The Sugarlands visitor center in the Great Smoky Mountains national park near the Gatlinburg Tennessee park entrance will be where the monumental programs commemorating the 75th Anniversary Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and their work will be held from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm on September 27th.
Along with the dedications, musical entertainment, panel discussions and lectures at the Sugarlands visitor center, both the Oconaluftee visitor center near the Cherokee North Carolina entrance of the park as well as the Sugarlands visitor center will have special CCC exhibits.
By now you may be wondering what the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was. The CCC is a perfect example of the long lasting effect that a quality socially responsible government program can have.
Established in 19333 during the Great Depression the CCC was a federal work project aimed at conservation work on federal and state lands while employing unmarried, unemployed, men that were physically fit and from18 to 25 years of age. I have been told that some as young as 15 were able to sneak into the program.
No only where these men able to scratch out a few dollars for themselves which they mostly sent home to their families, they were able to learn valuable skills and gain experience all the while improving the quality of public lands throughout the United States.
Look around in the Great Smoky Mountains national park and almost everything you see that is man made was originally built by these hard working hardy men. Hiking as much as I do in the park I can come back after a long day completely drained and I was just hiking on a trail, not building it rock by rock by hand.
This picture shows workers from the CCC working on the Bull Head Trail. This hiking trail starts in the Roaring Fork Area of the park near Gatlinburg and climbs all the way up to Mount Le Conte. Taking the Bull Head Hiking trail up and retuning back down via the Rainbow Falls trail is my favorite way to climb Mt Le Conte.
The roads and bridges in the Great Smoky Mountains were also built by the CCC. The beauty of the hand cut blocks of stone that make up the bridges and guard rails in the GSMNP blend incredibly well with the natural backdrop of the park. Some of the buildings such as the park headquarters near Gatlinburg and the Oconaluftee visitor center were also built by the CCC along with the fire and lookout towers.
All this work was done by close to 4,000 members of the CCC brigade who resided in 22 work camps within the confines of the park from 1933 - 1942.
Once I understood what these men in the CCC have done, not a day goes by when I am in the park I don't marvel at the hard work that they have done that we can appreciate 75 years later and for many more years to come. There blood sweat and tears that built this place bring untold happiness and joy that come here in the Great Smoky Mountains national park.
Sugarlands Visitor Center CCC Programs 9-27-08
The activities will include interpretive programs, a panel discussion, and musical entertainment at the Sugarlands Visitor Center with two hikes scheduled in other areas of the Park. The schedule includes:
- 10:00 am: "That Magnificent Army of Youth and Peace: The CCC in the Great Smoky Mountains" by Dr. Harley Jolley
- 11:00 am: "Dollar-a-Day Boys: A Musical Tribute to the CCC" by Bill Jamerson
- 12:30 pm: Dedication of memorial plaque to the CCC
- 1:00 pm: "That Magnificent Army of Youth and Peace" by Dr. Jolley
- 2:00 pm: "CCC Fire Tower Construction in the Smokies" by Charles Maynard
- 3:00 pm: 1 hour panel discussion with former CCC workers, moderated by Erik Kreusch the GSMNP archaeologist
Beside these programs there are 2 moderate guided hikes planed to take you the location of CCC camps in the Great Smoky Mountains national park:
- Friday, September 26 at 10:00 am Kephart Prong trailhead off Newfound Gap Road US441 in North Carolina
- Saturday, September 27, at 1:00 pm Staring at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and hiking up along the Old Sugarlands Trail.
All of the activities commemorating the CCC in the Great Smoky Mountains national park are free and open to anyone.