevada is a state of many contradictions. The federal government owns nearly 90 percent of the land, which helps to keep its frontier spirit alive. Historically, its citizens have preferred to be independent of government regulation and unnecessary intrusions into their ways of life. The exception, however, was in the 1930s when a culmination of events and conditions forced even the proudest of citizens to reconsider this position.
Part I: The Nation, Nevada, and the New Deal
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Chapter 1. A Nation Brought to Its Knees
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Like millions of young men, Ralph Hash graduated from high school only to find that there were no job opportunities or money available for a college education.1 Worse yet, there were no job prospects on the horizon. American leaders feared for the future of this generation and with good reason— nearly fifteen million unemployed men were under the age of twenty-five.
Chapter 2. Nevada Fights Back
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Nevada’s population barely exceeded ninety thousand in 1930, making it the least-populated state in the Union.1 Despite its sparse citizenry, the state received more than its proportional share of federal monies, due to three powerful Democrats in Washington, D.C.—Senators Patrick McCarran and Key Pittman and Congressman James Scrugham. At a Churchill County banquet, junior senator McCarran boasted: “We’ve brought into ...
Chapter 3. The CCC Program in Nevada
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Nevada seemed like a foreign country to many of the young men from the urban East Coast, wooded South, and midwestern heartland. Some enrollees never adjusted to the treeless landscape with saline playas, blustery winds, and so few people. The paramilitary lifestyle also caused uneasiness in some young men. Despite frequent bouts of homesickness, the majority completed at least one six-month commitment.
Chapter 4. Outsiders and Small-Town Folk
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The fortunate communities that were granted CCC camps welcomed the federal funds that trickled into their economies. However, competition to obtain a new camp was stiff and required considerable lobbying from both the community and its national representatives. An editorial in the Mineral County Independent of Hawthorne summarized how the hard work of local officials paid off:
Part II: CCC Contributions and the Legacy Left Behind
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Chapter 5. Rehabilitating the Public Domain: The Grazing Service CCC Program
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The Civilian Conservation Corps operated fifty-nine main camps in Nevada, many simultaneously. While some programs were short-lived, others such as Camps Muddy River and Newlands operated seasonally or year-round for most of the CCC’s nine-year existence.
Chapter 6. Irrigating the Desert West: The Bureau of Reclamation’s CCC Program
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The Bureau of Reclamation was painfully aware of the deteriorated condition of the early reclamation projects that were authorized by the Reclamation Act of 1902. At a Western States Water Conference in July 1933, President Roosevelt and members of the Senate discussed the persistent droughts, neglected irrigation systems, and inadequate storage for downstream users.
Chapter 7. Developing National Wildlife Refuges: The Fish and Wildlife Service Program
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administered an important CCC program in terms of its contribution to Nevada’s national wildlife refuges (NWRs). Following years of inadequate support, federal funds and free CCC labor became available at a critical time in wildlife-management history. The 1920s and early 1930s were troubling times for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s predecessor agencies: ...
Chapter 8. Building Playgrounds in the Desert: The National Park Service and the CCC
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Nevada residents wished for more parks and outdoor recreation facilities long before New Deal monies made them a reality. Nevada officials were also keenly aware of the revenue that tourism would generate for the rural state. But major obstacles stood in the way. Serious plans to develop recreation facilities were hampered by inadequate roadways and a lack of service facilities.
Chapter 9. Military Expansion in Hawthorne: The Navy and the CCC
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A tragic accident at Lake Denmark, New Jersey, in 1926 helped to seal Nevada’s future as a major military hub. The explosion at the U.S. Navy’s ammunition depot totally destroyed the facility and wreaked havoc in the nearby community. Twenty-one people lost their lives, and scores more were injured in the mishap.1 A thorough investigation stated the obvious— for the sake of safety, munitions needed to be stored in a rural, less populated area.
Chapter 10. Building Ranger Stations and Mountain Parks: The National Forest Service’s CCC Program
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In recent years, the U.S. Forest Service has devoted considerable effort to documenting its historic structures and improvements on national and state forest lands. In fact, one study shows that 160 of the Humboldt- Toiyabe Forest’s 300 buildings are now considered historic, that is, more than fifty years old.1 One does not have to look far to find evidence of the contributions of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Chapter 11. Controlling Erosion Along Nevada Waterways: The CCC and the Soil Conservation Service
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Persistent droughts and a series of floods took their toll on Nevada’s agriculture industry in the 1930s and early 1940s. Erosion was a statewide problem, although the situation was most severe along the lower Colorado River watersheds in southern Nevada. Historically, major floods ravaged the region about every fifteen years with smaller episodes in between.1 All too often, farmers living along the Meadow Valley Wash and the Muddy and ...
Chapter 12. The CCC Legacy in Nevada
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More than seventy years have passed since the founding of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Most Nevadans do not remember the contributions of these young men or the how the Great Depression affected the rural state. We rarely question who carved out the backcountry roads, lined the canals, or built the campgrounds with signature rock walls, fire pits, and park trails that we use and enjoy today. Many New Deal projects have disappeared or ...
Appendix: Compilation of Nevada CCC Camps and Their Supervisory Agencies
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Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 52 b/w photos, 2 line art, 1 map
Publication Year: 2006