History of 642nd Civilian Conservation Corps Company

 

CCC Company 642, F-3, Fifield, Wisconsin

 

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

 

History:

          May 14, 1933, near the point where State Highway 70 crosses Riley Creek, fifteen miles east of Fifield, Wisconsin, a group of brown, circular tents sprang up over night in the young aspen forest like mushrooms. Camp Riley Creek was born at a picturesque spot in the heart of the Cheuwamegan Forest, with Captain Orsinger,  Regular Army, as the Commanding Officer. This officer at present is in charge of the University of Wisconsin R.O.T.C., with the rank of Major.

          Here in this comparative wilderness of brush, burned-over land, and second-growth trees, traversed by a few roads and inhabited by a few scattered settlers, there was plenty of work to be done. During the three years that Riley Creek has been a camp five thousand acres of barren land has been planted with young trees, twenty-five miles of streams have been improved and stocked with fish, fifty miles of road have been built for the use of fire fighters, two thousand acres of timber stand improvement, and one thousand five hundred acres of plantation release have been accomplished. Five tourist camps were built in 1935, and one picnic ground established. The forest is being reconditioned. Somehow, during the process, most of the boys who have passed through the camp became re-conditioned.

          Since Captain Orsinger, the first company commander, headed the camp, there have been Captain Betts, Lieutenant Newton, Capt. O.B. Sykes, and the present Commander, Capt. O.M. Jonas. Three Camp Superintendents have had charge of the work program: Mr. Frank Murray, Mr. W. Wilson, and Mr. C.M. Evenson. Mr. F.M. Shipp is the present Educational Adviser.

          On July 1, 1935, Camp Riley Creek divided, to form Camp Sailor Lake, which camp selected a beauty spot of the North Woods for a location. January 15, 1935, Camp Sailor Lake was abandoned and many of the old crew returned to Riley Creek. Many pleasant memories are associated with this camp by the older members of Riley Creek.

          The winter of 1936 saw a heroic rescue of a snowbound family by the enrollees of the camp. The company Commander, Captain Jonas, and the Superintendent, Mr. Evenson, led fifteen enrollees through waist-deep snow in twenty below zero weather for five miles to bring out on stretchers a man, child and two women. This family had tried to reach their summer cottage six miles from the highway, became exhausted and were discovered half frozen lying in the snow. The four lived through the experience, and stop at the camp to give their thanks on every return to the “Woods”.

          Camp Riley Creek has been a District of Inspection Area Headquarters for nine to twelve camps since the CCC began. This camp was known as the Headquarters for the Twelfth Forestry District during the commandeering of Major Rodriguez, Major Arnaman, and Captain Fake. Major E.L. Werkmeister saw the change from the old Forestry District Division to the Inspection Area. Capt. M.H. Henry was the second inspector and the officer at present acting as Area Inspector.

          Riley Creek has been the home, school and workshop for hundreds of boys, many of whom growled and grumbled while in camp, but left with lumps in their throats. Behind them they leave green forests, newly planted trees, improved lakes and streams, culturally treated tracts of timber, tourist camps, roads and fire lanes, where before were black burns, brown barrens, and a forest largely undeveloped.

----- Submitted by Curator

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LINKS

Company History, 1937, CCC Co. 642, Camp F-3, Fifield, Wisconsin, Sparta District, 6th Corps Area

 

Back to Sparta Civilian Conservation Corps District, Sixth Corps Area, 1937 Annual Collection

 

The Krenn Papers, personal history of a Co. 642 member posted by kin of another, Mr. Jaccard, Back Space to Return

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