1930s – The CCC in Utah

In Short

During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) brought thousands of young men from across the country to work in Utah. This New Deal program gave young men jobs building useful conservation, recreation, and other public works projects across the state. Roads, dams, campgrounds, and hundreds of other things that the CCC built in the 1930s are still being used today across Utah. There may be a CCC project near where you live!

More of the Story

The Great Depression was a global economic crisis that began in 1929 and continued until World War II. Banks failed and millions of Americans lost their jobs and their savings. A major drought at the same time hurt the nation’s farmers and led to food shortages. Families struggled with poverty, hunger, and hardship that dragged on for more than ten years. 

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created many New Deal programs to help the economy. One of these was the CCC. The idea was to put young men to work doing construction, conservation, and forestry jobs. These jobs would help local communities by building needed public works while also building job skills for the young men. The CCC paid wages, and the young men sent some of the money they made home to help their families, while keeping some that they could spend in local communities to help the local economy.

Big Cities and Small Towns

CCC camps were run like a military base, with barracks or tents for sleeping, cafeterias, and a detailed schedule for work, learning, and play. The men worked 40 hours per week, with a half hour lunch break each day. Outside work hours they took classes to build their job skills, played sports, and visited nearby towns to shop and have fun.

Many of the young men who joined the CCC and came to work in Utah were from poor neighborhoods in big East Coast cities, like New York and New Jersey. They were surprised and amazed by Utah’s wide open spaces, beautiful landscapes, and small rural towns. A few of the young men who came to Utah with the CCC decided to stay. After they completed their work assignments, they married Utah women and raised families in towns such as Monticello.

Utah’s CCC Projects

CCC projects in Utah helped local communities by building roads, irrigation systems, dams, bridges, flood and erosion control, and other types of forestry and conservation projects. The CCC also built things that local communities could use for outdoor recreation, such as parks, trails, and pavilions. 

The CCC closed in 1942, after the United States entered World War II. The young men who had worked for the CCC were now needed to go fight in the war. And the buildup of war industries created millions of new jobs for Americans, finally ending the Great Depression.