On-line Book
cover to
The CCC and the NPS
Cover Page




    Brief History of the CCC

    National Park Service Role

     NPS Camps


    Overall Accomplishments



The Civilian Conservation Corps and
the National Park Service, 1933-1942:

An Administrative History
Chapter Three:
The National Park Service Camps
National Park Service Arrowhead

Typical Civilian Conservation Corps storehouse with tools.
Courtesy of the National Archives.

Each year that the CCC existed the programs and projects within camps varied. There were also seasonal and regional differences in the camps as the program evolved based on administrative and legislative changes.


Administrative authority in the ECW/CCC camps was divided between the Army's camp commander, who supervised all the activities of enrollees within the camps, and the park superintendent, who coordinated all project work accomplished. The camp commander was a regular or reserve army officer; he was assisted by a supply sergeant, mess sergeant, and cook. Beginning in 1934 these assistants were replaced by civilian employees who were also supervised by the camp commander. The Army was also responsible for providing a part-time doctor, dentist, chaplain, and, later on, a full-time educational advisor. These men undertook the care and supervision of enrollees in the camps. The park superintendent was responsible for overseeing and developing the work program for the camps. To set up daily work schedules, a camp superintendent was hired for each 200-man camp in the park. Daily work crews were directed by foremen assigned to supervise the work of 40- to 50-men crews. These foremen were classified according to tasks performed, such as insect control, blister rust control, truck trail construction, fire suppression, landscaping, blister rust control checker, and miscellaneous projects. For technical supervision, foresters, park engineers, landscape architects, and historical technicians could be hired. These people would sometimes work for several camps in several national and state park areas. Historical technicians, park engineers, and landscape architects were hired with the concurrence of the NPS chief historian, chief engineer, and chief architect, respectively. Park superintendents could hire skilled workers such as machine operators, construction workers, supervising mechanics, truck trail locators, blacksmiths, tool sharpeners, and tractor and pump mechanics when appropriate (see attached chart). [1]

The park superintendent was responsible for the formulation of the work programs, inspection of the work, and keeping the camp superintendent on his work schedule. The activities of the historians, engineers, architects, foresters, and nature experts were coordinated and directed by the camp superintendent. In some cases, the park superintendent developed programs that extended beyond park boundaries into state and recreational demonstration areas.

State parks officials formulated their own work programs, which were submitted to the Park Service for approval. The Park Service supplied the states with guidelines for what type of work could be undertaken, procedures for establishing camps, regulations governing fiscal transactions, and a variety of other matters. The states chose their own staffs analogous to the Park Service's staff to administer the work programs in the camps. [2]

In 1934 the nomenclature and definition of certain supervisory positions were changed. The Park Service redesignated the camp superintendent to be the project superintendent. The duties defined for this person included the coordination and supervision of civil engineering, construction, maintenance, and developmental projects for a single camp and management of the expenditure of government funds for the work projects of several camps. Under the project superintendents were classifications of foremen assigned various duties in supervising the daily work. A number of the first-period enrollees were selected for the foreman and supervisory positions in the second period of the program. [3]

By 1939 the potential staff positions for a CCC camp had expanded to include a commanding officer, an assistant commanding officer, a staff doctor, a senior leader and assistant leaders, a company clerk, a storekeeper, a supply officer, an infirmary attendant, a steward, first and assistant cooks, a chauffer, a mechanic, an educational adviser, and an assistant educational adviser. Not all camps had people in all these positions. Ten men from each camp could be used by the park for educational, guide, and public contact work. If the enrollees worked on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, they were to be given compensatory time. Enrollees selected for these positions were to be volunteers, have public speaking ability, use good English, be neat in appearance, and have courteous manners. [4]

To monitor the progress of the work, a number of progress reports were required. Camp inspectors were to provide weekly reports to the district offices on the camps visited. The park superintendent was to submit a weekly report on the work in his park, along with statistical data on camp strength, health, and highlights. He also prepared a biweekly narrative report of activity. By August 1933 the requirement for this biweekly report was changed to make it monthly. When the work program was being formulated, the superintendent was required to send copies to the Park Service Branch of Engineering and Branch of Plans and Design in Washington and to the Forestry Division in Berkeley. The camp superintendent was to compile bimonthly progress reports and a narrative construction report upon the completion of each project. [5]

The precise location of camps in national parks and monuments was the responsibility of the Army and the Park Service. At first, all camp locations were to be approved by President Roosevelt; later that authority was delegated to Director Fechner. The camps were to be located on NPS lands near the work projects. Other requirements for campsite selection included their proximity to railway and highway, the attitude of the local populace, the availability of water for the campsite, and the availability of lumber and other building materials. After the Park Service officials selected a suitable site, Army officials would make an inspection. If the Army officials did not find the site satisfactory, they would request the director to disapprove the camp. In an attempt to decentralize the camp selection process, Director Fechner on May 22, 1933, announced that camps could be moved up to 25 miles from their original site without Washington approval. Later, the camps could be located on private lands leased by the Army. [6]

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Last Modified: Fri, May 12 2000 07:08:48 am PDT

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