The Civilian Conservation Corps and the local treasures left for us to enjoy
We are very fortunate in Wisconsin to have an abundance of public lands to explore. With fall colors and cooler temps upon us, what better time to explore some of these treasures! This weekend my family and I will be doing some exploring – a couple places we have already been and a couple places we have yet to see. As you and your families are exploring this fall you will likely encounter buildings, bridges, trails and other infrastructure that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Established in 1933, the CCC consisted of over two million men that participated in natural resource conservation projects. They earned $30 per month, most of which was sent home to their families. Most of the men spent $5 to $8 per month to get by. Ending in 1942 as the U.S. entered WWII, some historians have credited the CCC for the great physical health of many soldiers that went right from the CCC to the military. At the next Kretz Forestry Field Day, be sure to check out our small museum where we have a few CCC treasures on display. There were about 100 CCC camps in Wisconsin and I want to highlight some of their projects in the area that could perhaps be a new adventure for you and your family this fall.
Dells of the Eau Claire County Park in Aniwa
P2150 County Highway Y Aniwa, WI 54408
The CCC worked on this park between 1935 and 1942. They constructed the north park entrance, two small trail-side shelters, the stone steps, stone stairway, foot bridge, pumphouse, the main overlook, and the large pavilion building. Be sure to check out the fireplace in the large pavilion. These resources are still there to be enjoyed and contribute to the historic character of our community. Also, many trees were planted within the park area. The park has a beautiful campground, it is a short walk to the river from the sites. You can enjoy the trails looping around the Dells, go kayaking or canoeing, or hike the Ice Age Trail through the park. If you choose to hike the trail through the park and beyond, you will see multiple harvests that Kretz Lumber has completed along the Ice Age Trail over the years.
Rib Mountain State Park
149801 State Park Rd Wausau, WI 54401
In July of 1935, a CCC camp was set up on the Wisconsin River in the Rib Mountain Township. 250 men created hiking trails, roads, the original campground and a pavilion. It was decided that Rib Mountain would make a fine winter ski area, and the CCC began work on clearing the slopes and installing a T-bar lift. The first ski event was the Central Ski Association Championship in February of 1938. The slalom, downhill, cross-country and jumping events attracted more than 465 participants and 3,000 spectators. The CCC built a beautiful shelter house, which was opened in December 1939. This shelter is still in use today by Granite Peak Ski Area. Check out Granite Peak’s website to see when you could catch one of their fall chairlift rides. There are over 13 miles of maintained trails at Rib Mountain to enjoy.
15201 Goodman Park Rd, Athelstane, WI 54104
In 1936, work was started by CCC Camp Dunbar on the development of Strong Falls on the Peshtigo River. The park was named Goodman Park in honor of Robert B. Goodman of Marinette, prominent lumberman and conservationist, who had done so much for Marinette County in the early days of land-use and forestry studies. Goodman Park was dedicated to Robert Goodman on September 25, 1938. Over 500 people attended the dedication. What an honor to have such a beautiful park named after you! Goodman Park is situated on one of the most beautiful spots of the Peshtigo River at Strong Falls. It was acquired by Marinette County on a land exchange with the Goodman Lumber Company.
The Dunbar Camp CCC men built a large log shelter with a fireplace on both ends, as well as a shelter house. A caretaker’s cabin, garage and workshop were built as well. Beautiful campground!
Parkway Rd, Athelstane, WI 54104
This property was purchased from Eleanor McClintock in 1936. McClintock Park is the “bridge park”. Four laminated, wood bridges are located over rapids in the upper Peshtigo River in northwestern Marinette County. It is a beautiful place to take pictures and have a picnic. Camping with direct access to the ATV trail is also available. Our own forester Tim Nicklaus introduced me to these Marinette County Parks when I first started at Kretz Lumber, and now I visit them at least once a year. If you do make it to Marinette County, be sure to check out the other Marinette City parks as well. I find it neat that multiple presidents have fished the Peshtigo River in the past.
Each year these parks are visited by thousands of people, ranging from those who use the buildings for grad parties, family reunions, weddings, fishing and hunting in the surrounding areas, or just having a picnic with your family like I will be doing with mine this weekend. As landowners in Wisconsin we should appreciate the legacy left behind by the CCC. These men planted over 265 million trees in our state! Let’s take a page from their book and create our own legacies. By managing our own forests we are playing an active part as conservationists. Talk to your Kretz Forester often and make sure you are doing all that you can for your property. The Griffith State Nursery has started accepting orders for tree seedlings next spring. Be sure to get your orders in! Stay tuned in to our Facebook page as Kretz will be hosting a tree planting event come spring.