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History - CCC

In the 1930’s two CCC camps were located at Clifftop, Camp Beaver (1522 SP-3) and Camp Lee (532 SP-6).  Clifftop, an old mining town, bordered the park.  The park entrance was just two miles down the road from Clifftop and work crews traveled back and forth to the park in trucks.  The original camp buildings are gone today, but Babcock’s Campground is located at the former site of Camp Lee.  Each camp had its own infirmary, kitchen, barracks, ambulances, trucks, and so forth.  Camp Lee and Camp Beaver each had four or five barracks with about 50 boys in each.  The army was in charge of housing, feeding, and clothing.  There was one head cook that was paid $45/month.  The head cook then trained others as dishwashers and assistant cooks.  Standard pay for the rest of the workers started at $30/month (the standard CCC rate), went to $36 and finally $45 (the top CCC rate).  The camp was run just like an army camp.  The boys got up in the morning and had reveille, stood while they raised the flag, and marched to the mess hall where they had breakfast.  Then they were taken to the park and were turned over to the technical service under the direction of Jim Baldwin, Sr.  In the evenings you had retreat, lowering of the flag, and everybody was turned back over to the army.  A lot of times in the winter it was too cold to work with temperatures of 10-15 degrees below.  If they didn’t come to the park to work, they would still have to get up and march in the mornings.  There was an educational advisor and the boys were given various kinds of education and training, most of it vocational.  They turned out to be good stonemasons, good carpenters, and draftsmen or engineers.  Once a week the boys would be loaded up in two or three of the camp trucks and taken to the movies.  In those days the shows only cost $0.25.  The Technical Service, which supervised the work at Babcock, had its own office with engineers, draftsmen and architects.  The architects were paid $188/month and received free housing.  They did have to pay about $30/month for meals.

All plans for the administration building, cabins, and other work were drawn up by park staff at the park and approved by the Department of the Interior.  The camps at Babcock, Watoga, Cacapon, Lost River, and Oglebay were operated by the Civilian Commission of West Virginia in cooperation with the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior.  Other help included a skilled stonemason foreman who supervised the park’s stone quarry and work on the administration building.  He, like four or five other stonemasons hired at the time, was an Italian from Fayetteville.  The CCC also built a dam in front of the administration building which created a public swimming pool.  Modern health requirements later demanded a new park pool.  The CCC built 13 log cabins and 13 “board-and-batt” cabins.  Ten of the log cabins were built from old chestnut trees that died during the chestnut blight.  The park was opened on July 1, 1937, and the original rental fee for a cabin was $14 a week.

Babcock was just one example of the CCC’s role in development of our state parks.  One source reports that in January 1939 the total number of state parks using work relief funds and men (nationally) was 1,397, covering 4,342,863 acres and serving 75 million visitors.

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