The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt within 30 days of his inauguration — on April 5, 1933. It was deactivated by Congress six months after Pearl Harbor, on June 30, 1942.
An estimated 90 percent of its alumni went on to serve, and many thousands were killed, in World War II combat.
Not even 200 of those men survive nationwide today, as 2019 passes into 2020.
The Lake Okeechobee News is profiling those who still live in Florida, most of whom are still able come to the annual CCC Festival every November at Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring. It was the first Florida state park, partially constructed by the CCC.
This corps was also known as “Roosevelt’s Tree Army,” the “Tree Troopers,” the “Soil Soldiers,” the “CCCs” — some said that stood for “Colossal Collage of Calluses” — or, simply, “the C’s.”
Three million, four hundred sixty-three thousand, seven hundred sixty-six men became “CCC Boys,” enrolled during those 110 months. The average enrollee was 18 or 19 — but many coerced their parents to cheat and say they were older so they could join at 15 or 16. The average boy weighed 147 pounds and stood 5-foot-8. In the first three months, they gained an average of 12 pounds because the CCC camps provided “three squares” a day during those Great Depression years.
Here’s a short fact list, quoted from the April 1995 issue of Arizona’s ‘CCC’ Magazine:
Juniors, Veterans, and Native American Enrollees: 2,876,638
Average Number of Camps Operating in U.S. Per Year: 1,643
Total Number of Different Camps: 4,500
Highest Elevation of CCC Camp: 9,200 feet above sea level, in Colorado
Lowest Elevation of CCC Camp: 270 feet below sea level, in Death Valley, Calif.
Camp Locations: Every state in the Union, plus Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
Total Cost: $3 billion
SOURCES: Stan Cohen, 1960, “The Tree Army:. A Pictorial History of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942,” Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 713 S. Third W, Missoula, Montana 59801.
Fred E. Leake and Ray S. Carter, 1962, “Roosevclt’s Tree Army: A Brief History of the Civilian Conservation Corps.” Prepared and Distributed by the National Association of Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni (NACCCA)
— Chris Felker