Maine's Civilian Conservation Corps camps arose quickly, only a month after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the enabling legislation on March 31, 1933.
Young men -- ages 18 to 25, single, unemployed, and in good physical condition -- and some World War I veterans were eligible to sign up for the outdoor work.
The CCC recruits arrived from several weeks of "boot camp" at places like Fort Williams in Portland.
The military conducted the training and administered the camps, which resembled military establishments.
But the Maine Forest Service or National Park Service directed the work the men did.
The enrollees who arrived at the Jefferson CCC camp when it opened in June 1933 were World War I veterans.
Until September 1935, 389 (V) Co. served the "Bonus Army," named for veterans who had been pleading with President Franklin Roosevelt and his predecessors for bonuses due them from World War I service.
The Jefferson camp was one of four Bonus Camps in Maine. One at Beddington also lasted until 1935. The other two, at Kokadjo and Seboomook operated for a few months in 1933.
The goal of the CCC was to put young men to work doing jobs that would benefit the environment and the community at large.
It was also to help support the families of those men.
Enrollees earned $30 a month. They were to send $25 of that home to their families.
Like the other Forest Service-run camps in organized towns, Jefferson focused on tree and plant disease control.
From October to April, enrollees did Gypsy Moth control. In warmer months, they were responsible for controlling white pine blister rust.
The CCC men also surveyed and worked on eradicating European spruce sawfly.
In the unorganized territories further north in Maine, the Forest Service camp enrollees concentrated their efforts on forest fire prevention, carrying out a variety of tasks such as clearing brush and building roads and trails for firefighting equipment.
When the tasks a CCC crew was assigned were too far from the camp to make travel reasonable, they built side camps where the enrollees could live while working in the area.
CCC men from Alfred built a side camp at Sebago to do gypsy moth control there in the winter.
CCCers also built a lunch ground at Sebago Lake.
Most camps had about 200 men enrolled. They lived in dorms, military style.
A newspaper report from Alfred in 1933 noted, "The camp is under strict discipline."
Men were awakened at 5:45 a.m., had breakfast, then training exercises, followed by work from 8 to noon and 1 to 5.
But their lives were not all work. They had time for recreation and education in the evenings.
Here, enrollees at Jefferson have Christmas dinner at the camp in 1933.
Many of the CCC enrollees reported the food was good and plentiful, a relief for those who had struggled economically before enrolling.
The camps also offered sports activities, various types of recreation, and educational programs.
In the winter, men skied, snowshoed and skated. Most camps had pool tables and card tables. There were track teams, baseball teams, boxing.
Men went home for visits, or to nearby towns to the movies
A number of CCC young men earned high school diplomas or certificates of completion of work, and received training in various job skills.
At first, CCC enrollment was to be limited to six months. Soon, however, the program was extended to two years.
Therefore, the crews at the camps were not static, with men leaving and others arriving.
Each new group had to be trained in the necessary work skills.
The outdoor work continued from summer to winter. Besides shoveling snow, the Jefferson men worked in the winter removing Gypsy Moth nests from trees.
One of their work assignments was in Togus.
The men sometimes rode in the back of an open pickup truck the half-hour from Jefferson to Togus, regardless of temperature or weather conditions, then worked outside all day, and rode home again in the back of the truck.
Work tasks varied over time.
While the Jefferson camp was engaged in disease and pest control, it also undertook a project at state-owned land in Augusta where men cleared ravines, planted trees and created a park.
The Augusta project was the beginning of what was to be an arboretum.
Crews also built foot trails, footbridges, hand rails, picnic tables, benches, and an artificial pond.
The CCC members from Jefferson who worked on the project were part of the Bonus Army World War I veterans.
Forest Service officials selected camp locations based on heavy pest infestations.
In Alfred, as in the other southern Maine Forest Service camps, the men did gypsy moth work in the winter and white pine blister rust work in the summer -- and took on other tasks as the need arose.
Here, men from the camp are cutting diseased apple trees.
The Alfred camp began June 1, 1933, at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts, but moved to Maine by the end of the month.
D. L. Moody was superintendent of the Alfred Camp.
While the military was in charge of running the camps -- food, shelter, discipline -- the Forest Service determined what work the men did and each camp had a trained entomologist and other technicians on staff.
Moody worked for the Forest Service. He is shown with a "pet" crow that appeared in several photographs of the CCC camp.
Men from the Lewiston CCC camp, which operated from June 1933 to May 1937, also were primarily involved in insect and disease control.
Here, however, they are shown working on a road at Bear Mountain near Waterford to improve access to the Forest Service Fire Tower there.
The Alfred CCC crew helped clear roads during snow storms and engaged in other emergency work.
During the Flood of 1936, they helped with sandbags along the Saco River, repaired roads, hauled drinking water, and cleared debris, among other tasks.
Men at other camps also did flood control and repair work in 1936 and helped clear debris and open roads after the Hurricane of 1938, as well as doing other hurricane-related jobs.
Gypsy moths were quite prevalent in Maine in the early to mid 1930s.
Thirty of the Alfred CCC members went to Sebago during the winter to remove moth egg masses with the goal of making life more pleasant for camps and individuals on the lakefront.
Henry B. Peirson, State Forest Entomologist from 1928-1956, is shown in a tree in Alfred, doing gypsy moth control work.
Gypsy moth eradication could be challenging as men shinnied up trees or climbed ropes to get into the upper limbs, then soaked egg masses that were on the bottom of the branches with creosote.
While CCC men removed gypsy moth egg masses in the winter, they also surveyed the areas in which they worked for white pine blister rust problems.
White pine blister rust is a fungus that spreads from currant or gooseberry bushes, known as ribes, to white pine trees and back. It grows on the pine needles, then spreads to circle the tree, eventually killing it.
Part of the CCC task was removing currant and gooseberry bushes that grew within 900 feet of white pine trees.
Among their other accomplishments, the CCC camps in Maine performed tree and plant control disease work on 331,397 acres and tree insect pest control on 770,585 acres.
They spent 245 man days on tree preservation.
CCC crews also treated 13,861,782 gypsy moth egg masses, destroyed 352,239 brown tail moth webs and destroyed 270,230 weeviled white pine tops.
The men destroyed 679,512 ribes in white pine blister rust control and collected 1,840,031 spruce sawfly cocoons.
And, as one former CCC enrollee said, "The CCC had a tremendous influence on my life providing me with experience I could not have got elsewhere."
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