The CCC Camp Restoration Project
FRIENDS OF SOUTH CUMBERLAND SEEK INFORMATION, ARTIFACTS AND VOLUNTEERS TO HELP RESTORE AND TELL THE STORY OF THE HISTORIC CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS CAMP IN GRUNDY FOREST
South Cumberland State Park and the Friends of South Cumberland are looking for volunteers who would like to help reconstruct and restore an important part of local history. Thanks to the financial support of the South Cumberland Community Fund and other generous donors, SCSP Rangers and Friends Volunteers are working on the first phase of an ambitious plan to re-create portions of the village that housed nearly 200 members of Civilian Conservation Corps Company 1475 at Grundy Forest, near Tracy City.
In the 1930s, the Federal Government created the CCC program to provide paying jobs for able-bodied young men needing work during the Great Depression. CCC Company 1475 called this workers’ village home. The camp included a number of buildings which housed, fed, hospitalized and stored equipment and supplies for the workers of Company 1475 from the mid-1930s until the start of World War II. Around 1938, Company 1475 also set up a satellite camp at what is now Franklin State Forest, near Jumpoff Road, south of Sewanee.
The young men of Company 1475 undertook many projects which improved the lives of people in this area. One CCC legacy is the chain of Grundy Lakes, now used for swimming, paddling, and fishing. CCC personnel built some of the first hiking trails in what would later become South Cumberland State Park. They also erected fire towers, built roads, strung some of the first telephone lines in this area, and fought forest fires. They were also instrumental in helping contain a 1935 fire in downtown Tracy City — one of the biggest fires in Grundy County history.
The Friends of South Cumberland are interested in talking to area residents who may have worked at the camp, or had a family member who did so, who would allow the Friends to photograph or scan any historical items they may have, such as old photos, maps, letters or stories that will help shed light on daily life in the camp during its 1935-1942 existence at Grundy Forest. Please email us at FriendsOfSouthCumberland@gmail.com if you have items we might photograph or scan. (If you are in the local area (Grundy, Marion, Franklin counties), we can come to you, and photograph your items while you wait; your materials will always remain in your possession!)
The site of Company 1475’s camp is located on what, until recently, was the “CCC Campground” in the Grundy Forest area of South Cumberland State Park. Phase One of the project will identify, clear, and begin to conserve some of the aging camp infrastructure — building foundations, cisterns, paths. A parallel project will be to construct a new SCSP camping area, near Hanes Hole Falls, also in Grundy Forest, to replace the now-closed “CCC Campground”.
At the CCC site, eventual plans call for the construction of one or more "shadow structures", similar to those erected by the National Park Service at Blue Heron, Kentucky, to help visitors understand the scope and purpose of the buildings in the Grundy Forest CCC camp. Which specific building foundations will be chosen for shadow structure construction and interpretation will depend on the condition of the foundations and the extent to which accurate historical information can be obtained about the camp layout and the purpose of specific buildings. Therefore, historical research will also be an ongoing part of this project.
On-site at the CCC camp, a number of volunteer work-days are planned. These work-days will initially involve site clearing and interpretive trail construction. All ages, abilities, and levels of experience are welcome. If you are interested in participating, please volunteer online at our Volunteer Opportunities page.
Make plans now to take part in preserving this unique and important element of our area’s history!
MEDIA COVERAGE RELATED TO THE CCC PROJECT:
Do you have a piece of CCC history?
As part of the Civilian Conservation Corps camp restoration project, SCSP and the Friends would like to hear from anyone who worked at the Grundy Forest CCC Camp in the 1930s, or had a family member who had done so. If you or your family have photos, drawings, notes or other artifacts relating to the CCC Camp, the Friends would appreciate an opportunity to examine and create digital copies of them as part of the historical research that will guide the Camp’s restoration, and later, help tell the story of the Camp to park visitors. If you have historical items you’d like to share, please email the Friends. The digital copying process is quick, and will not harm any of the artifacts. Any items submitted will be promptly returned.