A Lasting Legacy

The Civilian Conservation Corps 
and
South Carolina's State Parks

 

"The Civilian Conservation Corps left its monuments in the preservation and purification of the land, the water, the forests, and the young men of America."

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. 
The Coming of the New Deal

 

CCC enrollees at work at Cheraw State Park

 

On October 24, 1929 the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. South Carolina's economy was depressed even before the stock market crash, but things only got worse. Cotton prices dropped, banks failed, governments went bankrupt. In the early 1930s, at least 17 counties in South Carolina had an unemployment rate of over 30%.

New enrollees attending lecture on field activities.  
Table Rock State Park

Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal came to the state in March 1933. By the end of that summer, over 400,000 South Carolinians, 25% of the state's population, were on relief, managed by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. One of FDR's New Deal relief programs, Emergency Conservation Work, also known as the Civilian Conservation Corps, provided jobs to thousands of unemployed young men and World War I veterans. For their work, the men received housing, meals, and $30 a month. Of that, between $22 and $25 was sent home to their families.

Veterans

The Civilian Conservation Corps camps, run under the direction of the War Department, provided a structured atmosphere for many young men who had never had such structure. Educational classes at the elementary, high school, and college levels were provided, as well as vocational instruction in typewriting, agriculture, landscaping, mechanics, electricity, and forestry.
The Civilian Conservation Corps performed a variety of work throughout the state, including soil conservation, reforestation, fire prevention, and the development of recreational areas. The work of the CCC in South Carolina provided the genesis of South Carolina's state park system. South Carolina's first state park opened at Myrtle Beach in July 1936, and by 1938 fourteen state parks had opened and over 450,000 people had visited them.

Erosion Control
Chester State Park

 

Due to the advent of WWII and the decreasing need for employment opportunities, the CCC was officially disbanded on June 30, 1942. However, the end of the CCC did not mean the end of the state park system. On the contrary, the South Carolina state park service has continued to grow. In 1941, at the end of CCC construction, there were 16 state parks opened to the public, operated by the South Carolina Forestry Commission. Currently, there are 47 state parks located all over the state and operated under the authority of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
Both as a conservation program and as a relief program, the CCC has continually been judged a success. By June 1942, almost 50,000 men had worked in South Carolina's CCC camps, constructing almost 900 bridges, 129 lookout towers, and 16 state parks, and planting over fifty-six million trees in reforestation projects, not to mention the numerous other projects of road construction, soil conservation, laying of telephone lines, and wildlife conservation. The CCC buildings, roads, and landscapes in many of South Carolina's state parks stand as reminders of the lasting legacy provided by the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Kings Mountain State Park


To see more photos of the CCC in South Carolina, follow this link

Links to more CCC sites on the web

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