Home » Blog » Smoky Mountains » How the Civilian Conservation Corps Built the Smoky Mountains We Know Today
civilian conservation corps

How the Civilian Conservation Corps Built the Smoky Mountains We Know Today

Have you always wondered how the roads and other sections of the Smoky Mountains were built? The answer is the Civilian Conservation Corps! This program was established by Franklin D. Roosevelt during The Great Depression to create jobs for people. The Great Smoky Mountains was one of the most impacted places by this organization. Learn more about how the Civilian Conservation Corps built the Smoky Mountains we know today:

Start of the CCC

chimney in the smoky mountains

The United States was in the middle of The Great Depression in 1933. Newly elected president Roosevelt knew citizens needed help, so The New Deal programs were started. One of them was the Civilian Conservation Corps, its purpose giving jobs to young men who were out of work after World War I, as well as conserving natural resources in the country. It operated from 1933 to 1942.

Requirements and Perks

The Civilian Conservation Corps wasn’t something you could just sign up for. There were several requirements these men had to meet in order to be considered. At the start, it was for men who were 18 to 28, single, unable to find employment for two months, and demonstrated their families couldn’t provide training or education comparable to the Corps. These men made about $30 a month, and they signed up to work for at least six months.

Not only did the CCC provide a job, it also provided food, clothing, and shelter. In addition to these things, they also received education, vocational training, and health care. Men were split into different camps all over the state to work on various projects.

CCC and the Smoky Mountains

newfound gapWhat exactly did the CCC do for the Smoky Mountains? The organization performed conservation activities such as reforestation, road construction, and agricultural management. The Smokies were known for logging, and the damage that was done from that was reversed by this organization. There were about 22 camps just in the Great Smoky Mountains alone, which means about 4,000 men worked in the area.

They worked on the national park all the way up to World War II. The camps were abandoned because the nation’s money was being used to fund the war, so they left to go fight. Most of the CCC camps were ghost towns, and there are remains still left today. Some of the remains include a chimney, a drinking fountain, a fire hydrant, and a sign board.

Work that Still Stands Today

arch rock stairs

One of the camps worked on Newfound Gap Road that we drive today. The footbridges along the trail were built by these workers, as well as the water system that is still in Newfound Gap.

Fire roads and towers were built to prevent wildfires from destroying the national park. One of the ones built by the CCC was White Rock Tower. This tower is accessible by hiking to Mt. Cammerer tower on Low Gap Trailhead.

The four arch Elkmont Bridge is another structure this organization built you can see to this day. It shows their craftsmanship and amazing skill.

Many of the hiking trails people enjoy today were established by the CCC. Some of them include Alum Cave Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and Bull Head Trail. Solid rock was carved out to make the paths, and they also incorporated parts of the landscape.

Now you know a little more about how the CCC built the Smoky Mountains we know today! Want to know more about the national park before you visit? Learn about the Great Smoky Mountains now!