Another Day Another Dollar: The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Catskills by Diane Galusha


The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Catskills

by Diane Galusha
foreword by Bill McKibben

Celebrating the New Deal That Transformed the Catskills
The 75th Anniversary of the CCC, 1933–2008

Galusha’s book serves as a vivid reminder of what we owe to the people who crafted and implemented this far-reaching New Deal program aimed at reversing decades of environmental abuse. It also offers a glimpse of how, with the same sort of vision, cooperation, hard work and political will we might tackle the earth-altering changes that darken our very doorstep. Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature.

Another day, another dollar; a million days, I’ll be a millionaire. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program to help young, unemployed men during the Great Depression by hiring them to work in a mammoth forest army, completed thousands of vital conservation projects nationwide. They were paid just $30 a month—a dollar a day.

In the Catskills, at CCC camps in Boiceville (Ulster County), Tannersville (Greene County), Breakabeen (Schoharie County), Davenport, Margaretville and Masonville (Delaware County), and McClure (Broome County, just over the Delaware County line), city boys and their country cousins, under the tutelage of local woodsmen and mechanics, wielded axes, mattocks and shovels to transform the Catskills in subtle and significant ways, planting millions of trees (more than 3 ˝ million in Delaware County in 1934 alone), fighting stream and soil erosion, and building roads, fire towers, hiking trails, ski trails, and the campsites at North Lake, Woodland Valley, Devil’s Tombstone and Beaverkill.

The CCC boys also fought forest fires and helped flood victims, thereby endearing themselves to local residents of the small rural hamlets near their camps that were understandably wary at first at suddenly finding hundreds of young out-of-town men on their doorstep. What also eased their concerns, however, was the just as sudden influx of cash. In addition to paying each enrollee a dollar a day, the CCC was also a major employer of local loggers, carpenters, blacksmiths, tractor drivers, mechanics and other tradesmen.

The camps also needed supplies, and lots of it. One CCC camp’s newspaper listed what its 200 enrollees had consumed in one week: 1 ton of vegetables, 700 pounds of bread, 150 pounds of oatmeal, 600 boxes of dry cereal, 1,800 eggs, 1,375 bottles of milk, 6 bushels of apples, 97 gallons of canned fruit, 32 large cans of jam, 661 pounds of meat, 1 ˝ gallons of ketchup 130 pounds of coffee and cocoa, 300 pounds of flour, and 6 gallons of pickles. Most of those provisions were purchased locally.

The majority of the CCC camps in the Catskills lasted just two or three years. One lasted for almost seven years, another just six months. But their lasting impact on the Catskills has been profound. One hundred years after the leather-tanning barons had consumed the Catskill forests, the last CCC worker packed his bags and headed off to war or to new employment opportunities, having helped to return the mountains to their natural state. Evidence of their efforts is all around us. As Galusha writes in her introduction to Another Day, Another Dollar:

If you have enjoyed hiking the Kelly Hollow trail through fragrant stands of giant red pine, the view from the Mt. Utsayantha fire tower, an afternoon at the beach at North Lake, dreaming into a campfire at Woodland Valley, Beaverkill or Devil’s Tombstone campsites, angling for trout in the Schoharie Creek or finding shelter from the rain in the Fox Hollow lean-to, then you have the CCC boys to thank for it.

This is their story: who they were, where they came from, what they did, and the legacy they left behind.

About the Author
Diane Galusha has written several books of local and regional history, including Liquid Assets, The Story of New York City’s Water System, Through a Woman’s Eye: Pioneering Photographers of Rural Upstate, When Cauliflower was King, and As the River Runs, A History of Halcottsville, N.Y. The founding president of the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown, Galusha is also deeply involved in promoting the legacy of John Burroughs through preservation of Woodchuck Lodge, the literary naturalist’s Roxbury summer home. She is a former journalist and newspaper editor, currently employed at the Catskill Watershed Corporation in Margaretville. She has been a grateful resident of the Catskills since 1982.

ISBN: 978-1-883789-61-9
$16.95 paper, 6” x 9”, 224 pages, 100 illustrations

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