By: Megan Spencer, Jackson Schneider, and Dante Sudilovsky
Bear Brook State Park, located in the heart of New Hampshire, is home to one of the only Civilian Conservation Corps camps left standing in the US. Also known as the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps was created by President Franklin Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression’s effect on the American economy.
The Great Depression sent millions of Americans into poverty; making them unable to afford to feed themselves and their families. At the same time, many of the countries’ roads, bridges, and natural areas were in disrepair. This inspired President Roosevelt to create government programs that would help Americans get back on their feet. One of these programs was the CCC.
Created in 1933, the CCC employed American men, ages 18-29, to help rebuild America’s natural environments. They would receive $30 per month with $25 of that sent back to their families. While rebuilding America’s natural spaces, they also gained skills for future employment, took classes, and received housing, food, and medical care.
The CCC at Bear Brook helped construct many of the park’s famous landmarks. Walking around Bear Brook State Park today, you can see many remnants of the CCC’s hard work. They built popular areas like the Bear Hill Pond camp, where you can now rent newly restored cabins, the bathhouse at Catamount Pond, and Broken Boulder Trail. They even built Spruce Pond Camp, which the Student Conservation Association now calls home.
You can learn more about the CCC at Bear Brook by visiting the CCC Museum located at the Depot off of Deerfield Road in Allenstown, New Hampshire. You can see a treasure trove of artifacts once used by members of the 1123rd company and similar CCC camps around New Hampshire. These artifacts include the tools they used for their jobs on the trail, an original CCC cot, the chests the men brought to camp to carry all their possessions, and even an original mess hall set and Thanksgiving Day menu. The CCC camp at Bear Brook State Park is one of the few relatively intact camps in the entire nation.
With so many Americans in need of help, the Civilian Conservation Corps gave jobs, food, education, and purpose to millions of American men. So next time you take a walk down Broken Boulder Trail, or go swimming in Catamount Pond, take a second to think about all the hard work and service that it took to build these things that we appreciate today.