Monday, June 24, 2013

The Civilian Conservation Corps Museum

This weekend we wandered up to Allenstown, New Hampshire to visit Bear Brook State Park. There is a small museum complex there with a CCC museum, a Snow Mobile Museum, and a currently closed Family Camping Museum.  The entire complex used to be a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp between 1935 and 1942.  It is one of the most perfectly preserved CCC camps in the USA, with most of the buildings still standing and in very nice shape. There is also a modern Ameri Corps camp on the other side of Bear Brook State Park, where today's college students performs some of the same duties as their forebears did in the CCC during the Great Depression.

The CCC was developed as a temporary agency to provide work relief.  Over 3 million young men participated in the CCC during the nine years it operated, building roads, state and national parks, reforestation efforts and forest fire fighting in 48 states, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.  The young men received $30 a month, of which $25 was sent home to their families. By 1942 these same young men were being drafted into service for World War II, and work relief was no longer needed, so Congress permanently closed the program.

If you have ancestors or family members who served in the CCC, the records of their service are kept in St. Louis at the National Archives annex.  The Richard Diehl CCC Museum in Allenstown has hundreds of photographs, lists of names of men, artifacts and a small library of books with information on the CCC, the Bear Brook Camp, other camps in New Hampshire and across New England.  The building was once the mess hall, and you can wander around to look at the other buildings, which were mostly barracks. 

1935- 1942
The Bear Brook Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
Camp was one of 28 work camps established in 
N.H. between 1933 and 1942. President Franklin D. 
Roosevelt started the program after the Depression 
to put young unemployed men to work in
conservation.  From 1925 to 1938 the 1123rd Co. CCC
was here; later this was one of four CCC camps in
the state to employ World War I veterans.  bear
Brook was the last active CCC camp in N. H. and was
given to the state in 1943.  It was listed in the 
National Register of Historic Places in 1992 as
one of the country's most intact CCC camps.

A typical bed from a CCC barrack, with a footlocker
owned by CCC alumni, Robert Ellis, of company 2130

Actual dishes and items from the CCC mess hall

This collage of fading photographs was propped in a window of the CCC Museum.
These photos are curling at the edges, fragile and yet the faces of the young men are still visible.
This museum, and others like it, need some help with archival preservation techniques. 

One of the large fieldstone fireplaces in one of the barrack buildings, 
now being used as the Snow Mobile Museum.  
This was the only heat for the young men during the cold New Hampshire winters. 

At the beach nearby the museum is a statue to the CCC workers

Across from the CCC worker statue is a pavillion overlooking the swimming pond.
In the 1930s the CCC workers dug out a three foot brook,
 built a dam, and developed the pond for recreation.
The fieldstone pavillion is a testament to their workmanship eighty years later! 

My mother's cousin, Waldo Emerson Cooper (1913 - 1976) served in the CCC starting in 1935.  He was born in Westborough, Massachusetts, and died in Los Angeles, California.  I don't know where he served in the CCC, but it might have been in New Hampshire where there were many forestry programs and state parks being built.   He enlisted in the US Army Air Corps in 1944, like so many other young men of his age. The family lost track of him over the years, but I was able to find his death listed in the California Death Index at   It would be quite a genealogy adventure to write to the National Archives to read more about his service in the CCC.

** This post is the first in a series I think I will call "20th Century Americana".  These are things I find around New England from the recent past, but they are now history since we are now in the 21st century.  Not many of these things are currently being preserved or saved, but they are part of history and family history.  I thought the Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Allenstown was a good place to start.

For more information:

Bear Brook State Park:

A listing of CCC Museums across the USA:

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. A very interesting post -- and another worthwhile series/project on Nutfield Genealogy! I have not visited the museum at Bear Brook, but I have seen many other CCC projects in parks. I am always very impressed with the stone workmanship and the fact that the structures have aged so well in most cases. I look forward to more posts in this new series!

  2. I was there so many times as a youngster. I forgot all about it until your post. I remember the nature preserve part with the old cabin. Thank you for the memories. We lived down the road. We swam, boated or fished there almost year round.

  3. I loved these childrens camps as a kid. We used to spend a week or 2 every summer there. the lodges are masterpieces and the way they used all local material is awesome. I went to the auction a while back when they closed Bear Brook camp but only came away with an old bench from one of the cabins. Did they do anything with the camps since their closure to kids groups?

    1. I'm not sure about the children's camps. There was still a sign up for them at the park, and that is down the same road where the AmeriCorps students were living. Perhaps the AmeriCorps took over those area? Just a guess.

  4. Thank you for ALL this information. I have great respect for the CCC, and I think we really need to revive this program, or something very like it, today. It gave jobs to 3 million men who built roads and preserved parks. Today we need roads and bridges repaired and transportation systems updated. We need this badly!

    For most people the CCC is a distant and vague memory, and I think you are doing a great service by bringing back the memories and the reality of it to our minds in the present day. It worked so well! It was well organized. I hope people will become more aware. Thanks!

  5. I enjoyed comparing your photos to the photos that I've been posting on my blog from my dad's CCC album from Campton, NH! The bunks look the same and the dining hall table looks the same, but the color really makes it all seem so much more real. Thank you for posting this. Now I want to to visit Bear Brook!

    1. Have fun at the museum, and bring your little boy to swim and enjoy all the other pleasure of the State Park. The swimming hole and roads were all constructed by CCC workers.

  6. Heather: I have mentioned and linked to this post in Saturday Serendipity this week. I look forward to future "20th Centruy Americana " posts!