Another Day, Another Dollar: The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Catskills Another Day, Another Dollar: The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Catskills
Another Day, Another Dollar: The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Catskills
Hensonville, NY: Black Dome Press, 2008. (224 pp.,100 illustrations)
In 1933, in the depths of the Great depression, President Franklin Roosevelt took office and began to fulfill his promise of a new deal for america. as part of his program, Congress soon approved the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC put young 145 unemployed men to work in the nation’s parks and forests, paying them thirty dollars a month. By the time the program ended in January 1942, with the outbreak of World War II, three and a half million men had served at 4,500 CCC camps in every state as well as in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and on several Indian nations. The CCC played an important role in providing jobs and (indirectly) relief to millions of family members during a period of hard times. The men received five dollars of their pay each month, with the remainder being sent home to their families. In addition to providing jobs, the CCC resulted in major improvements to the nation’s parks and forests.
The CCC in New York enrolled 210,000 men who lived at 161 camps scattered throughout the state, usually in remote areas. Run by the U.S. Army, the camps provided shelter, food, and basic services to upwards of 200 men each. The workers built public campgrounds; created hiking, skiing, and horseback riding trails; established game refuges; constructed dams to create swimming holes and waterfowl breeding sites; erected five Conservation Department Ranger
Headquarters; conducted stream restoration and erosion-control work; and helped farmers implement soil conservation measures. They planted over 221 million trees and protected the seedlings by eradicating insects and disease-hosting plants. The men built nineteen fire lookout towers, 392 miles of access roads, and 1,207 ponds for fighting forest fires. The program led to the reforestation of vast areas of upstate New York and provided infrastructure to protect the new forests from pests, disease, and fire, while simultaneously enabling the public to enjoy the great
outdoors through hiking, fishing, hunting, and other outdoor activities.
Diane Galusha, author of several books on New York history—including Liquid Assets: The Story of the New York City’s Water System (1999), Through A Woman’s Eye: Pioneering Photographers of Rural Upstate (1991), and As the River Runs: A History of Halcottsville, NY (1990)—is the founding president of the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown and a longtime resident of the Catskills. In Another Day, Another Dollar: The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Catskills, she provides an overview of the CCC in the 1930s that enables the reader to put the accounts of local CCC men in their proper context. The heart of the book is the seven chapters, each focusing on a particular CCC camp, which highlights the history of each camp through the eyes of fourteen camp veterans. Using oral history interviews and archival materials from regional libraries, historical societies, and special collections, the author provides a snapshot of what it was like in the camps, what the camps meant to the young men at the time, what work was accomplished, and how the camps contributed to the development of the region. The seven camps discussed are the Boiceville Camp (Ulster County), Davenport Camp (Delaware County), Tannersville Camp (Greene County), Deposit/McClure Camp (Broome County), Breakabeen Camp (Schoharie County), Margaretville Camp (Delaware County), and the Masonville Camp (Delaware County).The stars of the book aren’t the camps, but rather the fourteen CCC veterans. The author successfully presents their stories, capturing what these men lived through, how they felt, and what they got out of their experiences.One can’t help but want to meet these men and hear more.
The book provides a wealth of information and photographs on the CCC veterans, the seven camps and the contribution of the CCC to the development of the Catskill parks and forests. What the book is not is a comprehensive history of the CCC at the national or state level. It is a solid addition to the regional literature on the CCC and the history of the Catskills region. Considered a jobs program by many, others appreciated the long-term benefits of reforesting thousands of acres of upstate land abandoned by lumber companies that had clear cut the timber and stopped paying property taxes or farmers forced off the land by the collapse of agricultural markets during the Great Depression. From those millions of seedlings planted in the 1930s, the great forests of upstate New York were reborn. This book is a reminder of how different the Catskills might be had the young men of the CCC not been tasked with restoring the forests. This book will be of interest to historians looking for regional studies of CCC camps, those interested in the history of the state’s parks and forests, and most importantly, to those interested in the history of the Catskills/Hudson Valley region.
— Dr. Steve R. Waddell, United States Military Academy at West Point