Joining the Civilian Conservation Corps

Among President Franklin Roosevelt's many "Alphabet Soup" New Deal programs, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was perhaps the most successful in reducing unemployment among America's youth. The highly regimented program brought benefit not only to young men seeking a steady, albeit meager, income in return for their labor but also to the many areas to which the CCC enlistees were dispatched.

Many communities in Arizona gained new infrastructure and other improvements at the hands of CCC workers, including Phoenix's own Papago Park. Imagine for a moment an out-of-state recruit's likely reaction to the park's striking rock formations and prickly indigenous flora. What must have been running through the mind of a young program participant who, until being shipped out with his CCC company, had likely never traveled far beyond his hometown? How might a CCC enrollee react to the quasi-military structure of the organization and the reality of being assigned physically arduous tasks to be carried out alongside a group of complete strangers in a seemingly inhospitable land?

edited 12/23/2019:wt


A Worker's Story "A CCC Worker's Story" is a fictional account of oneindividual's decision to enlist in the program. It was written using a compilation of numerous CCC veteran accounts of their experiences as its basis. Written by John Larsen Southard; narrated by Roger Brevoort. Recorded at Scottsdale Channel 11; courtesy of the Papago Salado Association. Creator: John Larsen Southard Date: 2012


Enrollee Frank Papuga Wearing the Corps' Uniform<br />
Enrollee Frank Papuga Wearing the Corps' Uniform
The CCC operated in a military-like manner. The organizational structure and management style applied to details as seemingly inconsequential as enlistee uniforms, which closely resembled those worn by the armed forces. Source: Library of Congress Date: 1939
Paving the Grand Canal
Paving the Grand Canal Members of the CCC pave the Grand Canal, near 83rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road in Glendale. Source: Historic American Engineering Record, Library of Congress. Date: 1938
Troops on Parade
Troops on Parade While the work was strenuous and the pay minimal, those who enrolled in the CCC enjoyed the possibility of travel to faraway, sometimes exotic destinations. In addition to settings such as Arizona's Papago Park, the CCC sent enlistees to Hilo, Hawaii, where they are seen parading in this 1934 image. Source: Historic American Engineering Record, Library of Congress Date: 1934



John Larsen Southard, “Joining the Civilian Conservation Corps,” Salt River Stories, accessed June 24, 2024,