CCC camp erected outside Spring Valley

By : 
MARY JO DATHE
GLIMPSES OF YESTERYEAR

An article appeared in the supplement to the Rochester Post Bulletin regarding the CCC Camp in June 2006, apparently to honor the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Located a mile east of town during the 1930s, it was just north of the wastewater treatment plant and east of Gordon Kaster's home.  The camp was Co. 706 and at times had up to 200 men residing there.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the corps on March 31,1933, during the desperate days of the Great Depression.  Single, unemployed males, ages 18 to 25, could enlist in the CCC and earn $30 a month.  Each member was allowed to keep $5 for personal spending money, while $25 was automatically sent home to their parents who were greatly in need of money to feed the rest of the family.  D.R. Patterson was captain of Spring Valley camp #706, and many of the more than 100 men were not from the area.  Some bridge construction was done at Masonic Park, but the main focus of the Spring Valley camp was soil conservation projects for local farmers.

In Fillmore County CCC camps were erected in Chatfield, Lanesboro, and in 1934 word was received that a camp would be assigned to Spring Valley.  The front page of the Oct. 11 Tribune carried the heading "Locate Headquarters for Soil Erosion Project Here."  The article reported that the control service for Bear Creek and Deer Creek watersheds would be centered here.  Necessary quarters were needed for an office and housing of equipment -- a Spring Valley hospital at 500 North Section had been recently closed and that house would be used for an office.  A warehouse of the Spring Valley Bottling Works and Ole Frankson's garage would be used for storing equipment.  By 1935 the extensive camp seen in the accompanying photo had been constructed.  

The camps were established in military style with the men first constructing the camp while living in tents, then beginning the program assigned in that area.  A new baseball diamond would be formed for summer recreation for the guys.  The ball field at the Spring Valley camp was in the northeast corner. In the winter months, boxing was a popular sport with matches held in local communities drawing large crowds.  Saturday nights found the CCC guys going into the towns close by and relaxing after a week of hard physical labor.  Each camp had its own police officer and paddy wagon, so most local communities did not experience problems from the camp.

George Maxon, a young single man from St. Peter, Minnesota, who had been assigned to the local CCC camp as the supply sergeant, married a Spring Valley girl in 1937, and after completing CCC work, remained to make this community his home.

Many young men from the Spring Valley area enlisted in the CCC but most were not assigned to their home camp.  Some remained in Fillmore County, but they could be sent anywhere in the country for work projects.  Most of the work around Spring Valley was in dealing with soil conservation projects.  When the designated projects were completed, local farmers could sign up for more soil conservation work to be done on their land. 

By April of 1937, the Tribune reported that the CC camp (as referred to by local residents) would be moved to Lanesboro and that camp would be disbanded to make room for the SV camp.  Because of the lay of the land, more projects were completed in that region of the county, several being visible today. The dismantling of a camp, even the size of the Spring Valley camp, took but a day or two.  The boards of the buildings were taken apart and piled on trucks for transporting to the next site, where barracks would be again erected.

Readers are reminded that the Methodist Church Museum and Washburn-Zittleman Historic Home are open daily from May 26 to weekends in October, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  See you there! 

 

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