Defining Moments - CCC Camp Established
The establishment of a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp at Wind Cave
The monthly and annual superintendent reports for decades were full of pleas for additional funds. Superintendent Anton Snyder wrote in June of 1928, "When I say that the season has been successful I mean to imply that the travel has been heavier, and that by a loyal and energetic ranger force the chaos of the heavy travel days has been reduce to sufficient harmony to send most of the people away smiling. This in spite of rough roads, lack of water, a poorly lighted cave, and no facilities whatsoever for the comfort of the visitor while he is here.
There is going to come a time and not far distant, either, when our puny capacity to operate is going to fail, just as an engine will stall under a load far too great for its power. Now is the time if ever to begin to make some improvements tomorrow may be too late. I must emphatically advise you that the situation is actually serious and unless our estimates are given more substantial recognition by the Budget [sic] and by Congress I am afraid we are sunk."
After decades of budgetary neglect resulting in failing roads, buildings, and visitor services, the little engine talked about by Superintendent Snyder had done the job and held out until July 16, 1934, when a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was established at the park. President Franklin Roosevelt initiated this program to employ men to work on conservation projects throughout the country. The creation of a CCC camp in the park meant a steady work force, supervised by professionals, that would build, stone by stone, bucket by bucket, facilitates that would allow for the management and visitation of the park. The camp was in operation until 1942. With 200 local boys assigned to it, they built many of the structures which later became the Wind Cave National Historic District listed on the Register of Historic Places. It is hard to overstate the pivotal roll the CCC played in saving the park and preserving its wonders.
Did You Know?
Wind Cave is the first cave in the world to be designated as a national park. That occurred on January 9, 1903.