Thanks to Elaine’s email, I learned that her father Edgar was in the Civil Convservation Corps (CCC), and thanks to her and Louise, I can add a few details to his story.
In the Great Depression year 1933, Edgar graduated from Gale College along with his twin Ednar and younger brother Garven. Edgar and Garven stayed for an additional year at Gale, the equivalent of the first year at a community college. Louise remembers her dad saying he sold Jewel Tea coffee for a time, going from farm to farm. He must have had a car to do that, but she doesn’t think he held that job for long. With jobs being scarce, he must have made the decision to join up with the CCC.
According to both Elaine and Louise, their father served in the CCC in northern Wisconsin, including planting trees in Nicolet National Forest. He also spent time in the watchtower looking for signs of fire. A family photo adds more detail to the story of his service, with Edgar standing (year unknown) beside a sign bearing the name Long Lake Camp. This Washburn County camp was one of 125 camps in the state by 1937.
Both of Edgar’s daughters recall that he had happy memories of his CCC times. Besides the hard work, he reminisced about the baseball playing they enjoyed in their free time. (That sounds like a Borreson!) Another evidence of his pride in his CCC service was taking his family to a forest where to point out trees planted where the logging boom had left some quite desolate north country. He also was proud that he served as a crew chief for his group. A bonus for this post is a picture of his CCC ring (below).
The advantage of having this photo is that it confirms what I found on the Wisconsin History site: that Edgar was indeed part of the Sixth Corps, Company 651, The Sixth Corps published an annual in 1937 featuring its work in the northern two-thirds of the state, and would you believe? There on page 67 was a photograph of Company 651 with Edgar seated in row 2, second from the left (below). What a happy find!
Louise thinks her father may have been in the CCC three or four years. So he may have joined in about 1935 or thereabouts. After his CCC work, he went to Milwaukee School of Engineering for perhaps two years before being drafted in the Army and sent to England.
I think it’s great to have a family connection to this program that gave benefits to our country that last even into our own times. It was part of a greater conservation effort that recognized our resources are finite and need to be nurtured and treated with respect.
Let conclude this post with a listing of some of the achievements left to Wisconsin by the Civilian Conservation Corps (just through 1937, the date of the above annual — the CCC itself continued to 1942):
- 3,718 acres planted with 3,400,000 trees
- 551 acres of timber stand improvement
- 20 miles of roadside cleanup
- 20,910 acres mapped
- 15 miles of truck trails built
- 58,600 fish stocked
- 50 miles of streams surveyed
- 24 forest fires extinguished
- several buildings constructed (including at Perrot Park – my previous post).
In addition to the long term gains for communities and our state, the CCC gave many young men jobs, experience, skills, pride, and hope in some very tough years. Elaine, Louise, and Arnold, we’re glad your dad connected all of us to this history.
For more about the CCC in Wisconsin, see Jerry Apps’ new book.