CCC workers in '30s focus of Fort Vancouver exhibit

Some of the thousands who were trained in in area share their stories

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 

Did you know?

• More than 2.5 million Americans took part in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942.

• The Northwest CCC program operated 27 major camps and hundreds of temporary work stations in the Columbia River Gorge.

photoA Civilian Conservation Corps crew plants trees in the Yacolt Burn area in north Clark County in 1936.

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More than 40,000 men passed through Vancouver Barracks as members of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Some of their recently videotaped stories will be part of an exhibit on programs that put people to work during the Great Depression.

The exhibit opens Saturday, Jan. 19, with a free reception from noon to 3 p.m. at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site's visitor center, 1501 E. Evergreen Blvd., at the east end of Officers Row.

The CCC exhibit produced by local National Park Service staff will be paired with a traveling exhibit on the Works Progress Administration.

"Over 40,000 young men came to the Northwest's Ninth Corps Area from every state in the union," said Meagan Huff, museum technician at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. "They received their initial training at Vancouver Barracks, which served as the CCC headquarters" of the Ninth Corps Area.

The exhibit — "Strong Forests, Stronger Communities" — tells the story of the young men who came to the Northwest to find work.

"Those were the choices young men had to make as their families faced hard times," Huff said.

"But the CCC offered them more than just jobs — it offered them the chance to improve their lives through educational and recreational programs that restored in them a sense of belonging and community," Huff said.

The exhibit will include the stories of former CCC workers who were videotaped recently by the Confluence Project, a Vancouver-based nonprofit that celebrates Northwest heritage.

The other display — "Putting People to Work: The WPA in Washington, 1935 to 1943" — is a traveling exhibit created by the Washington State Historical Society.

The displays include historic photographs from the 1930s, CCC unit patches, archaeological artifacts and yearbooks.

There also will be interactive features for visitors of all ages.

The exhibits will be on display until late March. The visitor center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://www.twitter.com/col_history;tom.vogt@columbian.com.