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CCC Memories

©Bernard C. Taylor

In the December issue of Springhouse, people who knew something about the Eldorado Civilian Conservation Corps Camp were invited to respond. I came to the camp as a foreman for the State of Illinois Emergency Conservation work program in June, 1933, during the days this camp was being developed. I was one of the so-called "State Men" by the Army personnel, who ran the camp, and the enrollees.

The camp was located on about 10 acres of ground on the west side of the City of Eldorado reservoir. This was about two miles west of Eldorado, just north of the Eldorado-Raleigh road. Karel Park now occupies the same grounds as the camp.

The U.S. Army had a captain and two lieutenants in charge of the camp, along with a doctor and dentist, both of captain rank. The Army had charge of the housing, clothing, feeding, doctoring and dentistry, discipline, etc. The State Men had charge of the enrollees when they were taken to tne field, about 20 to 30 in a detail to do soil conservation work in the surrounding area. This consisted of reshaping and healing gullies, establishing grass waterways, planting trees, and building earth dams with concrete spillways, etc.--all of this to control erosion and keep silt from getting into the streams and rivers.

The enrollees, about age 16-20, and some in their 20ís, came mainly from the large cities in the State. A full complement was about 120 enrollees in a camp and this was true of the Eldorado Camp. The enrollees were paid $30 per month, of which they received $5.00 in cash with the remainder sent to their parents or guardians. They were enrolled for three years of service.

The camps, of which there were many in the State of Illinois, as well as most all states in the Union, were allowed to employ about eight local people. These were generally selected for their special skills, such as carpentry, dynamiting, mechanics, blacksmithing and tool repair, concrete work, etc. These tended to be older men in their late 20ís and older. Such men were known as L.E.M.ís, for local enrolled men.

About the time I arrived local construction of the semi-permanent buildings that made up the camp was just beginning. These were the Army personnel headquarters, doctors and dentists office and small dispensary, kitchen, mess hall, barracks for the enrollees, barracks and headquarters for the State Men, canteen and recreation building, tool shed, garage to maintain and service trucks, etc.

 

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