We chose to designate ourselves with the number “4” to honor the legacy of the United States Civilian Conservation Corps (“CCC”) in East Tennessee.
The CCC was a federal agency created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (“FDR”) during the Great Depression. Prior to his election to the presidency, FDR served as president of the Greater New York Councils of the Boy Scouts of America. In creating the CCC, he said that he “took a leaf out of the notebook of Scouting” and “model[ed] it to a large extent after Scouting.”
During its nine years of operation (1933-42), the CCC enrolled approximately three million otherwise unemployed young men. These “CCC boys” planted nearly three billion trees on land made barren from fires, natural erosion, or lumbering—in fact, the CCC was responsible for over half the reforestation, public and private, done in the nation’s history. Corpsmen also constructed more than 800 parks, built over 30,000 wildlife shelters, stocked rivers and lakes with nearly a billion fish, restored historic battlefields, and cleared beaches and campgrounds. The CCC built or improved much of the infrastructure that continues to support our public lands and waters today.
More than 70,000 Tennesseans served in the CCC. In Tennessee, CCC enrollees completed work in 17 state parks as well as in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In the Smokies alone, as many as 4,000 enrollees were assigned to 22 CCC camps at various times from 1933-1942, building roads, hiking trails, fire towers, campgrounds, and picnic areas.
Illustrating the importance of its work, the National Park Service referred to the CCC as “that magnificent Army of Youth and Peace that put into action the Awakening of the People to the facts of Conservation and Recreation.”
The CCC organized its work by numbered regions, called corps areas, with enrollees organized into numbered units, called companies, of about 200 men each. Each company’s numerical designation reflected its corps area of origin. Because the CCC’s Fourth Corps Area included Tennessee, all companies organized within Tennessee included the number “4” in their designations.
FDR considered his CCC to be “a pretty fine tribute to what Scouting has done throughout the country.” By numbering our unit to honor the CCC boys from our region, we hope to pay a reciprocal tribute to what the CCC did in East Tennessee and throughout the country.
Visit CCC Legacy to learn more about the heritage of the CCC.