Did you know we had barracks full of young men in Oregon way before World War II? I was surprised to learn just how many young men came to Oregon as part of the Depression-era work program known as the Civilian Conservation Corps--or CCC. Alan Maul, the coordinator of the Oregon HIstory Forest Center, shared this information, and more, when he talked with us today. He shared that the CCC was the younger-sister program to the more well-known Works Progress Administration (WPA) that provided work for experienced tradesmen who worked on the construction of many public structures: Crater Lake Lodge, Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood, the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway and its Crown Point information center, as well as local buildings such as the West Salem City Hall.
CCC camps were located throughout Oregon, with each camp housing 100-200 young men. During the nine years of the program's operation, 70-80,000 young men came to work in Oregon. in eastern Oregon, the young men worked mostly on water and soil conservation projects. In western Oregon, the camps focused on firefighting, trail construction, and grounds work for the larger WPA projects like Timberline Lodge, Crater Lake Lodge and the Oregon Caves National Monument. Closer to Salem, two camps were located in the Silver Creek Falls area where they undertook construction of the lodge at Silver Creek Falls State Park, along with the bridges and trails weaving through the waterfalls on which thousands of us have hiked in the ensuing years.