ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED CONSERVATION SERVICE EMPLOYEES (ARCSE)

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CCC Work in SOUTH DAKOTA

 

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Thanks to George Decker and Patti (George’s daughter) for this story.

 

George Decker was born in 1917 near Fargo, ND.   He graduated high school in 1935, and from the SD School of Mines in 1939 as an Agricultural Engineer.   He joined the CCC the day after Christmas in 1939 at Fort Meade near Sturgis, SD.   He rented a room in one of the fort's barracks for 5 dollars per month.   Ft. Meade housed the 7th Army Cavalry Division which was the same division General Custer was assigned.

 

George was one of the CCC project leaders that planned, designed, and constructed contour strips, grassed waterways, and farm ponds on farms near the Fort.   The CCC boys that he supervised were mostly from Arkansas.   Following the tradition of the CCC most of the work was done manually.   The boys would build the earth embankment for the ponds by shoveling soil into a wheelbarrow, wheeling it to the site, and dumping it.   George recalls "one boy was lazy and would only put a couple of shovels full of soil in the wheelbarrow.   When I told him to bring it full, the boy said 'full is just a matter of opinion' ."

 

George was in the National Guard, and on February 14th, 1941 his CCC work ended and he reported for military duty.   After serving in the Pacific theatre during WWII, he started his SCS career at Spearfish, SD.   He finished his career with SCS as a contract specialist in the National Office serving there from 1963 until 1974 when he retired.

 

Thanks to Peggy Sanders, author and historian, for this picture. She authored 3 wonderful books on the CCC in SD.   Visit her web site.

 

Wind Cave, SD - Camp SD-NP-1:

Thanks to Jim Pisarowicz, Lead Interpreter, of Wind Cave National Park for the following information and pictures.

 

At the request of Dixon Freeland, Wind Cave Park Superintendent, a CCC camp was established July 9, 1934.   The camp was SD-NP-1, and was initially created as a drought relief camp.   The boys sloped road ditches and used other measures to prevent erosion in the area.   Of course, fire-fighting and fire prevention also got attention.   The danger of fire was high during the hot dry summers, especially during the drought years.   The fire tower at Rankin Ridge was constructed for early detection (see first picture below).   Outdoor work was difficult during cold, snowy winter months, so more time was spent working down in the cave and learning in the classroom.   The pictures below show the building of the elevator tower, with a shaft down to the cave, with running water, and electricity.   Then come pictures, of the construction of the access roads.

 

In 1935, a side camp of 25 men was started at Jewel Cave to help develop that site.   In 1939, the boys were being reassigned to a new camp at Badlands National Monument, and by 1941 the boys were all gone.   The camp was closed and the buildings torn down.   Only one building remains today.

 

Building the Rankin Ridge Fire Tower

Rankin Ridge Fire Tower - June 3, 2007

 

Building the elevator shaft tower

 

Work on the tower continues

 

Workers up close

 

Installing the water pipeline by hand!

 

Stringing the electric cable

 

Back view of tower

 

 

Pull on that rope!

 

View of temporary walkway

 

All downhill now

 

It is finished!

 

Men working on cave pathway

 

Building stairs

 

Electrical is in.

 

Surveying for the road layout

 

Roadgrader carving out a road

 

A workin' on the road all the live long day!

 

Men building rock wall.

 

Rock wall construction.

 

Building the Wayside Exhibit

 

Adding the guard rail

 

Landscaping in front of the Visitor Center.

 

View of the camp from the hill behind the Visitor Center.