The Stone County Historical Society will be celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps and Camp Hedges #743 Saturday, August 3, 2013, announced event coordinator Robbie Purdom.
Beginning at 10 am at the Stone County Museum located at 206 School Avenue in Mountain View, AR, there will be a slide show presentation on the history of the CCC highlighting Camp Hedges from 1933-1942. This will be followed by recognition of former CCC workers, including Paul Miller who inspired this project, F.O. Brannon, Silas Balentine, and descendants of others who participated in the CCC program. They are invited to share their stories.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was a New Deal Program initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt within 35 days of his inauguration in 1933. It was designed to give employment to young, unmarried men between the ages of 18-25 in forest and park conservation projects and give help to farms damaged by soil erosion. Camps were established across the nation with the Army in charge. It not only provided jobs for a hungry nation, but set the nation on a sound conservation program for our farms and timbered resources and increased recreational opportunities. The program ended in 1942 shortly after the United States entered the war in Europe.
Camp Hedges at Gunner Pool in Stone County was one those camps. This camp served approximately 2200 men during its nine years of operation. These “boys” as they were called laid the foundation for today’s many parks, including Blanchard Springs Recreation Area, by building the roads, bridges and dams as well as the trails, shelters and campgrounds.
At 1:30 those unfamiliar with the steep, narrow road that leads into Camp Hedges are invited to meet at Cody’s Restaurant in Fifty Six, AR to join the caravan down the gravel road to Gunner Pool.
From 2:00 – 4:00 there will be a guided walking tour of the former Camp Hedges led by two former residents, Fred Ward and Don Thomas. Both spent their formative years living in what was the barracks of Camp Hedges. They are sons of the men who supervised the area after Camp Hedges closed, Carl Ward as a forester and Dexter Thomas as the Refuge Keeper,
Purdom suggests that lawn chairs and bug spray may be needed for the afternoon event.
The book “Camp Hedges #743 and the CCC” written by Robbie Purdom and recently released by the Stone County Historical Society will be available for purchase at the event. The $20 will benefit The Society. For more information, contact 870-269-8446.