Archive for ‘CCC’

January 24, 2014

A Visit To Lake Murray Nature Center

Lake Murray Nature Center

Earlier this month, I attended a meeting at Lake Murray State Park in south central Oklahoma.  The primary reason we visited this location was to admire the new Lake Murray Nature Center below the park’s iconic Tucker Tower.  The purpose-built structure is fantastic, and all the exhibits are modern and relate to the park or the immediate area.

I also enjoyed an overnight stay at the Lake Murray Lodge.  If you haven’t been there in a while – no worries, it looks exactly the same as it has for decades! …But that is all about to change!  The park is scheduled for a major overhaul that includes a new lodge and many other exciting updates.

Of course, there’s no need to wait for the new lodge before you plan your next visit to Lake Murray!  Even in January there are a variety of things to see and do.  Check out the new nature center, the recently renovated Tucker Tower, and the parks’ rich WPA/CCC history.  On any hike or drive around the lake you are sure to see bald eagles and whole flotillas of waterfowl.  (A Lake Murray employee even reported seeing swans during my visit.)  Then there’s the best part: A visit during the off-season almost makes it feel like you have the place to yourself.

Check out their website!

January 5, 2014

More Snow And Cold Weather For Osage Hills State Park

CCC-built Pump House

Snow fell again in the Osage Hills. The flurries started Saturday night and continued through the morning with temperatures stalling at 15°F. The dry snow never seemed to stay put – the wind busily rearranged it all day – which made taking measurements a challenge. I found it from 3.25 inches deep near Group Camp to 6.5 inches deep on rocks in a ravine. Officially, the National Weather Service reported 4.7 inches.

Low temperatures for Monday will range from 5 to 10 degrees above zero, with highs in the lower twenties. Wind chill values from -5 to -26 degrees are expected.

Tractor Clearing Snow From Roadway Over CCC Culvert

Tractor Clearing Snow From Roadway Over CCC-built Culvert

December 29, 2013

Day Two: Petit Jean State Park (Arkansas)

Pictograph Cave 01

Petit Jean State Park, outside Morrilton, was Arkansas’s first State Park.  Construction by the Civilian Conservation Corps was started in 1933, and we hoped to take a look at some of their handiwork still visible in the park.

We had pitched our tent in the dark in an empty campground and prepared for bed. The next morning we discovered that, among all the sites available to us, I had chosen the most expensive of all: a $30 full service (electric, water, and sewer) RV site.  Whoops!  We had camped at the Ritz and hadn’t even noticed!

We first visited the CCC-built Visitor’s Center, which has a room of interpretive exhibits about the park’s natural history and physical geology, as well as the CCC and early park advocates.  We then visited other CCC sites, such as Davies Bridge, the Boathouse, the CCC overlook, the CCC camp, and the CCC water tower.

We took a hike past the curiously shaped “turtle rocks” on our way to Rock House Cave, an overhanging shelter that has faint paleo-Indian pictographs scrawled on the wall in red and black pigments.

Then, we hiked to Bear Cave – so named because a bear was known to hibernate in it at one time.  It was so small in comparison to Rock House Cave that we continued hiking up the trail beyond it wondering if we had in fact found the correct thing.  (Apparently we had!)  On the way back, we had a great time exploring the weathered fissures in the rock.  We discovered handholds and footholds carved into the sandstone, so we used them to scramble to the top of the outcrop.

Finally, we stopped for a late lunch at the restaurant in the park’s Mather Lodge, a portion of which was built by the CCC.  Mather Lodge is the only CCC-built lodge in the Arkansas State Park system.  Most of the original structure is now used only as a waiting / sitting room.  We worked on a jigsaw puzzle-in-progress in this area while waiting for a table to become available in the restaurant.   A well-appreciated fire was burning in the fireplace, which was a nice touch on a cold day!

After lunch, there was only time for a quick walk to the Cedar Falls overlook before hitting the road for home.

Persuaded by billboards, we made one more stop in Muskogee, Oklahoma for “Christmas At The Castle.”  We hadn’t been there before…  And now that I have, I am not sure whether to be impressed by the sheer volume of illuminated inflatable yard ornaments, or disappointed in the mile-long repeated displays of blow-up Santas on motorcycles and Frosty snowmen on airplanes. [There’s my love-hate with tacky tourism, again!] I bought an “animatronic” singing Teddy Roosevelt caricature (a la Billy Bass) for $5 at the Christmas store in The Castle, which Isabel and I definitely think was a good score!

By the time we reached Tulsa, the ice-laden trees and bushes — beautifully enhanced by dazzling white light from the street lights — were a sublime reminder that we were lucky to have missed it all.

November 25, 2011

Company 895 Gives Thanks

This graphic appeared on the cover of 1938's Thanksgiving "Menu and Roster."

The graphic above appeared on the cover of CCC Company 895’s
Thanksgiving “Menu and Roster” in 1938

On the menu:  California Hors D’oeuvres, Maraschino Cocktail, Mushroom Consumme, Saltines, Roast Young Turkey, Giblet Gravy, Oyster Dressing, Cranberry Sauce, Buttered Parsnips, Parisienne Potatoes, Poinsettia Salad, Hot Rolls, Butter, Mince Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Mixed Nuts, Assorted Fruits, Coffee, Cigarettes, and Cigars.

Civilian Conservation Corps Company 895
lived in and built Osage Hills State Park from 1935-1941.

November 12, 2011

Enterprise War Correspondent Visits Osage Hills CCC Camp

Aerial view of CCC Camp no 895 at Osage Hills State Park

Bartlesville Daily Enterprise
November 9, 1935

Finds Camp in an Ideal Location Occupied by Approximately 200 Youths Anxious to Work as Well as Play. Housed in Well Equipped Barracks in Home-Like Fashion Equipped With the Usual Home-Like Comforts

By Staff War Correspondent

On The Osage Front

Yesterday afternoon at the stroke of 3:30 o’clock, your correspondent, togged out in olive drab and a $2.98 fedora, boarded the private sedan of Ed Roche and started westward to pick up Mister Herbert Gibbs, lubrication salesman. The goal of our research expedition was the CCC camp, located 12 miles west of Bartlesville and 1½ miles south. Objective: to write a feature story and to sell tires and oil.

On the gravel road to Pawhuska we came to a large sign on the left side of the highway: “CCC Camp – please close gate.” Your correspondent, being on the leeside of a 2-door sedan, was declared the official “gate opener and closer.”

We were soon bumping down a rough-and-ready road toward the camp. Now and then a large army lorry halted our progress as we swept aside in favor of the huge and formidable-looking vehicle. Soon the underbrush became thick and dense. Then we entered a clearing and beheld the camp.

First View of Camp

Our first impression of United States Army camp No. 895, of CCC No. SP-24-0, was a profusion of sea-green barracks buildings, built helter-skelter over the rough-hewn district. We parked our deep-breathing vehicle and dismounted. A better constructed building stood in the offing marked C O H Q, which we surmised to be the office of the general staff.

All around the various buildings we saw men at work – some working – many lazily shoveling a few square inches of dirt in the manner of fugitives from a chain gang. They had the appearance of gentlemen farmers plowing-under crops.

Meets Commanding Officer

At general headquarters we met an affable gentleman whose official title was bellicosely inscribed on the wall at his right: Lieut. J. K. Swigart – commanding officer.” After due formalities Lieut Swigart began to answer our rapid-fire questions with equilibrium and unction.

It seems, according to the c.o. that the average age of CCC workers is 19 years. These men are recruited from the ranks of college graduates and high school boys the lieutenant assured us. He turned to one side and introduced another smart appearing army officer – Lieut. E.D. McKay, formerly of Bartlesville – son of E. F. McKay with the gas division of the Empire companies in 1918 and 1919. Lieut. McKay is a graduate of Oklahoma university medical school and knows a lot of people in Bartlesville.

Nine Camp Buildings

The new CCC camp comprises nine buildings – low, squat barracks – including a headquarters building, a hospital, supply station, mess hall, officer’s mess hall and sleeping quarters for the “boys.”

The general purpose of the camp is to complete a program for a state park. Landscapers, engineers, embryo engineers, army officers and raw rookies are included in the personnel of 210 men that will remain there for 2 years to complete the task. Surveys, counter-surveys, and plain surveys will be made. Then will follow a campaign of spending a specified allotment to improve the jack-oak country and create a lovely forest where “Maw, Paw, and the kiddies” may take the family provisions for an all day outing without fear of snakes, scorpions or tarantulas.

Want to Make “Whoopie”

The CCC boys are “blue”, in fact very “blue” over the prospect of remaining in the wild Osage county two years. They want to make “Whoopee” as do all red-blooded American citizens between the ages of 19 and 21. However, their day is cut out for them between 8 a. m. and 4 p. m., and they must work hard.

The commanding officer, a regular army man from Fort Sill, declared he wasn’t accustomed to the informality of the camp. No salutes. No “yes-sirs”. No firm discipline prevailed. Yet, in the event a “rookie” commits the heinous crime of insubordination a second time he will be dishonorably discharged from the camp.

“That holds the boys,” Lieut. Swigart declared. “For no member of this camp wants to be put out while he is earning $30 a month.”

Each of the embryo “tree-cutters” gets $30 monthly – $25 of which is sent to his parents or family, and $5 of which he may spend on himself for tobacco, cigarettes, or other amusement. Clerical men receive $45 monthly and leaders (equivalent to corporals in the army) receive $36 monthly.

Camp Brilliantly Illuminated

The camp is brilliantly illuminated with a huge Delco plant which furnished direct current to all barracks and buildings. This current, however, plays havoc with radio receivers which the boys brought to camp because most of them operate on alternating current.

“How often do these men go to town,” we asked of the commanding officer.

“Well,” he replied, “the less frequent, the better. We try to have them go through army red tape. I should say, off-hand, they go to town three or four times a week.”

When the “boys” work, they wear blue denim overalls – or jumpers. Regularly in camp their attire consists of the regulation olive-drab and when on leave of absence they may wear O. D. Or “civvies” or all olive-drab – as they choose.

Ration allowance for each of the “soldiers” is 55 cents per diem, which is 44 cents more than the allowance in welfare groups, Lieut. Swigart pointed out to us knowingly. The camp has all sorts of recreational facilities including pool tables, ping-pong tables, a canteen, athletic equipment galore and what have you.

Camp Chiefs Well Informed

Outside general headquarters we met a couple interesting gentlemen – “Tex” Hulett, mechanical foreman of the camp, who can’t be fooled on lubricants, ring-gears, or transmission oil – and John Best, camp superintendent, who knows the price of a sack of cement as far as he can see it. “Tex”, by the way, chose Bartlesville as his home, and Mrs. Hulett resides in this community.

John Best knows all the answers of smart salesmen and declares he’s coming to Bartlesville and let the writer of this yarn pilot him about the city. He wishes to meet the chief of police, the sheriff and the county commissioners. Also the business men whose generous donations made the camp possible. He asks that the chamber of commerce and retail merchants make it a point to visit camp no. 895 and see for themselves just what progress is being made.