October 23, 2017
The University of Montana Western’s Environmental Sciences department held their annual “Birch Creek Civilian Conservation Corps Camp: A Living History” on Oct. 15, 2017 at the Birch Creek Center.
This event featured students from Montana Western’s Environmental Interpretation course recreating a working Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp based on those that operated from 1933-1942 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The Birch Creek Center is one of the best preserved CCC camps in the nation, and served as an authentic environment for the students to present their research.
The students in the course heavily researched and prepared for the event, and recreated the roles and shared the history of several positions in the camp at the time.
Their roles included the CCC working “boys,” the camp military officer and surgeon, and the local unemployed men who were referred to as “lems” who served as local guides to teach the boys how to work in the field performing tasks including building roads and bridges, telephone lines, constructing masonry work, and planting trees.
Generally, women were not present at the CCC camps, so the female students in the course shared their reasons for visiting the camp for the day, including the delivery of supplies.