CCC Worker Statue, Pennsylvania Lumber Museum

Sharing the Common Wealth showcases objects, artifacts, documents, structures and buildings from the collections of PHMC.
CCC Worker Statue. Pennsylvania Lumber Museum/Photo by Joshua Roth

CCC Worker Statue. Pennsylvania Lumber Museum/Photo by Joshua Roth

America’s woodlands were still in recovery from deforestation when the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was established in 1933 as one of several work relief programs initiated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. The program achieved two ends with a single effort by giving young men the opportunity to work to provide income for their unemployed families while simultaneously creating a workforce to conserve the nation’s forests and natural resources.

Trees had been one of Pennsylvania’s leading renewable resources from as far back as the mid-1700s, but the rapid pace of harvesting through the next century depleted more than 60 percent of the commonwealth’s woodlands. By the early 20th century the great Pennsylvania lumber dynasties had cut down millions of acres of forest in the state. Although a blight killed most of the state’s chestnut trees (see “Castanea… From Blight to Backcross Breeding”), other species such as the white pine became endangered through aggressive lumbering. Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Forestry led the effort to regrow the state’s forests in the early 1900s, and CCC enrollees in Pennsylvania supplemented this work in the years leading up to World War II.

In addition to building trails and park facilities, constructing dams, conserving wildlife, and fighting fires (see Marking Time: Pepper Hill Fire of 1938), CCC workers planted nearly 3 billion trees to regenerate America’s forests. Pennsylvania was one of the leading states in the number of CCC camps, with 153 spread across the commonwealth. Throughout the nine years that the program was in operation, more than 194,500 young Pennsylvanians had been enrolled.

In the 1990s a national effort began to mark areas near CCC camps throughout America with memorial CCC Worker Statues. To date, seven have been placed at locations throughout Pennsylvania. This one was installed at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum near Galeton, Potter County, in front of a chestnut log cabin that had been constructed by enrollees from the nearby Dyer Farm CCC Camp S-135. The cast bronze statue was manufactured by D&D Enterprises of Grayling, Michigan (since 2016 statues have been produced by the CCC Legacy Group). It was dedicated at the museum on September 25, 2011, with five former CCC workers in attendance.

The statue and cabin are part of the expansive outdoor exhibits at the museum, which include a recreated 1900–10 lumber camp with bunkhouse and mess hall, a Shay locomotive, a Barnhart log loader, and an operating steam-powered sawmill. The recently renovated Visitor Center includes an award-winning core exhibit that presents the history of lumbering in Pennsylvania, with a section that focuses on the vital story of the CCC in the commonwealth.

 

Kyle R. Weaver is the editor of Pennsylvania Heritage.