The History of the CCC
ORIGINS OF MASSACHUSETTS STATE PARKS
The origins of the Commonwealth’s park system date to 1893 with the purchase of three public-funded properties in the metropolitan Boston area, and to 1898 when Mount Greylock became the state’s first wilderness park. As the forest and park system expanded, much of this land was undeveloped, inaccessible to a public interested in outdoor recreation. Until 1933, only a few state properties offered picnic areas or campgrounds. With the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) there would be coordinated development, through the National Park Service and US Forest Service, of a nationwide state parks program, setting standards for park development, planning and advancing forestry work for future generations.
THE CCC IN MASSACHUSETTS
The CCC program in Massachusetts had seven primary activities: camp construction, road building, silviculture, fire hazard reduction, pest control, wildlife management and recreational development. The program not only touched the lives of the enrollees, but also left a lasting legacy of forest improvements and recreational resources. More than 75 years later, many of the facilities built by the CCC throughout the state are still in use.
In its first year of operation, the focus of the CCC was on the establishment of camps. Because the program came into operation so quickly, enrollees literally carved their camps out of the wilderness, frequently working with primitive tools.
Providing access to remote forest sites was a priority. This tedious work involved improving existing roads, building new roads by clearing trees and ledge, preparing drainage culverts, setting stone base and a gravel surface. Often built to US Forest Service standards, it is a tribute to their quality construction that most are still in use today.
One primary purpose of the CCC was to improve the forest resources. Timber stand improvement work included thinning, release cutting, planting, forest type and soil inventories, and nursery maintenance. Still evident today, these now mature stands provide economic and resource value.
Fire Hazard Reduction
To protect the forest resources from serious fire threat this work involved cutting brush along roads and trails, thinning forests and burning slash, cutting 50 to 100 foot-wide fire break lines, building water holes, fire towers, improvement of communication lines and actual fire fighting. Following the 1938 hurricane this work was significant in clean-up of blown down timber.
Further forest resource protection involved intensive pest eradication programs, particularly targeting gypsy moth, white pine blister rust and white pine weevil.
To improve diversity and population and access for hunting and fishing, the CCC undertook the creation of distinct wildlife areas, surveys, breeding and propagation, fish stocking and habitat enhancements.
One of the most lasting contributions of the CCC was the construction of park recreational facilities. Built of rough-hewn, on-site materials, the lodges, cabins, shelters, picnic pavilions, bath houses and other structures were designed to reflect the color and texture of their surroundings. Many are noted for their quality of design and workmanship. In addition, the CCC made landscape improvements to enhance recreational use of the forests. In some areas, vistas and scenic overlooks were carved out at the roadside to reveal dramatic views. Hiking trails and stone steps in high-use areas as well as log guardrails and stone retaining walls along roads were artfully designed to further contribute to the park-like experience