Civilian Conservation Corps

As part of President Roosevelt's New Deal to provide relief from the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was formed.


The Civilian Conservation Corps was one of the New Deal programs that put thousands of young men to work. CCC workers lived in tents and wore uniforms. It was a lot like being in the Army. They built dams, beautified state parks, cleared roadsides. And where the plains had been eroded away, the CCC planted trees as shelter breaks.

Southwest of Sidney—at Waubonsie State Park—is still there today, a lot of the work we did in the CCC camp can still be seen. As I’ve traveled through other parts of the state, visiting parks at Pine Lake, Effigy Mounds—most of the trails that you walk on, most of the paths that you follow through here were created by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The average paycheck was only about $6 a week and most of that had to be sent to families at home. As small as those checks were, they saved thousands of families from the relief roles.

I remember my mother writing me and I remember my mother telling me several times that that $5 check was probably one of the biggest checks she’d ever receive in her life. This was back in the days, when you stop to think, that the minimum light bill was $1. And by being careful you could get by on the minimum. I have hunches I might have paid for the light bill, maybe some groceries, maybe even for some clothes—I don’t know.

The Iowa Heritage Hard Times

Iowa PBS