“Celebrating Our Past, Creating Our Future.”

The Civilian Conservation CorpsForestry and Parks Centennial Patch
Part II: A Maryland Perspective

Emblem worn by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps crew members, 1933 With the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933, Maryland was fortunate to have 55,000 acres of state forest and park land and qualified to operate over 15 camps of 200 men each, enabling the State's Forest Service to greatly improve public forest lands, develop some of its recreational potential, and implement important conservation measures., which included extensive tree planting and improvements to infrastructure that directly enhanced the ability to spot and fight forest fires. The CCC put a total of 30,000 young unemployed men to work all over the state, but principally in Western Maryland. 

CCC crews reclaimed forests and other natural resources, fought forest fires, built recreational facilities and restored historic structures. They built lakes, cabins, pavilions, trails, campgrounds and other visitor amenities, which Fred W. Besley, Maryland's first State Forester (1906-1942) later indicated set Maryland’s forests and parks ahead by 25 years.

Over the nine years (1933 - 1942) the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) operated in Maryland , there was an average of twenty-one CCC Camps in the state and any given time, with 15 of these camps sponsored by the State Board of Forestry and located in State Forests and State Parks.

State Forest & Park CCC Camps in Maryland
Sponsored by the State Board of Forestry

CCC Camps Post Office Federal
SP 1 1353 Fort Frederick State Park Big Pool NPS
SP 2 336 & 356 Patapsco State Park Elkridge NPS
S 5 1363 Elk Neck State Forest North East USFS
S 51 304 Potomac State Forest Mtn. Lake Park USFS
S 52 326 New Germany/Savage River State Forest Grantsville USFS
S 53 324 Green Ridge State Forest Flintstone USFS
S 54 335 Cedarville State Forest Brandywine USFS
S 57 2302 Gambrill State Park/ Frederick Municipal Forest Frederick USFS
S 58 1359 Little Orleans/Green Ridge State Forest Paw Paw USFS
S 59 304 Swallow Falls State Forest Oakland USFS
S 60 1320 Bond/Savage River State Forest Lonaconing USFS
S 62 1318 Pocomoke State Forest Snow Hill USFS
S 68 5461 Meadow Mountain/Savage River State Forest Swanton USFS
S 65 2366 Backbone Mountain/Potomac State Forest Swanton USFS
S 67* 377 Piney Mountain/Swallow Falls State Forest Oakland USFS
  1. Under Federal Number, "SP" indicates a State Park project. "S" indicates a State Forest Project.
  2. *S 67 at Piney Mountain was developed, but never staffed.
  3.  NPS stands for National Park Service
  4. USFS stands for United States Forest Service
Project Number: The number given by the state to the project and camp
The number given by the federal government to each company.
Date: The date that company occupied that particular camp.
Post Office: The closest town to the camp that had a post office.

Life in a CCC Camp

Life in a CCC camp resembled the regimented life on a military base of the time. The physical camp was also laid out in military fashion and consisted of four 50 man barracks, a kitchen, mess hall, recreation hall, army reserve officers and statesmen quarters, as well as supply buildings, garages and storage areas. The buildings were of pine lumber covered with tar paper and wood strips. The buildings were constructed in four foot sections for easy relocation when the camp moved.

The standard wage was $30 a month with $25 of this wage going directly to the worker's families or parents. The work was hard and demanding and much of the legacy of that work is with us today.

Despite the rigors of their CCC days, most veterans of the "Tree Army" looked back on those days as a positive, character building time of their lives. One Western Maryland veteran said "...I firmly believe the CCC's were the second best experience of my life. My wife was the first."

Garrett County CCC Camps

Camp S 52: New Germany State Forest Recreation Area
in Savage River State Forest

New Germany State Park - Cabin 11, originally CCC Officer's Quarters 1939Before the 1929 acquisition of the Savage River State Forest by the Federal Utilization Land Program and the State Board of Forestry, New Germany was a milling center where a crudely-built lake had been developed by damming "Poplar Lick Run." The lake was called Swauger's Dam", a tribute to John and Charles Swauger who built the dam.

Both a saw mill and a grist mill were developed at New Germany that used water power from the lake.  Also, in winter, ice was cut from the lake, packed in saw dust, and stored in an ice house to be sold in the summer.  The mills and ice business were operated by the McAndrews family (two brothers and a sister), who also added to the site one of the original "Jot em Down" stores, where dry goods and fuel were sold.

Interior - CCC New Germany Rec Hall 1936The alpine valley where the milling village of New Germany was nestled was and still is delightfully picturesque.  It is both historic and beautifully natural, partly because of a unique stand of hemlock and white pine that is found near the lake.  Therefore it was an ideal location for one of the first CCC tent camps in June 1933.

CCC Camp S-52 crews built many of the park's recreation facilities, including cabins, campsites and trails. The CCC's maintenance of forest roads better protected the forest from wildfires and laid the foundation for future forest management practices to improve these public lands.

CCC Projects at at New Germany:

  • CCC Structures - - Many still in use today, included platforms for their tent camp, mess hall, six barracks, Recreation Hall (still in use) Officer's Quarters (still in use as a vacation cabin), Headquarters Building.
  • Swauger's Dam - - Removed existing dam and built a larger dam which increased the lake size to 13 acres.
  • Day-use recreation area - - around and near the lake to include:  bathhouse, boat-house, gazebo, two large pavilions, several single table picnic shelters, fire places and latrines.
  • Overnight facilities  - -  to include a tent camping area and ten housekeeping log cabins.
  • Ski trails and ski slopes  - -  became first ski resort area in Maryland
  • Support facilities  - - for the recreation area included roads, parking lots, water carrying sewage disposal system, and well and water storage reservoir.
  • Thousands of trees  - -  were planted in the state forest, and considerable timber-stand improvement was accomplished.  Many forest fires were brought under control.

New German CCC Camp  S-52, Headquarters & Barracks, 1936

The New Germany camp closed in 1938.  Personnel and equipment were moved to the Meadow Mountain CCC Camp, S 68.  Crews of CCC boys were still trucked to New Germany to complete recreation and forestry projects until the CCC camps closed in 1942.

Camp S 59: Swallow Falls & Herington Manor State Forest Recreation Areas in Swallow Falls State Forest (now known as Garrett State Forest)

CCC boys constructing earthern dam to form lake at Herrington Manor, 1934Improvements by the CCC to Swallow Falls State Forest and its two forest recreation areas, now known as Swallow Falls and Herrington manor State Parks, were accomplished by the 304th Company CCC located at Camp 59 at what is now the site of the Swallow Falls camping area entrance.

Swallow Falls State Forest was a 1,917 acre gift from brothers John and Robert Garrett in 1906 and was offered to the State of Maryland, providing the state would start a forestry service.  The area that is now Swallow Falls State Park, where the CCC camp was located, was part of a 600-acre tract known as "Falls of Muddy Creek," and it was adjacent to the Garrett gift. 

The Falls of Muddy Creek tract contained a magnificent, 40-acre stand of old growth hemlock and white pine that one if the site's earliest owners, Henry Krug, could not bring himself to cut.  The old growth trees were so old and so magnificent that lumberman and whiskey barrel maker Krug protected them.  At his death he willed the property to the Grand Lodge of Masons of Pennsylvania and West Virginia as a retreat center.

bathers in pool below Muddy Creek FallsThe majestic old growth forest, where some trees are now estimated to be more than 360 years old, is bordered by the cascading Youghiogheny River and Muddy Creek, where Maryland's highest waterfall drops 65 feet. The site is considered to be Maryland's best example of a primeval northern hemlock forest and one of the most beautiful and picturesque spots in the state.

In 1923, the State Board of Forestry and the Grand Lodge of Masons entered into an arrangement whereby the state would manage and protect the Falls of Muddy Creek property as an Auxiliary State Forest as had been done at other scenic forested area in the state. As a result of this joint land-use agreement, Maryland was able to locate a CCC camp on the property for the purpose of making improvements to both  Forest Recreation Areas and the Swallow Falls State Forest.

The other recreation area was located at Herrington Manor, just four miles to the south on a 656-acre tract donated in 1917 to the state by Henry and Julian Leroy White.  Swallow Falls State Forest lay in-between and adjoined the two recreation areas.

The CCC projects at Swallow Falls and Herrington Manor State Forest Recreation areas were similar to the New Germany projects except these larger in number and scale.

Civilian Convervation Corp worker on roof of cabin at Herrington Manor State Park - 1930'sCompany 304, Camp S-59 of "Roosevelt's Tree Army," assigned to Swallow Falls State Forest, was organized in Baltimore on April 7, 1933 with 100 men on the roles. The company was the fourth company to be organized in the United States. Company 304 was sent to Virginia, Deer Park and Camp Ritchie, Maryland before moving to Swallow Falls on May 14, 1934. By October of 1934, barracks to house the men were erected and the company moved in and stayed at Swallow Falls until May 20, 1940.

Herrington Manor State Park was the site of many Federal Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) work projects. Young men from throughout the State lived at a camp located nearby at present day Swallow Falls State Park. These CCC crews created Herrington Lake, planted trees and constructed ten log cabins and the beach Lake House.

The park's dominant feature is a manmade 53-acre lake, averaging a depth of eight feet. Fed by Herrington Creek, the lake was dammed in the early 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and is now open from dawn till dusk, seven days a week, for swimming, fishing and boating.

CCC Projects at Herrington Manor State Park

  • Earthen Dam and Lake -- Construction of the Herrington Manor Dam and Lake began on May 18, 1934. The dam was built of coursed stones brought to the site from the Swallow Falls area.
  • Cabins -- Cabins one through ten are in a 20th century historic district reflecting the mid 1930's CCC building style. The cabins are formed of rounded chestnut logs cut flat on their top and bottom surfaces and overlapping at the corners. The logs are placed against each other without any sort of chinking or daubing. There is no notching involved in the corner joints, which are secured with nails. The foundations consist of stone piers at the corners and at intervals along the walls. Including these historic cabins, a total of 20 logs cabins are available for year round vacation rental by reservation.
  • Lake Concession -- Formerly a stone bathhouse on the shore of Herrington Lake, the bathhouse was a three-bay structure built of coursed local stones. This building was renovated and added to in 1986. The original archways are now inside the present building.
  • Restroom at the beach -- This was once the CCC pump house. Now this building is a restroom facility.
  • Barracks-- Two barracks from Swallow Falls were disassembled in four foot sections and moved to Herrington Manor. These buildings are in use today as storage buildings and a lounge/display in the shop complex.

CCC Projects at Swallow Falls State Park

  • Pavilion-- The stone and frame pavilion is located across from the parking lot.
  • Camp office-- The camp office sits on its original site within Company 304's camp. This building was more likely one of the officer's headquarters. This structure's interior has been renovated but its exterior is the original chestnut.
  • Restroom-- A stone restroom is located on top of the hill above the parking lot. This building is closed to the public.
  • Dynamite Shed-- A small building located in the youth group campground, this shed was once used to store the camp's dynamite supply.


Camp S 60: Big Run State Forest Recreation Area in Savage River State Forest (known as the Bond CCC Camp)

Bond CCC Camp S-60, 1934 photo courtesy of Robert Gerfin The Bond CCC Camp in the Savage River State Forest was located north of the Big Run State Forest Recreation Area and the Savage Reservoir.

The CCC boys at the Bond Camp worked on the Big Run Recreation Area, which had a small day use area with a large log shelter and a cabin area with 13 rustic cabins with no running eater.  This area was designed for fishermen and youth groups,  The cabins were later taken down since the area could not be closed at night, due to a county road that passed through it.  The Bond CCC boys also worked extensively on state forest improvements and forest fire suppression.

Interior Bond Camp Headquarters - CCC Camp S-60They may have also constructed the Whiskey Hollow ski slope, which is a challenging serpentine path that propels skiers down from the top of Meadow Mountain. The CCC attempted to advance skiing by creating opportunities in Garret County, such as that at New Germany described above,  although the effort was ahead of its time.  Limited roads from big cities, unpredictable weather patterns, and a depressed economy had to be overcome before skiing would become a money-making venture in Western Maryland.

S 51 Potomac State Forest (known then as Camp Active)

The Potomac State Forest was started in 1932 with the purchase of lad by the Federal Land Utilization Program that was established to help struggling landowners whose farms and businesses were were not successful and in need of a fresh start.  The lands were turned over to a state or federal conservation agency which would reforest them.  Many of  these purchases were along waterways, with the plan to control soil erosion and improve water quality.

The Potomac River is quite alpine in appearance at the Potomac State Forest with white foamy cascades bordered by a mix of pine, hemlock, oak and maple forest.  It is strikingly beautiful in any season of the year.

The 304th Company CCC was established May 22, 1933.  The state forest was under the capable supervision of M. Carlton Lohr, the resident Forest Warden.  Carl, a native from a Garrett County farm family, was a planner and capable administrator who worked well with his US Army counterparts, and together they created a model State Forest Demonstration Area with a small primitive camping area and a day use area for picnicking. However, reforestation if the Potomac River watershed was the main objective. 

Potomac State Forest Entrance to Backbone Mountain CCC Camp S-65The one unique facility that the CCC boys constructed was a large log house to serve as the forest headquarters and the forest superintendent's home.  The house had a large wide front porch and was the site of many meetings of visiting groups who studied forestry practices.  Mrs. Ruth Lohr was the gracious hostess, who enjoyed providing refreshments to the many groups of frequent visitors.

First Lieutenant D.W. Santelle, 3rd Calvary, was company commander.  Mr. Lohr and Lt. Santelle both agreed when they said, "The men have worked well.  Brown backs and big appetites testify to that. The morale is excellent; the willingness of the men is very gratifying.  All of them seem to feel that the phrase 'the dignity of labor' has real meaning. And the results have been splendid."

As FDR said, "..every boy should have the opportunity to work for six months in the woods. This was the happiest of the New Deal Programs, for it simultaneously rehabilitated the land and the men."

The CCC Fish Rearing Ponds Trail in Potomac State Forest offers a short, easy hike through mixed hardwood forest. At the end, keen-eyed observers will notice the subtle remains of several former, now dry, fish rearing ponds built by Civilian Conservation Corps members in the 1930s.

Other Major CCC Camps in Maryland

CCC Camp SP-2 - Patapsco State ParkPatapsco State Park (now known as Patapsco Valley State Park) Conservation efforts began in the river valley in 1907 when the Patapsco State Forest Reserve was established. During the Depression years of the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) planted trees and built trails, picnic areas, campsites and handsome cut-stone pavilions to improve what had by then become "Patapsco State Park".

Company 356 of the Civilian Conservation Corps made its encampment near Lost Lake at Camp Tydings in the Avalon Area. The CCC built the stone picnic shelters in Orange Grove and Glen Artney (not visible from the river). The CCC was also responsible for planting trees in the river valley to advance the reforestation efforts and reclaim the over-used and abused land.

This Civilian Conservation Corps Camp (CCC) was operational between 1933 and 1942. Following the start of World War II, the CCC Camp was converted to the nation's first Conscientious Objector Camp.

Fort Frederick State Park

CCC Boys reconstructing stone wall at Fort Frederick, CCC Camp SP-1After the Civil War, various local patriotic organizations kept the 1756 stone fort's history alive, and in 1922 the State repurchased the crumbling walls and adjacent land to begin development of Maryland's first state park.

During the Great Depression, Company 1353 of the Civilian Conservation Corps was assigned to the park to reconstruct the stone walls, and perform archaeology work in order to locate the foundations of the original interior buildings. They also were tasked with developing the park land.

In 1934, Camp SP-1 started out as tent city just south of the fort, but soon grew into a u-shaped camp west of the fort. The camp included three barracks, shower houses, recreation hall, kitchen and mess hall, officers’ quarters, hospital, forester’s office and classroom as well as several sheds. At that time the CCC also constructed a park visitor center (now the CCC Museum), Superintendent’s House (now the Park Store), horse stables (now the park’s Nature Center), blacksmith shop and garage all in a colonial style. In addition to the work around the fort the CCC constructed a picnic area with public restrooms and a picnic pavilion that can still be used by visitors to this day. Members of Company 1353 also worked at Washington Monument State Park.

Washington Monument State Park

In 1920, the one acre site was purchased by the Washington County Historical Society, and in 1934 it was deeded to the State of Maryland for use as a State Park. The tower was rebuilt in its present form by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, who set in place the original cornerstone and a facsimile of the dedication tablet. Development of a 40-acre park was started. The size of the park has since increased to 108 acres.

The third dedication ceremony was held on July 4, 1936, exactly 109 years after that first day of patriotic activity by the citizens of Boonsboro, which produced the beginnings of the country's first monument to George Washington.

Cunningham Falls State Park

In 1936, the federal government created the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area by acquiring more than 10,000 acres to demonstrate the restoration of forest lands. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) built many facilities in the Demonstration Area, including cabins and shelters. 

Gambrill State Park

Most of the recreational facilities still in use at the park were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression of the 1930s, including three stone overlooks to take advantage of the views. The park's Tea Room, a stone lodge available for public use, is a particularly fine example of the type of recreational structures built by the CCC.

Cedarville State Forest

In the 1930s, the State began purchasing land in an effort to create a forest demonstration area. It was the CCC boys who developed Cedarville's roads and trails for fire protection and future recreation development. From 1933 to 1935, approximately 160 men of the CCC, mostly African Americans from Baltimore and Washington, D.C., worked at Cedarville. Five barracks, originally located across from the current forestry buildings, housed up to 50 men each.


The editor of this article gratefully acknowledges the following persons whose contributions made it possible to present this perspective of the CCC in Maryland. Where errors may occur, Maryland DNR will sincerely appreciate any corrections, clarification or additional comments from former CCC members and their families, or from historians who may have a more accurate factual record. 

  • Garrett County CCC Camps, courtesy of...
    Offutt Johnson... spent most of his 35-year career with the Department of Forest and Parks and the Dept. of Natural resources in Annapolis, Md. For 26 of those years he worked for Program Open Space.  His last ten years with DNR, Mr. Johnson was involved in nature and history projects, most notably at Patapsco Valley State Park where he directed the renovation of an old stone iron workers' house into the Park's first history center for visitors. He and his wife Joan moved to Oakland after his retirement. He continues to volunteer by working on a history of Maryland's state forests and parks.
  • Life in a CCC Camp and additional information regarding CCC work at Swallow Falls and Herrington Manor, courtesy of ...
    Caroline Blizzard... served as a Park Naturalist at Herrington Manor State Park and is currently Director of the Discovery Center at Deep Creek Lake State Park.  She has been with DNR for 16 years.

Photographs (top to bottom):

  • Emblem worn by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) crews in Maryland (1933), courtesy of Greg Bartles
  • New Germany State Park - Cabin 11, originally CCC Officer's Quarters 1939
  • Interior - CCC New Germany Rec Hall 1936
  • New German CCC Camp S-52, Headquarters & Barracks, 1936
  • CCC boys constructing earthern dam to form lake at Herrington Manor, 1934
  • Bathers in pool below Muddy Creek Falls
  • Civilian Convervation Corp worker on roof of cabin at Herrington Manor State Park - 1930's
  • Bond CCC Camp S-60, 1934 photo courtesy of Robert Gerfin
  • Interior Bond Camp Headquarters - CCC Camp S-60, Photo by Fred W. Besley
  • Potomac State Forest Entrance to Backbone Mountain CCC Camp S-65
  • CCC Camp SP-2 - Patapsco State Park
  • CCC Boys reconstructing stone wall at Fort Frederick, CCC Camp SP-1