Camp at Mandan
Mandan, North Dakota
Following is an article from the Bismarck (North Dakota) Tribune some one had sent to me. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the sender did not include the date of the paper. I should have at least noted when I received it, which I believe was about 1988, give or take a couple of years.
Alumni keep memory of CCC alive
by JANELL COLE, Tribune Staff Writer
Over the years, thousands of people have seen a large stone chimney standing alone at the Mandan ballpark. But how many know how it got there and what it was for?
After today, Merlin Dahl of Mandan hopes more people will know. He and about 500 Civilian Conservation Crops alumni who are in Bismarck for their annual state reunion will hold a dedication ceremony for a plaque that will go on the chimney. It will show that the chimney is a remnant of a CCC camp in south Mandan that hosed hundreds of workers in the 1930s while they were building Fort Lincoln State Park.
The chimney is all that remains of a large recreation hall. In their off hours, CCCers played cards, billiards and table tennis or bought snacks at the canteen in the building. Just outside was a baseball field right where one of Mandan¹s softball diamonds is today. In its heyday, the camp also had a cluster of large barracks. Those were gradually torn down, the last one having been used for many years as the rodeo grounds¹ ticket office, Dahl said.
The North Dakota CCCers¹ efforts to rescue the Mandan camp from oblivion is part of a nationwide effort to mark and memorialize forgotten CCC sites. Some 33,000 North Dakota men served in the CCC, sometimes known as ³Roosevelt¹s Tree Army.² The Depression-era program provided jobs to 3 million unemployed young men around the country between 1933 and 1942. In those nine years, the 3 million men built 46,845 bridges, 800 state parks, 4,622 fish-rearing ponds, installed 5,000 miles of water supply lines, improved 3,462 beaches, moved and planted 45 million trees and shrubs and planted 3 billion other trees.
But the legacy is fading as the CCCers pass away and unmarked works fade into the background.As the National Association of CCC Alumni put it in a recent letter, ³We know the names of the national parks, national forests, city, county and state parks that were built by the CCC. Now we need to find out [about] ... CCC projects that were built on private land, roads, trails, bridges, soil erosion programs and locations of camps.² The ultimate goal is to get many CCC sites nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mandan camp was unique, Dahl said, because it was made up entirely of World War I veterans. That¹s why the company¹s designation was V-2775. There were usually about 250 men in a company. Dahl was not in Co. V-2775. He says that since most World War I veterans have died, there probably aren¹t any left that were in the Mandan company. Dahl was in the CCC camp that built Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge near Jamestown and later worked as a civilian employee of the CCC, maintaining utilities for the camps. But he had an abiding interest in keeping the memory of the CCC alive. He even maintains a little CCC museum in Solen built from the remnants of a CCC barracks that stood at the ³other² Fort Lincoln, south of Bismarck.
Photo caption (I don't have the photo, sorry): Merlin Dahl with the old chimney and the plaque he made. The plaque shows that was placed by the North Dakota chapter of the National Association of CCC Alumni and that the chimney was part of Co. V-2775¹s camp.
Ausley Clarence Horton, CCCman, Company V-2775, Camp Mandan, North Dakota
Emanuel Anton Wetzstein, CCCman, Company 2775 V, Mandan, North Dakota
BACK TO JAMES F. JUSTIN CCC MUSEUM, UNIT ROSTER AND HISTORY COLLECTION
Please Share your Stories! E-mail the Curator to share or discuss or with any questions!