ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED CONSERVATION SERVICE EMPLOYEES (ARCSE)

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Camp No. IL-SCS-15   Company 2664   near Mt. Carroll, IL, May 3, 2009.

Colonel Charles E McGee (retired) was born in Ohio in 1919.   After graduating from high school in a suburb of Chicago, IL in 1938, he joined the CCC to get money to go to college.   He served in the CCC from late 1938 to early 1939 (twelfth six month camp period).   He was assigned to Company 2664 which worked out of Camp IL-SCS-15 near Mt. Carroll, IL, which was supervised by the SCS.   Charles worked with engineers, handling the transit laying out contours and doing other road and farm projects.   After that, He attended the University of Illinois and when WWII broke out he learned to fly at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.   At the University of Illinois Alumni Club of Greater Washington DC's annual meeting May 3, 2009 Charles received the prestigious "Illini of Year" award.

 

Camp No. IL-SCS-14   Company 1659   near Henry, IL January 3, 2007.

Neil Bogner grew up in the small town of Henry, IL.   He was 11 years old when the CCC camp opened in June of 1939, and the small town atmosphere gave him a good chance to get acquainted with the CCCers.   Many of the CCC project leaders lived in the town of Henry, and not in the camp itself.   After graduating from the University of Illinois with a BS degree in Engineering, Neil had a 33 year career with SCS retiring as the National Engineering Division Director.   Here is Neil's story:

 

My CCC Memories

My clearest memories of the CCC camp that was located in Henry, Illinois is of having watched the trucks loaded with enrollees heading out to their days work installing conservation practices.   I never visited the camp while it was active.   [Within the past couple of years I tried to find traces of the camp but was unsuccessful.]   The camp was located right at or in the town of Henry overlooking the Illinois River.

 

I do have many memories of the technical leaders from that camp that lived in Henry.   Many of them stayed in Henry after the camp closed and until they were assigned to other locations.   Several of them lived on our street or close by.   In a town that strove to reach 2000 people in those days it was easy to know who these men were.   It was seeing them and getting to know some of them that influenced me to make the Soil Conservation Service my career.   So my memories of the CCC’s are more about the people who were a part of the Organization than about the CCC’s.

 

The person that influenced me the most during the period when the camps were closing was Hampton "Hamp" Long.   He lived across the street from us.   Hamp was a friendly, energetic person and his enthusiasm for the work he was doing was infectious.   Many of the "staff" from the Henry camp were assigned to Soil Conservation Districts (SCD) as the camp was closed.   As I recall - Frank Beeba was named the Work Unit Conservationist in the Stark SCD which was adjacent to Marshall County where Henry is located.   Also from this camp, Loren Bryan was assigned to LaSalle SCD which also abuts Marshall Co.   [It seems like Loren continued to live in Henry while his daughter was in high school.   I remember that she was at least 1 class ahead of me.]   Another staff person that was assigned away from Henry was Harold Hart.   I’m not sure where his original assignment took him but I do know that he and I, many years later, were in the same SCS Area.   Harold lived down at the corner from where we lived.   And finally, Calvin Coolidge, who lived on our street, was transferred up to somewhere in Northern Illinois.

 

The only "enrollee" that I met and got to know was Evans Butler.   When the camp closed Evans was kept on as a Technician in the SCS office in Henry.   In later years Evans was promoted to the District Conservationists position in Henry.   He stayed in Henry after he retired.   He lived quite close to where our house was and I saw him often over the years.

 

I spent my student engineering trainee year in Henry.   That gave me an opportunity to work with Evans, Bryan and Beeba.   But most of my time was spent with Evans.   He and I spent many a day laying out and overseeing the construction of waterways and terrace systems.   In those days the terraces were built by tractor and plow.   It was slow and took some really long days.   Evans, or "Butler" as he was known, became Mr. Conservation in the Marshall-Putnam SCD.   I often visited him when I got back to Henry and really missed him when he died.

 

This recitation on memories about the CCC people would be complete without reporting my final contacts with Hamp Long.   When he moved from Henry he was assigned as the Area Conservationist in Macomb, IL.   In December 1954, I was transferred to Macomb as the Area/Project Engineer.   That gave me an opportunity to spend the next 7 years of my career as Hamp’s Area Engineer.   All of the good impressions that he made on me those many years earlier proved to be true and then some.

 

Like so many SCS offices in the early 50’s, project work was just becoming a part of the SCS program.   The Old Tom Creek Pilot Watershed was started in the summer of 1954 and was finished late in 1958.   Not only was this project activity new for me but it was also a new experience for Hamp.   We spent many an hour together meeting with local leaders, land owners, and contractors as the project was installed.

 

My wife, Eleanor, and I started our married life at the same time I started working in Macomb.   We were there until the spring of 1961.   Our two oldest sons were born there.   And in those years Hamp became not only the boss but a friend.   Hamp died sometime ago.   His wife, Vera, now lives near Denver, CO near her daughter.   We still exchange cards and letters at Christmas time.   This is a friendship that now spans nearly 70 years.

 

A side note - Whenever I think about former CCC staff, I always recall O. T. Dobyns.   He was my first engineering supervisor in SCS and he later became the SCS State Conservation Engineer for Illinois.   Early on when we were in the same office I heard many, many CCC stories.   The experiences that those people had as they "started" SCS gave all of us an example that provided us with the incentive to always try to do the best possible job.

 

I left Illinois in Feb. 1961 and went on to other places and positions.   But I never forgot those early days and those men that made such an impression on me.   They led me to become a SCS’er and I shall always be grateful to them.

 

Camp No. IL-SCS-9   Durand, IL. CCC Project No. Ill-3 Camp No. SCS-9 (Durand, IL) on Kenneth Ralston farm submitted by David Ralston retired SCS Engineer.

 

Kenneth Ralston, born in 1895 and living to 96 years of age, worked on the family farm southeast of Roscoe, Illinois from the age of about 19.   The farm was settled by his grandfather in about 1846 and he had in turn purchased it from his uncle (father's brother).   He had served on the local school board for a few years and then served on the Winnebago Soil Conservation District board as secratery for about 8 years in the 1950's and early 60's.   Following this he served on the county ASCS Committee for a similar period of time.   He was an early participant in conservation practices through an agreement with the District.   In the late 1930's one of the 40 acre field in the back of the farm was terraced by employees of the Durand CCC Camp and also a waterway draining down near the homestead was shaped and seeded to prevent further gullying.   The conservation plan prepared for the 240 acre farm was completed in 1939.   An adjacent 180 acre farm was purchased in 1947 and incorporated into the farm enterprise by removal of fence lines and formation of contoured field arrangements.   The original conservation plan was signed by Kenneth Ralston and the SCS project manager, William S. "WS" Speer.   One of Kenneth's sons, David C. Ralston, an SCS employee for 36 years married a daughter of "WS" Speer in 1956.   This made the conservation plan pretty unique - it was signed by Dave's father and father-in-law.

 

In 1946 a demonstration field day was conducted on the Ralston farm by International Harvester for purposes of demonstrating conservation oriented field equipment to their dealers from around the region.   In 1949 Kenneth was awarded the honor of one of the 7 outstanding conservation farmers by the Des Moines Register during the National Conservation Field Day and Plowing Match near Runnels, Iowa.   A few years later he was appointed by the governor to the State of Illinois Soil Conservation Board; serving two years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the fall of 1944, the Soil Conservation Service selected the Ralston farm for an “in Service” training demonstration cooperating with the International Harvester Company.   Several experimental types of machines were being field-tested.   Therefore, the meeting was not open to the public.

 

 

A two-way 2 bottom plow was demonstrated.

 

Tractors and the improved hydraulic lift, so important in conservation field work, was a big part of the show.

 

Folks gathered close to see how the hay job had been mechanized.

 

Hay harvester equipment was demonstrated.   Our terraced field was used for this part of the show.

 

A heavy built hay loader handled green cut hay satisfactorily.

 

When Dr. Van Doren, our Soil Conservation Service research man in Illinois, visited our farm, he noticed the soil deposits in the fence row northeast of the barn.   The area above, in the neighboring farm, has now been strip cropped and soil movement has been controlled.

 

Plaque received by Kenneth in 1949, for being an outstanding conservation farmer.

 

This highway bank is being shelved and planted to black locust trees by CCC boys.   This is a demonstration to see how successfully trees will be able to withstand erosion on the banks.

 

The quarry and crusher are rented by the Association for the counties of Wayne, Wabash, and Edwards.   It is operated by one crew of CCC boys.   A truck is dumping rock into the pulverizer.   The limestone ledge where the rock is quarried can be seen in the foreground.   In the background to the right, 800 tons of agricultural limestone is stockpiled.   This is sold to the farmer for 60 cents a ton.   The crusher averages 30 tons of limestone a day.   It is located on the J. C. Pride farm near Fairfield, Illinois.

 

This earth fill will impound water that will cover the heads of the gullies and prevent further cutting on the Samuel A. Orr farm near Enfield, Illinois.   Drainage area is 130 acres.   In the middle of the dam is a concrete U-type dam measuring 6 ft by 6 ft and having a 10 ½ ft drop.   It contains 15.5 cubic yards of cement.   The fill is 7.5 ft high.   The cooperator furnished all materials.

 

Reinforced concrete dam on George Works farm near Albion, Illinois.   Notch is 24 feet by 3 feet with overfall of 5 feet.   Picture was taken July 20, 1937.

 

Camp No. SCS-24   Norris City, IL. This is the safety record of camp Ill-24 at Norris City, Illinois when the camp was abandoned.   The sign is opposite the garage where it is visible to enrollees as they load and unload from the trucks.

 

Assembled by Owen Lee July 16, 2004 last updated Jan 3, 2007.