Green River and Farson were the sites of depression-era CCC camps
Photo #1 - The gate to Camp Green River, constructed in 1938 (Sweetwater County Historical Museum photo)
Photo #2 - Barracks at Camp Green River (Photo courtesy of Jo Poris)
Photo #3 - CCC workers at Camp Green River. Among their projects was construction of the Blue Rim Road, the White Mountain Road, and an ice-skating rink east of the camp. (Photo courtesy of Jo Poris)
Photo #4 - Location of Camp Green River, superimposed over a modern map (Sweetwater County Historical Museum)
Photo #5 - Unidentified young woman at the CCC camp near Farson (Photo courtesy of Jo Poris)
Photo #6 - CCC camp built about a mile north of Farson, built in 1937 (Photo courtesy of Jo Poris
(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - March 4, 2022)
In 2019, the Sweetwater County Historical Museum circulated an article about Camp Green River, a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Green River. In response to several research inquiries and a special presentation prepared for the Daughters of the American Revolution, (Wyoming Chapter), the Museum is circulating an expanded version, which includes information and photographs of the two CCC camps built near Farson.
For four years, from 1938 to 1942, Green River was home to Camp Green River, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, one of thousands like it throughout the United States, the Sweetwater County Historical Museum said in a special release on Friday. By 1933, the Great Depression was responsible for a 25% unemployment rate nationwide; some 15 million Americans were out of work.
Just days after being sworn in as President in March, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt called the 73rd Congress into emergency session and proposed what came to be known as the Civilian Conservation Corps, an unprecedented voluntary public work relief and natural resources conservation program that would employ unmarried, single young men between 18-25 years of age (later 17-28) in projects related to the development and conservation of natural resources all over the United States.
Roosevelt set his workforce goal for the CCC at a quarter of a million men. Congress passed the legislation swiftly, and the President signed it into law on March 31. Men flocked to enlist, and by April 7, the first recruits had been signed up.
Young men enlisted in the CCC for a six-month period. Re-enlistment for up to two years was an option. CCC workers were paid $30 per month, $25 of which was sent home to their families. Their food, clothing, housing, and medical care were all provided by the federal government.
CCC workers lived in what would eventually total well over 2,600 camps nationwide. They performed some 300 types of work projects that fell within 10 general classifications, including flood control through drainage, dams, ditching, and channel work, erosion control, building and improving roads, trails, and airport landing fields, campground construction and improvement, forest culture (planting trees, improving timber stands, collecting seeds, and performing nursery work), forest protection in the form of fire prevention and firefighting, stream improvement and fish stocking, and insect control.
There were dozens of CCC camps and operations scattered across Wyoming. (Ultimately, some 36,000 men would be employed in the state, and 12,000 of these were Wyomingites.)
As documented in the archives of the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River, Camp Green River was authorized on April 1, 1938; site preparation and construction began the same month. By July, the camp was ready and the first workers began arriving, mostly from the Chicago area.
The camp was located not far from the north bank of the Green River, generally northeast of Expedition Island. Its capacity was about 190. There were four barracks buildings, officers' buildings, bath and toilet houses, a kitchen and mess hall, a chapel, a clubhouse, and a medical and dental building.
Among the projects completed by the CCC workers of Camp Green River was construction of a 300-feet-long ice skating rink east of the camp (a cooperative effort with the City of Green River, which provided a grader), building a wooden bridge across the Black's Fork on the Paravacini Ranch, construction of several reservoirs, construction of the Blue Rim Road and White Mountain Road, road improvements south of Rock Springs and Green River, and fighting range fires.
There were also two CCC camps in the Farson area; one about a mile north of Farson and another, constructed later, at the current site of the Big Sandy Irrigation Dam, also north of Farson. The men at the camp nearer Farson were engaged in agricultural work; the others assisted in construction of the dam. When Rock Springs suffered a severe flood in 1937, about a hundred men from the first Farson camp were brought to Rock Springs to work in sandbagging and other flood mitigation and were credited with averting even worse damage than had already taken place.
America entered World War II in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, and the CCC was officially disbanded in June, 1942. Over the nine years of its existence, 3 million young Americans served with the CCC. To list only a few of their accomplishments: 84 million acres of farmland received manmade drainage systems, 97,000 miles of fire roads were built, nearly 3,500 fire towers were erected, well over 7 million man-days were expended on protecting wildlife habitat, and 3 billion trees were planted.
Today nothing remains of Camp Green River and the Farson camps, but their legacy - and that of the CCC - will be with us for a very long time.