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  • Writer's pictureMelody Lager


During the years when recovery from the Great Depression was part of Franklin

Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Civil Conservations Corps was a popular work relief

program. Designed for unmarried young men, ages 18-25 (later expanded 17-28), it

gave young men the opportunity for a job that helped the conservation and development of

natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state, and local governments.

In 1935, Civil Conservation Corp (CCC) Camp No. 3726 was opened in Clarion to serve the Wright County area. Proposed to be a portable summer camp, it initially was devoted to clearing out and reconditioning approximately 1,000 miles of drainage ditches. The camp was located north of the high school (current middle school). When the camp first started, three buildings were erected (mess hall/kitchen, lavatory/bath, and latrine) and men stayed in tents. Starting with 117 enrollees and considered full at 216, the canvas tents gave way in August, 1935 to insulated wood barracks so work could be year-round. While working on drainage ditches in the summer, the cold winter months found the enrollees building shelters and feeding wild life and clearing snow off blocked roads.

Lyle Nelson of Roseburg, Oregon (originally from Glidden, IA) wrote his memories of the camp for the Historical Society in 2001. Following are excerpts from his letter.

“Eight big army tents were set up, with 20 or so cots in each tent. A big hole was dug with a canvas wall put around it for the latrine and showers. Eight barracks, latrine, mess hall, officer quarters, engineer quarters, hospital and headquarters buildings were built. Enrollees were paid $30 a month, $25 of which went home to our parents. I was surprised to find that 40 or so of the enrollees had not finished high school.”

The camps were set up and overseen by military, and followed military rules, meals and offered classes to the young men to further their education. Passes to enjoy the night life in surrounding towns were given out, and they also participated in sports. By 1942 the Clarion camp was done, and buildings were sold off in September, 1943.

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