Clear Creek State Park
Company 353, Camp S-53, Sigel, Pennsylvania
From an article in the Jeffersonian Democrat, Brookville, Pa
Sigel - Clear Creek State Park is a well known haven for day visitors and campers. What most visitors don't know it that much of the park wasn't built by the state, but by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
Company 353, Camp S-53 of the CCC set up camp at what is now Cedar Creek State Park, located near Sigel, in 1933. Run as a military style camp, boys and men came to the area where they built a park out of the wilderness.
Upon entering today's park there are cabins on both sides of the road. These cabins at one time served as officers headquarters, a blacksmith shop, and a general store. Many of these cabins that were originally built in the 1930's by the CCC are still rented out by the park today.
"The cabins have lasted remarkably well", said the Clear Creek State Park Manager.
He said that the park is currently insulating the roofs of some cabins and that down the line they may be replacing the wood burners with natural gas.
"Some of the cabins were built out of standing,dead chestnut trees after the blight had gone through. Most of those trees were resistant to the blight."
During the four year period at Clear Creek, the CCC constructed not only cabins but the camp raod, foot bridges, bridges, and the dam located at today's swimming and beach area.
"The CCC most likely kept quite a few of the smaller businesses in the Brookville Area such as Blake's Hardware from going bankrupt. While the CCC was constructing their camp at Clear Creek they had to buy alot of supplies which in turn helped to stimulate the local economy."
Among the first emergency acts to be passed by Congress, the Conservation Act was primarily a relief measure.
In 1937 President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to make the CCC a permanent agency and to provide $300,000,000 in his budget estimate for the fiscal year of 1938 for the maintenance of the corps.
In the two year period begining January 1, 1935, and ending March 1, 1937, 209 men or boys in Jefferson County enrolled through the county office.
Of the 209 cases recorded only 18 or 8.6% were active on direct relief rolls in 1937. 91.5% of these 209 cases have been closed. 26.8% left for private employment, an interesting point to consider in view of vocational courses conducted in all of the camps during which the participants were taught allied trades and crafts, in addition to regular scholastic studies. 56.5% were closed for Works Progress Association (WPA) employment and 17% closed for other reasons.
The camp at Clear Creek closed just before Christmas in 1939. Army trucks made a convoy carrying the CCC boys back to their homes and into history.
But their story remains with us, monuments in stone, cement and wood that are enjoyed by thousands every year at Clear Creek State Park.
Rattle Snake Cage, D. Shields, Company 353, Camp S-53, Brookville, Pa
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