In 1933 when President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps it was intended to help bring the country out of its greatest depression. The program put young men between the ages of 18 to 25 to work to restore our landscape and create parks for the common person to enjoy. Along with the labor of thousands of young men, this created work for professionally trained landscape architects and architects to design the buildings and other infrastructure that we enjoy today.
The Rustic style of architecture was used, primarily because it reflected the character of our forests and other landscapes and used local, natural building materials so that the structures blended into the surrounding terrain. The designs recognized the scale of the parks they were located in by building in proportion to the landscape. The Arts and Crafts Movement contributed to the designs with a focus on primitive skills and techniques. Local cultural elements and a combination of textures, colors and other design elements brought harmony between the surrounding landscape and the structures. All of this contributed to the aesthetic experience of people visiting the parks. Visitors could enjoy the comfort and convenience of lodges, picnic areas, swimming areas and lookouts that were not in conflict with their surroundings.
In Massachusetts, the legacy of the CCC is preserved through records stored at the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) CCC Archives at Mt. Greylock State Reservation. Records are also preserved at the DCR Archives at Danvers and there are other records kept in offices throughout the park system. DCR Archivist, Sean Fisher, recently located hundreds of CCC records in a DCR garage attic stored in conditions not meant for long-term storage. With this discovery comes the challenge of cataloguing, organizing, stabilizing and conserving a large amount of historically important material. Many of the records are fragile and have condition issues that do not allow handling or using them. Some have been rolled and some are brittle or torn and have been mended with tape.
The records that were located include thirty-seven blueprints, planning documents, maps and other material for Upton State Forest. All of the material is important for historic research and a great deal of the material has a practical application because it could be studied and used by our staff to help maintain our facilities including trails, culverts, water holes and Dean Pond.
Other material has helped identify locations of important historic resources that should be preserved. One or two of the documents turned out to be a surprise to us. Upton State Forest was supposed to have additional recreational facilities built, including a shelter at Dean Pond and a water system that would have supplied water to the CCC picnic areas. Since the camp closed in 1938 when Company 2105 moved to Salisbury Beach some of their work was not completed.
Recognizing the importance of this material the FUSF Historical Resource Committee voted to fundraise with the goal of conserving the Upton documents. The fundraising goal of half the $8990.00 needed to preserve the records has been met. Thank you to all who contributed!
A Sample of the CCC Records in Desperate
Need of Preservation:
Plan: Shary Berg and DCR Archives
Photograph: National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution