Biography of Harold Sandberg

CCCMan, Company 1302, Camp Navy-1, Ostrich Bay, Bremerton WA & Company 2911, North Bend, Washington

My Times in the CCC

   It all began on Monday, June 24, 1935, at the old Times Building at 5th and Stewart Street in downtown Seattle, Washington. I can't remember the exact amount, but 20 or 25 of us recruits were there.

   We were introduced to a Lieutenant Voss, and a Dr. Parrott to begin our induction. It took several hours to complete this process. The first person with whom I became acquainted was Henry Chistensen. He had his mom and dad with him. They came from Foster, south of Seattle. We became buddies during my stay in the CCC's.

   With the initial process completed, we were told to board the army trucks and we were taken to the waterfront to board the ferry "Kalakala" for Bremerton, Washington. After landing we were taken to the camp at Ostrich Bay where Company 1302 was stationed at that time.

   This was a Navy base and the camp was designated "Navy-1". The upper and lower bunks in the barracks were made of wood. I happened to be assigned to a lower bunk. We were assembled after the bunk assignments and given an introduction to the camp and "invited" to the mess hall for lunch. After lunch we were told we would be quarantined to camp for "K.P." and medical shots and vaccinations against certain diseases.

    During our confinement in camp I met Bill Ellington and Winston Mock. They were both truck drivers. We were notified we would be moving the following week to a new camp located at North Bend, Washington. We went aboard the ferry to the Coleman Dock in Seattle. Then down the waterfront to East Marginal Way to Renton Junction, over the hill to High Point to the old saw mill. Then to the town of Preston, crossing over the Raging River to Fall City then we crossed over the clear Snoqualamie River, up the curving hill to the famous falls, through town - seeing Mt. Si --- before going through North Bend and 3 ½ miles out the entrance to the camp. As we went down the winding drive to the camp I could see the foothills and the mountains surrounding the camp. It was a beautiful setting to see - the new buildings among the forested area with the soothing sound of the running water in South Fork of the Snoqualamie River. This was our NEW HOME.

    We unloaded from the trucks that had brought us this long journey to stretch our legs. We walked around the camp to view the buildings. Headquarters, the Army Staff, a supply room and dispensary. Also the Forestry building, mess hall, barracks, and PX with a gameroom. With the aroma of evergreens and the river near - this was the new home for Company 2911.

    After our tour, going around the buildings and play grounds, we assembled to meet the camp officers and our camps sergeant, Hanson. He told us, after our lunch break, we would be assigned to the various barracks and to pick up our bedding as well as dress and work clothing. I think our first meal consisted of beef stew and sweet rolls.

    I was first asigned to #4 Barracks where I stayed for about 3 weeks. Then I was re-assigned to #1 barracks because this was the equipment operator's barracks which included truck drivers, cat "skinners", the machinist, blacksmith, saw filers and other tool sharpeners and other operators. The next morning after being re-assigned, Sgt. Hanson came through the barracks at 5:30 a.m. blowing his shrilly whistle saying, "Lets Get Going." We assembled outside for roll call, stood at attention for the raising of the flag and then into the mess hall for breakfast. After that we made up our beds, cleaned up our area and placed our shoes on the rack at the foot of our new beds (with springs and mattresses) to keep it neat and clean. We also had a chest like closet to store our extra clothing.

    Each day there was an inspection of the barracks and the one person whose area was the cleanest and neatest received a reward to spend at the PX. We then were called outside to meet the foreman and get our work assignments. I volunteered to join Mr. Lund's crew of 10. He took us into the Forestry Building for orientation on the art of building a fire trail. He told us the type of tools we would be using, such as an axe, mattock, rake and shovel.

    After the orientation we boarded the forestry truck which took us east up old highway #10 to the Camp Joy slash burn which was about 10 miles from North Bend. We staked out our trail, 3 feet by 10 feet, cleared it of all burnable material by getting down to "clean" dirt. It was hard work, we perspired. We had to work with our shirts off because it was such a hot day up there on the mountains. We had out mess kits and at noon the lunch truck arrived with a hot dish, sandwiches, cool aid, coffee, and ice cream bars. Mr. Lund inspected the trail when we finished about 3:30 that afternoon and told us we had done a good job for beginners. The next day Mr. Lund had a surprise for us. That was to make the trail 5 feet wide and 500 feet long. This would be the assignment for the day. If we encountered a stump or a big log we were to go around it because we had to show "clean" earth all the way on the trail. This day was a little cooler so we didn't perspire as we did the day before. By lunch time we could see progress and we took a 40 minute break. We completed the fire trail and Mr. Lund commended the crew.

    Later, in the fall, the fire trail we had constructed was a blessing because we had to fight a fire near that fire trail and it kept the fire from spreading before we had it contained. We really learned a lot from this experience as we were called to fight another fire across Highway 10 at the base of Granite Mountain. It took 3 days to contain this fire.

    Our main work area was just before making the climb after crossing Denny Creek. This is the beginning of the South Fork of the Snoqualamie River as it is where Humpback Creek and Denny Creek meet to form the South Fork. This area is known today as the Ashal Curtis area.

    I was transferred to Ernie Raine's crew. He was the lumberjack foreman of tree fallers and bucking crew. I was to cut logs into 8 foot lengths. My first time for learning the art of under cutting. It was hard work pushing a buck saw all day. It wears you down - especially the under cutting where some of the positions you had to work at are not comfortable, to say the least.

    Across South Fork was a parking area for hikers, fisherman, bird lovers, photographers, and people picnicking. The Forest Service had us build a Register Shed. It was for everybody using the area and trails to lakes and Granite Mountain. Some of these hikes would take 8 to 12 hours and in places the trails were steep and sloppy. Along the trails, occasionally you would see a bear, a deer, porcupine or a beaver. The birds were the Woodpecker, Bluejay, Mountain Robins, Hawk, Yellow Finch, Cat Bird and Wren. Once I even saw a Grouse.

    Our source of good drinking water was the Humpback Creek. Our job was to clear cut this area so it would become camping and picnic sites. We were also able to supply the camp with fire wood from the trees we had to cut. We had two drag saws and it kept the crew busy cutting and storing the wood before the snow and freeze came. During this project we drained some beaver ponds and the fish disappeared to the South Fork. We were served both hot and cold meals at lunch time in the woods. There was lots of food to eat and we had to work off those extra calories.

    One day, at work days ending, I was carrying the buck saw, ax, wedges and oil slicker back to the tooling truck. I walked down a log and as I jumped off I slipped. My ax fell off my shoulder, bounced and broke my nose. I reported to the camp doctor, who told me it would heal. I had two black eyes and a swollen nose for a month. I went to work the next day and the Foreman assigned me to the drag saw. This was an enjoyable job keeping the saw crew of four supplied with wood, for heating and cooking.

    When cutting old growth Douglas Fir and Cedar in the woods, the scent from these native trees was most enjoyable. Whole working so close to Highway 10 we had a job falling some of the trees. Our head lead faller was surveying each tree that was selected by the Forest Service. Then the Highway Department got into the act and told our people we were not to fall any trees. The state had tree fallers and they would do the job. This they proceeded doing, except that they caused an accident. Our lead faller had told us that if the state fallers kept cutting a 3 to 4 ft snag, that the approach they had taken would cause the tree to fall across the highway - which happened. And who do you think had to clean up the mess? Our drag saw crews, fallers and bucking crew. It took ou crews about 2 hours to get the log off the highway and the bulldozer crew to clean bark and pieces or blocks of wood out of the way to open the highway. We had cars and trucks running by for quite a while afterwards as the backup started to move.

    The winter work was done on the Middle Fork of the Snoqualamie River. It was working on a road to connect Miller Road with Taylor River. This job was a tough one because the rock formation along the route selected required rilling and blasting with dynamite. We worked with most of this crew. I was setting "choking cables" for the bulldozer. Also the bulldozer was used to push the small rock with its blade. There was snow on the ground and it was cold during the days in January and February. One day I was setting the choker to turn the cargo sled right side up which had been turned over the night before so it wouldn't have snow on the bed the next day. The bulldozer operator wasn't watching while I was setting the choker. He started up and my left foot got caught under the sled. There was a lot of snow - 6 to 12 feet fell the night before - and I was thankful for that snow although the shoe had to be cut off my foot. I was sent to Fort Lewis for X rays and one of the doctors mentioned amputation. I didn't like that idea. My foot was bandaged and I went back to camp where I started soaking my foot for 2 hours after every meal. This went on for two weeks before the swelling went down. I was on crutches for 3 weeks and then had to walk with a cane until I could stand and walk. This took another couple of weeks. I still feel a stiffness occasionally.

    George Washington, our 1st President's Birthday, February 22nd, was on Sunday. This was a holiday weekend and most of our group had gone to their homes. I and approximately 50 others were left in camp for this weekend. KP and other duties were required. We received an urgent call about an avalanche that had covered highway 10 near the summit. About 30 of us boarded trucks and headed out to rescue those that had gotten caught in the ice and snow. We heard that two trucks were covered for one and a half hours before the first truck was located. The second was located a short time later. Neither driver lived. The Fox Movietone News came and took news real pictures of us working to find these missing drivers. This made me feed bad to have had to witness this accident.

    During my stay at Camp North Bend we celebrated all holidays with turkey dinners. Thanksgiving, Xmas and New Years Eve also included a dance. Also we had dances every Saturday night - usually ending with fisticuffs afterwards.

    This ends my wonderful times and learning experiences in the CCC. We need this type of program now for current generations to come and build a better America. Its time for our officials, along with big business and corporations, to join together to make the future better for all of us as we enter the 21st century.

----- Harold Sandberg


BACK TO James F. Justin Civilian Conservation Corps Museum Biographies


Also Be Sure to Visit

James F. Justin, Civilian Conservation Corps Museum

Justin Museum of Military History

James F. Justin Museum

Please Share your Stories! E-mail the Curator to share or discuss or with any questions!

Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001 John Justin, All Rights Reserved 1