Search billions of records on

   Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
Collected and posted by RITA
This site is exclusively for the FREE access of individual researchers.
* No profit may be made by any person, business or organization through publication, reproduction, presentation or links to this site.

Oconto County, Wisconsin
Mountain Memories
Pages  - 90 & 91

Back to the Mountain Memories Main Page

Page 92 - 93 

Back to the Oconto County Home Page

.of a contingent of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
It was a warm sunny day when two hundred young men, dressed in wool Army O.D. 's of World War I vintage, stepped off the train to embark into new occupations in these cut-over lands.
They were a rather sad looking lot in their ill fitting, wrinkled, olive drab garb. A couple of Army Officers and a few non-coms formed the group into ranks and off they went up the gravel road. Without any prior military drill, theirs was a rather disorderly parade as they marched along, a cloud of dust hung over them as they trudged north to the area that is today the site of the extensive gravel pit north of the town.
A field kitchen had been set up by an advance unit, but there was little else. As the boys arrived Army personnel dispersed tents for each of the eight man units, each unit being responsible to clear their tent area. The area was marked, allowing so many feet for each tent and street space in front, and so the work of clearing the brush and trees growing up in these areas began. The tools available were axes, shovels, grub hoes, and picks. The area was for the most part covered with brush, a few poplar trees possibly four to five inches in diameter, a few old pine stumps, and numerous rocks.
We were maybe a dozen or so local boys who followed the CCC's up from town and we watched in amusement, and some contempt, as these 'city1 boys, young men some of whom had never even seen a double bit axe, chew away in frustrations as they sought to cut down a tree four inches in diameter !
After a series of ill armed whacks, which covered an area two feet up and down the tree, three or four of them then pushed mightily on the tree, finally breaking it so it toppled over.
Bill Wolff of Lakewood was one of the first company of CCC's. Bill stayed on when the CCC's came to an end, working for the U.S. Forestry until his retirement. Bill told me that the tent area he was assigned to encompassed a large pine stump, and with the inadequate tools so provided, they could not remove that stump! Their only solution was to put up the tent with the stump left in the middle, their eight cots simply set up in a circle around it.
This Camp at Crooked Lake typifies the 'homes' of the CCC boys who came to this area in the 1930's.
Bill Wolff recalled his days spent in camp, he also said they lived in those tents until the first until the first week of December ! The wood supply for their stoves was mostly cedar, a notorious wood for throwing sparks, which was the cause of several of these tents burning completely to the ground. The young men received $30 a month of which they were allowed $5, the rest to be sent home to their parents, many of the young men could not take this way of life which was harsher and more demanding than the life -style they had previously known and so after serving their six month term they departed.
The late 20's saw the last of the commercial logging in this area. The early 30's found the Town of Armstrong and surrounding Towns a wasteland. Fires every spring and early fall kept nature from replenishing the plundered lands, people finding it difficult to even find enough wood to fuel their stoves and heaters.
Try to imagine standing atop Hager Mountain on our County W East where there is a visibility of 10 miles and not see a tree over six inches in diameter. . . That is the way our entire countryside once looked.