ACADIA NAT’L PARK—Learning new skills and working their way out of the Great Depression, thousands of young men lived and worked in Acadia National Park between the years of 1933 and 1942 as members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
The CCC was a national program that put young men to work during the Great Depression. It was an important part of the New Deal enacted by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.
Over the years, the men rehabilitated old trails and built new ones. They protected the health of the forest, fighting insect infestations and fungal disease. They built fire roads, fish hatcheries, dams, culverts and picnic areas.
“The CCC style really defined Acadia,” said Gail Gladstone, cultural resources program manager for the park. Gladstone describes the CCC style as rustic, pointing to the example of a picnic shelter at Pretty Marsh, a half-log timber frame construction with a stonework foundation.
According to a 2009 report by James Moreira and team, there were three year-round CCC camps in Acadia. One was at McFarland Hill in Bar Harbor where Park Headquarters is located, one at the south end of Long Pond in Southwest Harbor and one in Ellsworth. Each of these main camps had a capacity of housing 200 men. Starting in 1936, there was also a side camp at Schoodic Point that housed 50 men.
The men in the Acadian camps were aged 18 to 24, according to the online resource “Maine: an Enclyclopedia.” They were from Maine and had been previously unemployed, this being the height of the Great Depression. The men had signed up for the CCC at a recruiting office in Bangor and were now working in exchange for $30 per month, plus room and board. Participants served a minimum of six months and up to two years.
Summer work was trail maintenance and building; winter work was forestry projects. Protecting the health of the forest was a major project for the CCC nationally. In Maine, crews curtailed infestations of gypsy moth, brown-tail moth and spruce saw fly, and fought a fungal disease called white pine blister rust.
Men in the CCC worked under the supervision of the park landscape architect, Benjamin Breeze. The Ocean Path, from Sand Beach to Otter Point, predates the CCC, Gladstone said, but they thoroughly rehabilitated the trail.
CCC crews built the Long Pond Trail and the Perpendicular Trail up Western Mountain, with its impressive stone staircase. The Perpendicular Trail was designed by a young landscape designer named Robert Patterson, Gladstone said. After working for the CCC, Patterson went on to be an architect and designed many homes on MDI.
Fire roads were also built throughout the park to give access to the interior wilderness for the purposes of firefighting, Gladstone said. The Man of War Brook Road and the Long Pond Road, both on the western side of the island, are the result of CCC labor.
The camps in Acadia ended operation in 1942, which coincided with the end of the New Deal.