CCC Camps: Civilian Conservation Corps

Conservation Corps

In 1933 President Roosevelt started the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, to try and solve two problems: reforestation of the nation’s timber resources, and unemployment during the great depression. The CCC, consisting mostly of men 18–20 years old, set up camps in each state to house the men during their time of employment. There were roughly 22 CCC camps in the Great Smoky Mountains from 1933–1942, and as many as 4,000 men worked in these camps, reforesting the area and building fire towers and fire roads.

The Department of Interior takes a look at its effort in the Great Smoky Mountains in this vintage film. Submitted by Dept. of Interior - Knox News Sentinel

The End Of CCC

At the start of World War II, most CCC camps were closed down and abandoned. The nation’s money was now being used to fund their fight in WWII, and most of the men were needed to fight in the military, so the CCC camps turned to ghost towns. There are still some remains from the camps in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park today. A chimney, a drinking fountain, a fire hydrant, a sign board and many other artifacts are visible in the ever thickening forest that would not be here if not for the CCC camps themselves.

The CCC camp NP-5 was located in the area now occupying Kephart Prong Trail, a little over 7 miles north of Oconaluftee Visitor Center along Newfound Gap Road. During the camp's peak from 1933 to 1942 there were several structures here housing over 200 members of Company 411 of the Civilian Conservation Corps. These men played an important part in constructing Newfound Gap Road and many of the footbridges along the tral. They even built the water system that still serves the Newfound Gap area today. At the start of World War II this camp was closed down and abandoned, but some remnants still stand to this day.

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