The CCC emboldened young men to pursue physical vigor and spiritual health as it reflected Roosevelt’s belief in the healing power of nature and the strength of individuals.

Instituted under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program in the March of 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) provided a work relief program for the increasing unemployed segment of the American populace.

“Besides depicting the company’s camp ad the attractive bridge, waterfall, and stairs, this illustration communicated the ’emergency’ nature of the work as the men hastened to roof the refectory while eagerAmericans rushed to take advantage of the new facilities. (TSLAC)” – Texas State Parks and the CCC, 14.

The program enticed young men between the ages of 18 to 25 with a promise of manual labor and $30 a month, $25 of which had to be sent home to their families. The minimum contract required six months of service and the man serve a total of four terms, or two years.

The LEM at the left of this photo is surpervising workers as they build the low-water crossing a tPalmetto State Park on April 9, 1935. (TPWD).

The Civilian Conservation Corps was tasked with conserving natural resources, cleaning National Forests and Parks, animal population control, and animal disease control. Their initial focus consisted of preventing erosion by using multi-tiered terraces and reforestation.

Enrollees at Tyler State Park receive instructions from a LEM, ca. 1938. (NARA, College Park, Maryland)

To better manage their work the Corps task groups created camps throughout the nation and built what we know as the National Parks architecture. In Texas, the Corps often replicated traditional Texan stonework architecture and experimented with the Arts and Crafts style. By using resources found throughout the park, or parks nearby, the structures built were reflective of their natural environment.

The picnic table at Blanco State Park stretches some seventy feet in length. Its concrete top rests on waist-high masonry pedastals. The bench seats that completely surround the table are constructed of stone, as is the nearby fireplace. (TPWD)

A task group would have been responsible for building a variety of buildings including a medical facility, barracks per 50 men, recreational facilities, bathroom facilities, educational halls, mess hall, a tool room, blacksmith shop, and even garages. These buildings have since been adapted to modern needs.

Believed to be design staff with the State Parks Board, two men pose on a pine footbridge in Bastrop State Park. LAced throughout the park are stone-lined culverts designed to channel flowing creeks (TPWD)

The CCC also built other small infrastructure within the parks including fire lookout towers, roads, airport landings, terraces, dams, and campgrounds. Overall the Corps restructured 800 parks, planted 3 billion trees, employed 2.5 million men, and completed 9,700 miles of road. Today, these facilities are still in use and kept up to date by a select task force.

An unidentified enrollee applies last-minute finishes to an iron chandelier. Most CCC camps needed a blacksmith shop to fashion hardware and lighting fixtures, as well as repair tools and equipment. (NARA, College Park, Maryland)

In 1937, CCC enrollee James Taylor created a bust modeled in clay that would later be carved in walnut and used as a decorative fireplace mantel bracket in the refectory of Bastrop State Park. (TPWD)

Enrollees who learned, through the educational opportunities of the CCC, or could demonstrate their talents in a building trade prior to enlistment were given special tasks. Some campsites became well-known specialty shops such as; the blacksmith at Garner camp, timber mills at Bastrop, and furniture shops at Lake Brownwood, Palo Duro Canyon, and Longhorn Cavern, respectively.

Force Account team members replace sections of the water tower roof at Palmetto State Park in July 1991. (TWPD)

Force Account team members conduct masonry repairs on a Buescher State Park bridge in 1989. (TWPD)

To maintain the architectural feats throughout the parks small groups of expert craftsmen known as the Force Accounts, under the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), travel throughout the states to maintain and repair CCC park structures.

the bathhouse at Tyler State Park was designed in the Prairie style popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright. (Photo by John B. Chandler, 2008, TPWD)

A panoramic photograph of construction at Lake Corpus Christi State Park illustrates the coordination required for large-scale masonry projects. (TPWD)

*All images and captions are from the book Texas State Parks and the CCC by Cynthia Brandimarte with Angela Reed