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Guardians of the Yosemite (1961) by John W. Bingaman


Chapter XIV

CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CAMPS

President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps, in 1933, as an emergency program. The CCC greatly benefited the National Parks for their work of maintenance, new projects and conservation work as well as assisting in forest fire protection.

By June 6, 1933 five Civilian Conservation Camps were established in Yosemite. These Camps were set up at Empire Meadow, Crane Flat, Tamarack Flat, and Wawona, and one outside of the Park, on the middle fork of the Tuolumne River.

During that summer the rangers worked with the training of the CCC Crews in forest fire control and techniques. Every boy was given instruction and they assisted materially in fire control work.

One of the year round Civilian Conservation Camps was established at Wawona, with about two hundred young men. While the men were in camp they were under the supervision of an Army Officer. Their work day was six hours, thirty hours per week, under supervision of a camp superintendent and crew foreman.

The Camp at Wawona functioned exceedingly well. There was excellent cooperation between the Park Chiefs, Army Officers, and the civilian personnel. Captain Wm. S. Rockwell, left an outstanding record in the history of his camp and he was well liked by every one in the area.

Captain Rockwell arrived in Wawona with Co. 487, CCC, on September 15, 1937, and departed November 15, 1940. Later he served in the Hawaiian Department, Schofield Barracks T.H. 1941-1945 and was with Gen. Mac Arthur’s occupation forces in Japan 1948-1952. In 1953 he was in Europe located in Vienna Austria. He was promoted to Colonel as Post Quartermaster of the Vienna Command. He retired and is now living in Savannah, Georgia, with his wife and son.

The CCC Boys were a Godsend when it came to fighting forest fires. We were fortunate in having qualified foremen to lead the CCC crews. Bob Russell and Les Phillips were experienced fire fighters and two of our veteran camp superintendents were Bill Mayhall, an old logger in his heyday, and Roy Seavey who was superintendent of the Wawona, Camp for a number of years.

The Civilian Conservation Corps was discontinued in July 1942 and left a fine record with the National Parks and conservation agencies.


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Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management

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