History in the Forest

To the Editor:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Are you aware of the piece of history hidden in Willoughby State Forest (WSF)? In 1933, while the United States was gripped by the Great Depression, CCC Camp 55 opened in the WSF as part of a public work relief program under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) had two goals; to support families by providing work for young men (of the $30.00 they earned each month $25.00 was sent to their families) and to provide a lifeline for those same young men by giving them meaningful work, healthy meals and a chance to learn new skills. Much of the work of the CCC Camps focused on the conservation and development of natural resources. Workers also constructed public buildings such as the bath house at Crystal Lake State Park.

CCC Camp 55, located off Dolloff Pond Road in Sutton, housed young men from 1933 to 1938. There are many surviving remnants of the camp including the pool and an extensive aqueduct system. The camp was intended to become a park when the CCC work was completed but it became part of the forest landscape and is not well known even by local hikers. Friends of Willoughby State Forest hopes to restore the camp and create a destination in the forest that includes trails, kiosks with historical information, interpretive signs and accessible paths throughout the camp.

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