CCC Camp at Watoga State Park
Watoga State Park is the largest of its kind, measuring just over 10,000 ares. It was home to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Company 1525. The camp was staffed by many young men that were seeking employment during the Great Depression. More than 55,000 men were involved with the CCC in West Virginia alone. The CCC was responsible for constructing the facilities for Watoga State Park, beginning in 1934. Watoga is just one of many state and national parks across the United States that was created through the CCC program during the Great Depression.
- This image provides a quick glance to what the men at the CCC camps experienced every day, this photo is said to be later in the years because the rafters are present. This was the home of thousands of men that passed through Watoga for six months, for six months this was their home. These men were here to provide, they weren’t here for a vacation. Though it looks rough these men were able to lay down and rest after a long days work. You can see how close the beds were in this photo, there were so many friendships and hatreds while these men were here; you could have gained a best friend in the course of six months and then once your time was up you had to say your goodbyes and depart for possibly forever. Though this wasn’t the best home or the best bed, these men were here so that their families back home could have better than what they had; they were here so that they could go home to a bed. Nobody really knows what relationships were formed or what relationships were lost but this picture gives the viewer thousands of scenarios to choose from.
- This is a current picture of Watoga State park, its beauty is astonishing but the history behind it is breathtaking. Not many people know that this lake is only here because the thousands of men that worked on it every day; luckily the park provides information on the history that is so visible if you know exactly where to look. On some of the trails there are even small log cabins used as a pit stop for people on their long hike, Honeybee Trail being home to one of those. Luckily you can learn about the history when you are checking in, there is a little museum that has lots of artifacts and pictures of the CCC camp that built the foundation of this beautiful park.
Backstory and Context
President Franklin Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) on April 5th, 1933. Due to the Great Depression, there was a significant amount of young men unemployed and Roosevelt included the CCC in his New Deal program. The CCC employed primarily young men to work on environmental conservation projects. Workers in the program were paid $30 a month; tropically they sent $20 or $25 back home to their families. Work at the CCC camps was difficult, but it provided a means of living for men and their families. Workers were also provided with educational opportunities; it is estimated that 57,000 men learned how to read and write during their time in the program.
Roughly 4,546 acres were initially purchased for the construction of Watoga; in August of 1934 an additional 5,107 acres were added. CCC Camp 1525 was established and began working on Watoga that same year. Company 1525 constructed buildings; created multiple trails by clearing pathways and making sure they were accessible; built a swimming pool; and built a dam to form an 11-acre lake. By the time the camp in Watoga closed the CCC had successfully built twenty-two cabins, a stable, horse and hiking trails, fourteen miles of roads, and a swimming pool.
Watoga State Park was opened on July 1, 1937. In addition to camping, fishing, and hiking, Watoga is a place that is filled with historic artifacts that have a meaningful story behind them. Today some buildings made by the CCC remain standing and there is a museum full of artifacts and pictures associated with the history of the location.
“Company 1525, S-52 & SP-5.” Camp Watoga. n.d, Accessed October 9th 2019.
Editors, History.com. “Civilian Conservation Corps” HISTORY. A&E Television Networks, October 17, 2018. Accessed October 9th 2019.
Paige, John C..”Brief History of the CCC”. The Civilian Conservation Corps and The National Park Service, 1933-1943 An Administrative History. National Park Service Department of the Interior, 1985. Accessed October 9th 2019.
“Watoga State Park.” West Virginia State Parks, 2019, wvstateparks.com/
park/watogstate-park/. Accessed October 9th 2019.