Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
Opportunity for All? The story of the Civilian Conservation Corps on the C&O Canal
The story of Justice William O. Douglas' contribution to preserving the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal for future generations has been widely and justifiably told and retold. A lesser known story of contributions to the preservation of the canal dates some 15 years before Douglas' famous walk. It is the story of young men living in a struggling nation attempting to provide opportunity for all.
In 1939, if you stood where the Carderock picnic pavilion now stands just outside the I-495 loop, you would have been in the center of Camp NP-2-Md., the bustling home of nearly 200 enrollees of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Young men, between the ages of 17 and 25, lived here year-round as they worked to provide for themselves and their families while restoring the first 22 miles of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal as a national park. As part of CCC Company 333, each enrollee received dress and work uniforms, was assigned a bunk in a barracks, and received three meals a day. The enrollee's daily life was commanded by reserve officers of the United States Army. Their work projects were supervised by the National Park Service.
Though the challenges of racism have not been eradicated, our nation has come far in providing more opportunities for all of its citizens since the days of the Great Depression and institutionalized segregation. The members of the Civilian Conservation Corps on the C&O Canal and throughout the United States and its territories contributed greatly to the opportunities we experience today in our national and state parks and other public lands. It is only fitting that their contributions be recognized and remembered.