Colonel William Hubert Crawford

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Civilian Conservation Corp "CCC"

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

On March 31, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation to create the Civilian Conservation Corps, the first of the New Deal agencies. The CCC employed young men and gave them an opportunity to develop new skills and prepare them for future employment as the nation recovered from the Great Depression.

Originally established as the "Emergency Conservation Work Program," the CCC was renamed in 1937. Although there are no official records, estimates of the number of young men who participated in the nine-year program reach approximately three million. Congress extended the program to include African Americans, Native Americans, and World War I veterans. Enrollees performed a variety of conservation activities including reforestation, soil conservation, road construction, flood and fire control, and agricultural management. The CCC also completed a number of tasks associated with the development and construction of state and national parks. The CCC provided food, clothing, and shelter, as well as education, vocational training, and health care. The Department of Labor, the War Department, and the Department of Interior administered the CCC; state and local labor offices assisted with selection and enrollment procedures.

The CCC's Fourth Corps area, District C, included Tennessee plus western North Carolina, northern Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Organized on April 25, 1933, District C fielded forty companies, including three "Veteran White," one "Veteran Colored," two "Junior Colored," and thirty-four "Junior White" camps. Tennessee supported eleven district headquarters located in Memphis, Union City, Jackson, Paris, Columbia, Nashville, Tullahoma, Cookeville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Johnson City and fifteen branch offices located in Dyersburg, Murfreesboro, McMinnville, Shelbyville, Clarksville, Springfield, Cleveland, LaFollette, Maryville, Loudon, Rockwood, Morristown, Elizabethton, Kingsport, and Bristol. The state's first CCC company set up headquarters at Camp Cordell Hull near Limestone Cave in Unicoi County in 1933. By the following year, Tennessee sponsored thirty companies.

Enrollment was offered to single men between the ages of seventeen and twenty-eight; however, the reinstituted CCC of 1937 made enrollment available to men between the ages of seventeen and twenty-three. Applicants had to prove their marital status, provide evidence they had been unable to find employment for at least two months, and demonstrate that their families could not provide education or training comparable to that made available to members of the corps. Enrollees signed up for a minimum of six months, and few members participated for more than one or two years. The state's motto, "Select, rather than collect," reflected the high honor associated with participation in the CCC. Tennessee's CCC boys earned thirty dollars per month, twenty-five dollars of which went to families or was deposited with the War Department until the corps member received his "honorable discharge."

Tennessee's total number of CCC companies reached its peak in July 1937, when the state supported forty-six camps. By the time the CCC disbanded, more than seventy thousand Tennesseans had served. In 1942 changing American ideas about the CCC and congressional pressure to end the program resulted in the agency's dissolution, but in Tennessee, the CCC had completed work in seventeen state parks as well as in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The national success of the CCC is directly attributed to Roosevelt, who seldom compromised his values concerning the need for the agency and a national conservation movement.

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The two CCC Camp rings below belonged to Hubert Crawford.

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CCC Camp ring

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Side view of ring at right

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CCC Camp ring

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Herald Citizen Newspaper (June 8, 1933)
 
Hubert Crawford’s farm two miles east of town is already home to a cavalry unit for the National Guard.  Now it’s about to become home to a Civilian Conservation Corp unit as well. 
 
It’s part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s plan to revive the South’s faltering timber industry.  A group of men will arrive soon to begin building Camp Cordell Hull on the Crawford farm.
 
The camp will be headquarters to a group of CCC “enlistees” who will plant trees and conduct re-forestation projects in Putnam and several surrounding counties.

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Picket Tennesse State Rustic Park

The Michigan-based Stearnes Coal and Lumber Company acquired forested land in Pickett and Fentress Counties in 1910 and used the land until 1933, when the company deeded the property to the State of Tennessee. On December 13, 1933, Tennessee Governor Hill McAllister declared the land a state forest. The Tennessee state forester in the Department of Agriculture administered the land until 1937, when it was transferred to the Division of Forestry in the Department of Conservation. The land eventually became Pickett State Rustic Park, administered by the Division of State Parks.

In 1921 a national conference for the establishment of state parks identified Tennessee as one of twenty-eight states with no state parks. Tennessee established a State Park and Forestry Commission in 1925, but it was not until the federal government began promoting land use planning during the depression that the movement to acquire land and construct state parks gained substantial support in Tennessee. Federal funding and New Deal work programs provided the means to complete the projects.

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Company 1471 organized at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, in 1933, before moving first to Putnam County and then settling in Pickett County in 1934. There, they constructed a dam and a twelve-acre lake, twenty-two miles of roads, telephone lines, trails, a lodge, picnic areas, cabins, and other facilities for the new Pickett Forest State Park (the area was also known as Pickett Forest Recreation Area). The CCC also built fire towers and ranger stations in the forested areas of Pickett. The National Park Service designed park buildings and structures to utilize native materials and fit in with the local landscape, providing for functionally and aesthetically related components that have remained easily accessible to park visitors.

A 1937 U.S. Department of Interior master plan for Pickett Forest State Park shows picnic areas, auto and trailer camps, groups of cabins, trails, comfort stations, and shelters, many of which still exist. Historic resources (ca. 1934-42) are constructed of rock faced coursed stone with wood trim. They are gable-roofed and one story in height. Many buildings have large, impressive stone fireplaces.

Situated near the Tennessee-Kentucky state border, the park and forest contain close to twelve thousand acres of reforested land. Pine growth occurs on the plateau, and hemlock and birches predominate in the ravines of the park. Rock formations, natural bridges, and caves can be found throughout the area.

Development of the park facilities continued into the late 1930s, then ceased until the 1950s, when additional cabins and the superintendent's residence were erected. In 1949 approximately one thousand acres of the land were transferred to the Division of the State Parks in the Department of Conservation. Today, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation administers Pickett State Rustic Park.

Published December 25, 2009 | Last Updated February 23, 2011

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The water tower in the picture below was built by Hubert's CCC unit at Picket State Forest.

The bridge across Rock Creek in the picture below was built by Hubert's CCC unit at Picket State Forest.

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JAMESTOWN TN 4 September 2010 - When the Civilian Conservation Corps built something, it was made to last.

At Pickett State Park, 12 miles northeast of Jamestown, some of the chestnut benches built by the CCC remain intact after 75 years.

Stone masonry was perhaps their most recognizable calling card. At the entrance to Pickett is a sandstone building next to the visitor center that served as the park's first contact station and ranger's residence.

Like other stone structures built by the CCC in the 1930s, the sturdy little cabin blends into the natural landscape like one of the rock formations for which Pickett is famous.

A year ago Tennessee State Parks began turning the building into a museum honoring the CCC. The drop ceiling was removed, the wood repainted and the electrical wiring was restored to vintage specifications.

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On Monday - Labor Day - the museum will officially open to the public. One of the guests of honor will be 92-year-old Oscar Odum of Jamestown, who was a member of CCC Camp 1471 at Pickett from 1935-39.

Odum donated several of his personal belongings to the new museum, one of them being a Christmas menu from 1937 that lists tomato juice cocktail, celery hearts, roast turkey and oyster dressing as the holiday meal.

"They fed us well and kept us busy," said Odum. "Pickett is where I learned my trade."

The young men who joined the CCC were paid $35 a month, $25 of which was sent home to their families. The program, part of President Roosevelt's New Deal, began in 1933 and ended abruptly in 1942 after the start of World War II.

Odum's story epitomizes what the CCC was all about. His home was in Jackson County, and his family owned no car, not even a mule. The morning Odum left to join the CCC, he walked 12 miles to Gainesboro, where the CCC picked up enlistees from the area. Odum's family didn't own a clock, and because he was afraid of being late, he left the house early, arriving in Gainesboro well before sunrise to catch his ride at 6:30 a.m.

He was 18 years old.

Odum went directly to Pickett to join Camp 1471, one of two CCC camps stationed at the park. The Stearns Coal and Lumber Company recently had donated 12,000 acres to the Tennessee Forestry Division to be developed as a recreation area. There were roads and dams to build, miles of phone and electric lines to install, and the occasional wildfire to fight.

It didn't take Odum long to realize he had a knack for stone masonry.

"In the beginning, they gave me a trowel and hammer and told me to fix the fireplace in the recreation lodge," he said. "They allowed for trial and error. If it didn't look right, we'd tear it down and try again."

Many of the original buildings at Pickett were constructed of native sandstone - some of it quarried and some of it picked up off the ground. Odum remembers beating limestone with a sledgehammer until the chunks were small enough to run through a crusher.

And though he's not absolutely certain, he believes he helped lay the rock for what has become the new CCC museum.

After the CCC program ended, Odum, like 85 percent of the CCC, served in World War II.

"The CCC made it easy on me," he said. "When I got to the Army, I knew what to expect."

After the war, Odum began a lifelong career as a brick and stone mason.

"The CCC gave us direction and common sense," he said. "There was hard work and discipline, but I was young, and I always felt like I was getting a good deal."

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November 4th 2010 Ceremony Commemorated the CCC’s Contributions to Tennessee; Memorial Statue Announced
 
Jamestown, TN – Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke was joined by Tennessee State Parks, elected officials and members of the community on Thursday, November 4th, at Pickett State Park for the official dedication of the park’s new Civilian Conservation Corps Museum.

The museum features interpretative exhibits and artifacts, depicting the Civilian Conservation Corps’ contributions to Tennessee’s parks and natural areas, while recognizing the CCC’s extensive efforts across the country. An interactive touch-screen exhibit gives visitors an opportunity to hear directly from former CCC workers, sharing their stories about their time working to construct Pickett State Park. Developed by Tennessee State Parks, the museum is in the same location of the former park office, constructed by the CCC in the 1930s.

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Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke (center) joined former CCC workers from across the state, along with Tennessee State Parks officials, at Pickett State Park’s dedication of the new Civilian Conservation Corps Museum. (Photo by Terry Bonham)

Yesterday’s dedication program featured park interpreters, historians and period music. Thirteen former CCC workers from across the state were in attendance as special guests. Descendants of CCC workers came from as far away as Jackson, Tennessee, to honor their fathers and to take part in this unique recognition. Former CCC worker Ben Hutcherson of Nashville brought his homemade banjo and entertained the crowd with songs he remembered from his experience in CCC Company # 1454.

“The new museum will recognize those young men of the CCC who left their mark on our public lands,” said Commissioner Fyke. “Few men have the satisfaction of knowing they made such a significant contribution in their lifetime – namely, one that will last through the ages and touch the lives of so many.”

Fyke also announced that Tennessee will soon have its first CCC worker statue, which has been commissioned by Tennessee State Parks and will be placed at the museum’s courtyard. The six-foot, 400-pound bronze statue will be the 55th statue installed in the United States to honor the CCC’s legacy.

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Thirteen former CCC workers from across the state were in attendance as special guests at Pickett State Park’s new Civilian Conservation Corps Museum dedication. (Photo by Terry Bonham)

Established in 1933 by the U.S. Congress as a measure of the New Deal program, the Civilian Conservation Corps provided work and vocational training for unemployed young men through conserving and developing the country’s natural resources. From 1933 to 1942, enrollees performed a variety of conservation activities, including reforestation, soil conservation, road construction, flood and fire control, and agricultural management. The CCC was instrumental in the development of a number of Tennessee State Parks, and the results of CCC members’ efforts can still be enjoyed today.

The CCC built the first state parks in Tennessee, including Pickett, Reelfoot, Montgomery Bell, Norris Dam, South Cumberland, Big Ridge, T.O. Fuller, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Booker T. Washington, Harrison Bay, Cove Lake, Pickwick Landing and Cumberland Mountain State Parks. They completed work in 17 different Tennessee State Parks. Many of their park structures are still in use today.

Approximately 70,000 Tennesseans served in the CCC in various locations around the country. There were 77 CCC camps located throughout Tennessee. Completed CCC work included dams, bridges, roads, buildings, parks and numerous restoration and conservation sites across the state.

Situated in a remote section of the Upper Cumberland Plateau, Pickett State Park is known for its geological, botanical and scenic wonders. The park lies within the 19,200-acre Pickett State Forest and adjacent to the massive 120,000-acre Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, both areas containing prime wilderness country. Visitors to the park can explore large rock houses, natural sandstone bridges, scenic bluffs and wild mountain streams. The park memorializes and preserves the unique work of the Civilian Conservation Corps, who first developed the park.

Pickett State Park’s Civilian Conservation Corps Museum is open from 8:00am to 4:30pm daily.

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