As we often do on the weekends, my wife and I were browsing a local antique store. This weekend we were at Memory Lane Antiques in Ava, MO when we noticed this picture of a CCC Camp at Palace, MO.
I walked away that day, not buying this picture, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how neat it was. I loved the look of the barracks with the white posts spaced neatly in front and around the driveways. I love the old water tower and the water tank with wheels that look like they came off an old cannon. I also noticed that there is no one shown in camp. Just one car. I am guessing that this was taken while the men were out working on some project in the National Forest.
A perusal of the internet didn’t turn up much on this particular camp at Palace, MO. Apparently, Palace is now part of The Mark Twain National Forest near Fort Leonard Wood. I don’t know if remnants of the camp are still there and the only mention of the Palace CCC Camp was in a Crocker, MO history. It states: “The Great Depression hit hard in Crocker just as through out the rest of the United States. In addition to the hard economic times caused by the Depression, they were increased in this area due to grass hoppers and drought. Many Crocker residents went to the CCC Camp at Palace (located in the area now comprising Fort Leonard Wood). The WPA also provided some relief as well.”
As always, these little bits of history drew me in further. Caused me to learn a little more. Made me realize that this is a bit of Missouri’s history that is just starting to be rediscovered. Started me to think a little more about the Civilian Conservation Corps and what they contributed to our state.
I learned that on March 31, 1933 the CCC had its first enrollee and by 1935 there were 505,782 enrollees in 2,650 camps across America. During this period, Missouri had 4,000 men assigned to work projects in 40,000 acres of Missouri park lands. Many of the park projects are still with us today. Most of the buildings at Roaring River State Park are CCC made and the shelter, bridge and dining hall at Bennett Springs State Park are all CCC projects that still stand today.
These were Depression Years and these young men would earn $30 dollars a month. Five dollars of this was theirs to keep and the other $25 was sent to their families back home. The economic impact was not only felt by the small towns around these camps, but was felt by the towns were these young men’s families lived. Although, probably most noticeable at the time, the impact of the CCC was not just economic. Many were taught trade skills as well as basic education. Teachers were set up in these camps and many illiterate men were taught to read and write in their off time.
Even though the CCC lasted only about 10 years, it’s achievements during that time are staggering. There were 3,470 fire towers built, 4, 235,000 man days devoted to fighting forest fires, 97,000 miles of fire roads built and over 3,000,000,000 (that’s billion) trees planted. Wow!
As you have probably guessed by now, I returned Memory Lane Antiques the next week and bought this picture. Another piece of Missouri history that I just couldn’t live without.
If you have more history on the CCC Camp at Palace, MO or know of someone that worked there, drop me a line or post in the forum. I would love to hear from you.
~ This blog reprinted from my original site. Copyright Ozark History Buff 2017 ~