ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED CONSERVATION SERVICE EMPLOYEES (ARCSE)

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    Camp No. SCS-22 , Company 763, Alma and Tecumseh, NE.

January 9, 2007

Paul Nylander joined the CCC during January, 1934 and stayed until April, 1936.  From January until June of 1934 he worked near Alma, NE.  Paul recalls "that they built terraces, planted trees, and built earthen dams to plug gullies.  The earth for the dams was moved by shovel and wheel barrow!"   In June that camp was moved from Alma to Tecumseh, NE (about 170 miles east).  When he started, the camp was led by the Soil Erosion Service under the Department of the Interior, and later by the Soil Conservation Service under the Department of Agriculture when the agency moved departments.  Paul retired from SCS in June of 1986 as National Construction Engineer.

 

  Camp No. SCS-20   Company 752   Hebron, NE.

John T. "Jack" Phelan, retired Director Engineering Division, recalls his start with SCS

I was born in Sioux City, Iowa on February 1, 1913.  My dad was a merchant and when I was about a year old he bought a general store in a little village, Dixon, NE; about thirty miles west of Sioux City.  The town was small but was surrounded by very active farming communities of Germans, Irish, Swedes, and a few other nationalities.  We lived in town.  Corn was the principle grain crop and every farm had livestock, principally cattle and hogs, supported by feed crops and pasture.  Most also raised chickens and had a number of milk cows.

 

I graduated from the University of Nebraska during the height of the depression but was lucky enough to get a job with the highway department as a rodman on road construction.  After a couple of years, I heard that the government was hiring engineers so I applied and was accepted.  As I remember, I reported to the CCC camp at Hebron, NE about July 1, 1935.  I had two or three days training in erosion control at Albion, Nebraska where the SCS had established a demonstration. Then off to work!    SCS did not yet have Regional offices so we were one of the camps that reported to the SCS Office in Salina, Kansas.

 

The Hebron CCC Camp had been built before I arrived and was designed to house about 200 enrollees.  I did not live in the camp.  The Army provided the "boys" housing, feeding, medical needs, and discipline -- and then they were turned over to our staff in the morning for the day’s work.  We had four Foremen, each in charge of a crew that worked on erosion control works on several farms.  The technical staff consisted of a Superintendent, Agronomist, Soils man and Engineer plus a few camp enrollees who helped out in the office.

 

I'm not sure what the army schedule was but I think the boys assembled on the parade ground every morning before breakfast, and again in the late afternoon just before they went to the mess hall.  The SCS staff was always pretty busy in the morning getting the day’s work lined up.  We were mildly encouraged to wear collar insignia that were made of brass. One was to be worn on each side - one said SCS - the other CCC.  A few years ago, the National Archives borrowed mine for a display they had on the CCC.  I was at Hebron until early 1939 when I was transfered to Rushvillle, Nebraska as engineer on a new Water Facilities Project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At that time, the landscape was plagued with gullies on nearly every farm quite a lot of structural work was required as well as other measures primarily, terraces, diversions and channel protection.  Tree planting also required a lot of labor.  Farm plans were prepared -- the farmers provided needed materials, power (usually horses or farm tractors) and the CCC boys provided the labor.  Demonstration events were frequent to spread the word about the need for conservation.  Other CCC camps had other programs depending upon the specific need in that location.  A neighboring camp in Kansas had a special project to build dams.

 

Contour farming - precipitation is held between crop rows and will infiltrate into the ground

rather than running over the surface and causing erosion.

 

Earthen embankment used to stabilize a gully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cottonwood trees planted in a low area to hold soil in place and slow the velocity of surface runoff.

 

 

Demonstration events were frequent to spread the word about the need for conservation.  Other CCC camps had other programs depending upon the specific need in their location.  A neighboring camp in Kansas had a special project to build dams.

 

Community demonstration day.  Man at lower left is Evan Hartman, Camp Superintendant. Tony Vrana remembers "Evan was the Extension Conservationist for the University. I met him a few times but learned more about his work from a batch of pictures that D.E. Hutchinson, SCS, turned over to me while I was at Ankeny. I have since given them to the Nebraska State Historical Society. Evan appeared on many of them."

 

   Assembled by Owen Lee    October 29, 2005