History of 640th Civilian Conservation Corps Company

 

CCC Company 640, F-42, Drummond, Wisconsin

 

From Sparta Civilian Conservation Corps District, Sixth Corps Area, 1937 Annual

 

History:
640th Company
F-42
Drummond, Wisconsin

          One of the first companies formed at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, to be sent north into Wisconsin, the 640th Company of the Civilian Conservation Corps may justly lay claim to being one of the oldest units in the state of Wisconsin. The original company, comprised mainly of Milwaukee men, originated at Fort Sheridan April 15, 1933, under the command of Capt. Norman N. Rogers, who moved with the company to its first station at Camp Brinks, F-5, Washburn, Wis., on April 26.

          With an average company strength of 190 at Brinks, certain pioneering hardships were encountered in the early months. The enrollees were housed in six of the long forty-man tents and ate regularly from their mess kits. Work at Camp Brinks in those early days was varied, but road construction and tree planting were the major projects the summer and fall of 1933.

          On November 15, 1933, the 640th Company moved into winter barracks at Camp Morse, Morse, Wisconsin. During this winter stay at Camp Morse, Lieut. Frank Renskers, Inf.-Res., took over the company. Timber stand improvement was the main work on the project through the cold months.

          The company moved back to Camp Brinks on May 4, 1934, and this time to much improved conditions, with squad tents and floors and other homely comforts.  In June, 1934, Lieutenant Renskers relinquished command of the company to Lieut. W. B. Gruselle, FA-Res.

          There was one day of great excitement in the woods that summer where the men of the 640th Company were working. Forest Service Mechanic Peterson was plowing furrows when a giant black bear, easily six feet tall, and weighing 500 pounds, charged from his cave where he had been disturbed. As the big bear charged, Peterson instinctively swung his tractor around and met the animal head-on. The next moment the wheels of the tractor had pinned the bear underneath and Peterson killed him with head blows with his monkey-wrench.

          During the total period of eighteen months spent by 640th Company at Camp Brinks, an enviable record of work accomplished was established. Some 4,703 acres of land was planted, twenty miles of telephone lines were constructed, 512 acres of timber stand improvement were completed, forty-four miles of forest service truck trails were made, and 144,500 fish were planted in lakes of the area.

          When the company moved to Camp Drummond on Pigeon Lake, October 26, 1934, the men sat down to meals in a comfortable mess hall and ate out of dishes for the first time. During the ensuing winter of 1934-’35 much attention in the company was centered on a basketball team, which won second place in the Wisconsin CCC Tournament.

          In February, 1936, Lieutenant Gruselle gained his Captain’s commission and was transferred, and Lieut. Peter P. Meshkoff, Inf.-Res., took command. In April 1936, he was followed by Capt. Albert C. Wolfe, Inf.-Res., who was transferred on July 22nd, and the present Company Commander, Capt. H. H. Long. Inf.-Res., assumed command.

          On March 31, 1937, Project Superintendent Ferris K. Green, who had been with the company since its arrival at Camp Brink, was replaced by Mr. Joseph W. Landino.

          The past thirty-one months at Camp Pigeon has resulted in more than sixty miles of trails, one ranger station built, 1,568 acres planted with trees, 1,944 acres of timber stand improvement completed, two fire towers constructed, 249 miles of lineal survey run, twelve miles of telephone lines constructed, and ribies eradicated to the extent of 2,430 acres, besides considerable work in lake surveying and planting fish.

          The men of the 640th Company played a major role in a serious fire season of 1936. Pigeon men were the first to report at the big Brule fire which started July 31. In the Barnes fire they again fought effectively on August 7th and 8th and were largely instrumental in checking the rapid advance of flames until reserves came to their aid.

          The company played an active part in flood relief in the spring of 1937. A total of eight trucks and twenty-two men, including eighteen drivers and three cooks, joined the flood relief work on January 28th and returned February 10th. Drivers Ellsworth Hinz and George Gagner received “Superior” ratings for their work on flood duty.

          The present staff of Company 640 follows: Captain Long, Commanding; Lieutenant DeVore, Junior Officer; Hugh Enochs, Educational Adviser, J.W. Landino, Project Superintendent; and Merrill Thornber, Everett Stitz, Leonard Larson, Val Hanson, Peter Mogenson, Chris Melland and Harold Mallmberg, Technicians.

----- Submitted by Curator

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LINKS

Company Roster, 1937, CCC Co. 640, Camp F-42, Drummond, Wisconsin, Sparta District, 6th Corps Area

 

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