Work is under way to make CCC Camp visitor-friendly

What remains of the New Liberty CCC camp can be found deep in the Mark Twain National Forest just south of Winona in Oregon County. 

When I first visited the area, my only intention was to locate Falling Spring and Falling Spring Mill. 

However, the yucca plants and stonework caught my eye as I was driving and I had to stop to investigate. 

Through my research, I learned that this area was neglected due to budget cuts, which would explain why on my first visit much of the New Liberty site was overgrown.

However, work has recently begun at the New Liberty CCC camp to make the site more accessible for visitors. The plan includes clearing brush, cleaning and reestablishing existing trails, and replacing signs. Those steps will make the site even more enjoyable. 

The Civilian Conservation Corps was created during the Great Depression to provide jobs for men aged 17 to 25. Men were paid $30 a month, with $25 of the pay sent directly to their family.

An added benefit to the CCC program was that it led to the reforesting of public lands, building roads, trails, bridges, and buildings in public lands all across America. 

The main job for CCC members at the New Liberty camp was adding creosote to railroad ties, fence posts, and telephone poles. 

However, they also worked on a variety of other forestry-related projects that included planting pine trees, educating the public about forest fires, building fences around game refuges, and more. 

One local paper reported that by the time New Liberty camp was slated to close in 1941, it was responsible for building 60 miles of roads and running 40 miles of telephone lines, as well as constructing two picnic grounds. 

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The young men at the New Liberty camp were also provided with educational opportunities. At one point, Winona High School offered the men an “intensive” sixteen-week Vocational Agriculture course. 

The truck for school left the camp on Monday nights at 6:30 p.m. Students sat through double-sessions of classes with a small break between them. They were returned to the camp once class ended. 

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