The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

The Civilian Conservation Corps

Forrest Lancaster Tells of Experience of Camp Life
in Medford, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon,
    Monday, July 31.
Dear Mr. McIlwain:
    I received a letter from home today and they told me that you wanted me to write you a letter containing the different incidents of our trip and camp life out here.
    We left Sullivan on the afternoon of June 2nd and arrived at Jefferson Barracks about seven that night. The following day we were sworn in the C.C.C.'s and got our first typhoid shots and smallpox vaccination. We stayed there until Thursday evening, June 22nd. On that evening we left for Wineglass Camp, Medford, Oregon, which is just three miles from Crater Lake, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
    It took us three days and three nights to make the trip. We were all on Pullman cars and didn't have to change trains at all. Each day the train would stop and we would all get off and take a fifteen- or twenty-minute hike. We went through the Royal Gorge in Colorado and saw the highest swinging bridge in the States. It is a mile high. It was raining when we passed through there, but nevertheless the train stopped and we all got out and took a good look at the bridge. We could see cars crossing it.
    We also passed along the edge of the Great Salt Lake which was a very interesting sight. Everything was white. It looked like a desert of salt, the only thing I didn't like about it was the odor, which isn't very pleasant around that district. After passing here we got into the higher mountains, where we passed through many tunnels, some of which were a mile or two long. When we were in the desert states we also saw many jackrabbits, They were the first live ones I had ever seen.
    We arrived in Chiloquin, Oregon, late on the evening of June 25. From there we had about a forty-mile ride in a truck to our camp, and it wasn't very warm that night either. Upon arrival at camp we were received with a hearty welcome and a hot cup of coffee which warmed us up some. It was after midnight that night before any of us saw a bed. The next morning we were all up and ready for chow as we call it, or in civilized language, breakfast. I don't mean that we are not civilized out here, but some of the terms we we use are not all civilized.
    I am fairly well satisfied out here, although like most young people on their first stay from home of any length at all, I get a little lonesome once in a while.
    Our work is not hard. The hardest thing is getting used to this light climate. The rangers say we will not get used to it in six months either. My first day on the mountains made me fairly tired, but every day got easier and now I can stand it fine. My first job was what they call bugging. There is a kind of bug that kills the trees, and our job was to go out to the timber with saws and axes and cut the trees which had these bugs on them. They are under the bark and we had to cut the trees and bark them. The way we tell one of these trees is by their needles. The ones with bugs have red needles and the ones without have green ones. We finished that job last Friday and we are now building new roads up Mt. Scott and up along the main highway to Crater Lake. We only work eight hours a day including noon hour, and from the time we leave camp to work and back, which leaves us only about six hours actual work.
    We have plenty of time for recreation. We have baseball games, boxing and are talking of having some basketball and football. What time we aren't playing we are either reading, doing our own washing or playing cards. We also have some lectures on the origin of Crater Lake, and once in a while a religious talk or sermon. Just today we had a good educational lecture on the origin of Crater Lake.
    We sleep eight in a tent, and Loren Davis and I are in the same tent. We are both satisfied with the rest of our tentmates, which are Moultrie County boys, namely Joe Fuller of Gays, Paul Dixon, Theodore Rhodes and Woodrow Williams of Sullivan and Roy Coy and Earl Dinger of Lovington. We are all supposed to be in bed at ten and asleep, but not many of us obey that order. Many of us are up yet at twelve but nevertheless we do our work well enough to satisfy our Captain, Mr. Cox.
    Well, that is about all I know to write about, only there are plenty of wild animals around here, bears, deers, a few wildcats and cougar. But there is one thing I can frankly say and that is that the trip out here and the sights we see are worth more than we can earn in a year much less months, but that is not saying I would be willing to give back the money I will make during this six months.
Very Truly Yours,
    "Frosty" Lancaster.
My address is:
    Forrest Lancaster
        Co. 1658 C.C.C.
            Wineglass Camp
                Medford, Oregon.
The Bethany Echo, Bethany, Illinois, August 11, 1933, page 1

Eugene C.C.C. Headquarters Will Be Discontinued Between May 1-15
    EUGENE, Ore., April 6.--(Special)--The Vancouver Barracks and Medford District C.C.C. headquarters will take over the camps of the Eugene district about May 1, according to word received here.
    The Eugene headquarters is to be discontinued along with three California districts. The reason for the move, according to Major General Malin Craig, commander of the ninth corps area, is to reduce the headquarters personnel on the coast to permit the opening up of new summer district in Idaho, Wyoming and other high-altitude states.
    Brigadier General James K. Parsons, commander of Vancouver Barracks, visited in Eugene this week. He informed Casper B. Rucker, Eugene district commander, that the Vancouver headquarters will be ready to take over their allotment of camps from this district May 1. It is probable the camps going to the Medford district will be turned over at the same time.
    Definite orders for closing the Eugene headquarters have not been received, but the offices here will probably be closed between May 1 and 15.
    Fourteen camps will be maintained in the Eugene district during the summer, eight of them to be administered out of Medford and six out of Vancouver Barracks.
    The Medford group will include Melrose, Bradford, Tyee, Devils Flat, China Flats (Powers), Tiller, McKinley and Steamboat. None of these will be new camps, as Tiller, China Flats and Steamboat were occupied last summer, where the rest are now occupied.
    The Vancouver Barracks group will include Rigdon, Odell Lake, Wendling, Welker, Belknap and Mapleton. Odell Lake will be the only new camp in this group, Rigdon having been occupied as a summer camp last year and the others being already in operation.
    Six companies of men will leave this district soon for the seventh corps area in the Middle West where they will spend the summer. The first special train will leave April 21 carrying the companies from Coquille, Remote and Tyee camps to Sturgis, S.D.
    The second train will leave April 24 carrying the Wendling company to Cimarron, Kan., and the Belknap and Powers companies to Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
    Following is a list of the camps now occupied in the Eugene district, with notes as to the disposition of companies at present occupying them:
    Wendling: Company 729 to leave for Cimarron, Kan. Camp to remain and be occupied by Company 963 now at Cape Creek.
    Belknap: Company 730 to leave for Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Camp to remain and be occupied by Company 927 now at Reedsport.
    Coquille: Company 756 to leave for Sturgis, S.D. Camp site to be abandoned for summer.
    Remote: Company 757 to leave for Sturgis, S.D. Camp site to be abandoned for summer.
    Tyee: Company 758 to leave for Sturgis, S.D. Camp site to be occupied by new company not yet specified.
    Melrose: Company 759 to remain at Melrose and camp to be continued during summer.
    Reedsport: Company 927 to move to Belknap camp and Reedsport camp site to be abandoned for summer.
    Oakridge: Company 943 probably to occupy summer camp at Rigdon as well as Oakridge camp.
    Cape Creek: Company 963 to move to Wendling camp. Cape Creek to be abandoned for summer.
    Fall Creek: Company 965 to occupy Odell Lake camp. Call Creek to be abandoned for summer.
    Bradford: Company 979 to remain at Bradford camp and to be continued.
    Gunter: Company 980 to move to Boise, Idaho district. Gunter camp to be abandoned for summer.
    Walker: Company 981 to remain at Walker and camp to be continued.
    Sitkum: Company 1309 to move to new camp in Eastern Oregon. Camp to be abandoned for summer.
    Brice Creek: Company 1648 to move to Prineville. Camp to be abandoned for summer.
    McKinley: Company 1649 to remain at McKinley and camp to be continued.
    Powers: Company 1727 to be sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Camp site at China Flats to be occupied by new company not yet specified.
    Wolf Creek: Company 1921 to be sent to Sacramento, Cal., district. New site at Steamboat to be occupied by new company.
    Mapleton: Company 1748 to remain at Mapleton and camp to be continued.
Coos Bay Times, April 6, 1934, page 1

CCC Camps to Have Religious Services
    MEDFORD, Aug. 6.--The spiritual as well as physical welfare of the CCC men occupies an important part of the Medford district program, and through the cooperation of the civilian clergymen, regular services are provided in all camps.
    Civilian clergymen in all denominations have cooperated wholeheartedly in providing services for the camps, according to Major Clare H. Armstrong, district commander. These services augment those conducted by the three army chaplains who visit the camps on regular schedule.
    Following is a list of the camps in Siskiyou County. the clergymen who will conduct services in August and the dates on which the services will be held:
    HILT: Rev. R. T. Holmes, Ashland, Aug. 9; Rev. C. E. Dunham, Ashland, Aug. 22.
    OAK KNOLL: Rev. Paul Babcock, Montague, Calif., Aug. 14 and 28.
    INDIAN CREEK: Rev. David Forbes, Camp Indian Creek, Aug. 14 and 28.
Siskiyou News, Yreka, California, August 6, 1934, page 1

    Major Clare H. Armstrong, commander, Medford District CCC, has issued orders removing Camp Wineglass in Crater Lake National Park to a new camp at Oregon Caves. The new camp, which will also have the Crater Lake National Park administration as its technical agency, will be known as Camp Oregon Caves, NM-1, mail address Kerby, Oregon, and will be occupied on Monday, Oct. 22, on which date Camp Wineglass will be evacuated.
    Camp Wineglass has been the home during the last six months of the 1634th Company CCC, made up chiefly of Illinois men, but there are several Klamath Falls men in its ranks including N. A. Eberman, cook, Carlyle Killitz, truck master, and John Pisan, sanitation orderly.
    The camp has used Klamath Falls as its railhead during the summer, and the commanding officer has requested the Herald-News to convey to the business people of Klamath Falls the sincere appreciation of the officers and members of his command for the splendid cooperation and many courtesies which have been shown Camp Wineglass in Klamath Falls.
    Residents of Klamath Falls who are in the vicinity of the Oregon Caves are cordially invited to visit this new camp and renew acquaintances. It is hoped that the 1634th company will return to Camp Wineglass next April in the event that the CCC is continued.
Evening Herald, Klamath Falls, October 18, 1934, page 6

Nevada to Get Two CCC Camps
    Advance detachments from two CCC camps now in the Medford district leave for Nevada Saturday to establish camp sites in Washoe County of that state for the coming companies, the 994th company, Camp Hilt, and the 1897th company, Camp Spring Flat, will be transferred back into the Redding district as soon as the movement of the entire companies into the two Nevada camps has been completed, according to Major Joseph Andrews, Redding district commander.
    Twenty-five men and one officer from each of the companies will meet at Alturas Saturday morning at 10 a.m, being transferred to Nevada from that point by a truck caravan sent out by the Redding district motor pool.
    The 994th company will be located at Board Corrals, while the 1907th company is going to Swinford Springs. Both camp sites are located northeast of Cedarville, Calif., and are near the Nevada border. These two companies were members of the original Redding district, having been transferred to the Medford district last year.

Chico Enterprise, Chico, California, April 27, 1935, page 6

    Present Diplomas--Major George R. Owens, Medford District CCC, commander, and Capt. William C. Ryan, welfare officer, presented diplomas today to 50 graduates of the CCC school for cooks and bakers at Camp Wimer. The graduates, completing a six weeks' course, now return to their respective camps. Another term of the school will start next week. Medford district claims credit for having inaugurated such schools in the CCC.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, September 26, 1935, page 7

CCC Workers Are Being Fingerprinted
    MEDFORD, Ore., Oct. 4.--(American Wire)--Fingerprinting of CCC members in the Medford district is not for the purpose of checking criminal records, the Medford District News, official CCC newspaper, had assured the tree troupers today.
    "The purpose of the fingerprints is to provide a permanent and undeniable identification of each member enrolled in the CCC," the paper declared, advising that "fingerprinting can work two ways--it can be used against a man committing a crime, or it can be used to help prove the innocence of one not guilty."
    Many of the CCC men "are wondering what it's all about," the paper said in a prelude to the explanation.
The Seattle Star, October 4, 1935, page 4

    Orvil Tilley, Company 2702 CCC, Ruch, Oregon, writes: "We arrived in Medford, Oregon, about daybreak one morning last week. Most of us are satisfied in this new country. We don't have to work hard only in time of fire. We have plenty to eat so we have no reason for complaint. We have been told that after the fire season is over we are going to Missouri."
Greenville Sun, Greenville, Missouri, April 30, 1936, page 4

26 U.S. Trucks Damaged by Fire
    MEDFORD, Ore. (AP)--Twenty-six government auto trucks used by the CCC were destroyed in a fire that swept the agricultural building at the county fair grounds Thursday. The building was used by the CCC as a garage and storage warehouse.
Idaho Daily Statesman, Boise, January 22, 1937, page 5

Harrison Gulch Camp Sets Safety Record
    Beneath the American flag at Harrison Gulch CCC camp flies a flag with the following inscribed upon it: "Safety First; Best Camp; Medford District, CCC."
    The Harrison Gulch camp has received the flag for its remarkable record in safety. Considering that approximately 31 camps compete in the safety campaign, the meaning of this flag to the camp is obvious. This camp has an enviable record for no lost time accidents, not having one since January, 1940, not to mention all the other safety achievements obtained along other lines.
    The personnel, army and technical, as well as the enrollees of this camp, are conscious of the honors attached to this flag and therefore are doing their utmost to maintain their good record.
Courier Free Press, Redding California, March 14, 1941, page 2

Local Boy in Oregon Camp Says CCC Offers Many Opportunities
Camp Wimer, P-211
Rogue River, Oregon
May 26, 1941
Mr. L. D. Young,
    Publisher of West Side Journal,
        Fort Allen, Louisiana
Dear Sir:
    Reference is made to the enclosed article on "CCC Opportunities for Young Men of Today."
    Since the CCC have been having such a hard time getting new recruits, we have been asked to write letters to our home papers and ask them to publish the enclosed article, thereby giving local young men there an idea of the CCC and its opportunities.
    We are sure that after reading about the many opportunities offered, young men will realize that they can learn some vocational trade and also get paid while learning it in the CCC.
    With the help of our educational advisor we have composed this article, and I am sending it to you hoping that you will publish it in the West Side Journal, my home paper.
Very truly yours,
    Charles R. Hargroder.
    "The CCC is today doing a fine job in the rehabilitation of the youth of the nation and is preparing large numbers of young men for vital parts in the national defense plans of the nation.
    "When the CCC was first inaugurated in 1933 it was formed with the idea of serving three main objectives. In order of their importance at the time these objectives were: (1) to supply work and relief to those unemployed and in want; (2) to conserve and develop the natural resources of the nation; and (3) to train for self-support unemployed and untrained young men without other opportunities for work and training.
    "Today however the main objectives must be listed in exactly the reverse order. In other words it is no longer necessary for a family to be on relief rolls in order for a young man to join the CCC. This is a minor consideration now due to the fact that so many enrollees have been discharged to accept civilian employment. The main objective at the present time is the training of young men who have no other means of securing training that would be useful to them without the outlay of considerable money to take such a course. Large numbers of our camps at the present time are offering courses in sheet metal working, carpentry, woodworking, auto mechanics and many other trades which qualify men as helpers or apprentices at these trades. Large numbers of the enrollees are leaving our camps daily for civilian employment in national defense plants as a result of the training which they received in the camps.
    "Besides the many opportunities to learn a trade as stated above it is possible for the enrollees to further their education in the academic courses. All of the camps have an educational advisor who is a high school teacher. He advises the men as to the courses they should take and advises and helps them in their courses. Most camps also have at least one teacher paid by the state board of education who conducts classes in various subjects from one to five nights a week. There are classes for those who have had very little education or no schooling, those who have had five or six years and right on up the line. For those who wish to work toward a high school diploma there are some classes and any number of specialized correspondence courses which may be taken and which lead to a diploma. Classes in typing are now held in practically every camp in the country. Large numbers of men have received their grammar school certificates, and a large number have received high school diplomas. There are also many courses suitable for those who have finished high school but never had the chance to attend college. All of the camps at the present time are on the Civil Service mailing lists and receive information on all examinations to be held by this board. Many graduates of the camp typing classes are now holding good paying clerical jobs in civilian life while an exceedingly large number of men who attended auto mechanics courses in camp are now holding responsible positions in the armed forces of our nation working in repair shops and driving trucks. Each day more of the outstanding enrollees are being appointed as junior officers in the camps to take the places of officers who have been called to active duty, and in some cases they are even commanding camps. And instead of the enrollees having to pay for the opportunity to improve himself he is paid to do it, he is fed, clothed, and sheltered and he receives free medical and hospital care in case he is sick or injured.
    "Besides the opportunities listed above there is another one which perhaps overshadows all others in the opinion of many of the enrollees. This is the opportunity to travel to various parts of the country, particularly in the Far West. Perhaps half or more of the timber in the U.S. today is found in the states of Washington, Oregon, and California. Each year more and more camps are being moved from the South and the Middle West to the West Coast, for it is there that the greater part of the work of conservation is needed. Enrollment in the CCC with a request for assignment to the West Coast presents an opportunity which should appeal to all young men, for it gives them a chance that many people fail to get in an entire lifetime. And it is an opportunity that will not present itself again to the majority of us. There is perhaps no more scenic country in the world than our own Pacific Coast and throughout the West. A large majority of the camps in this area today are camps from the South with southern enrollees and officers.
    "The Medford CCC District, with headquarters in Medford, Oregon, includes Southern Oregon and Northern California and is composed of 30 camps, of which 28 of them are from the deep South. This district is known as "America's Most Beautiful CCC District" and embraces some of the most scenic country in the U.S. The giant redwood forests of California, Mt. Shasta, the second highest peak in the country, Mt. Shasta National Forest, Mt. Lassen, the only active volcano in the U.S., and the Mt. Lassen National Forest, Crater Lake, a lake in an old volcano crater with perpendicular cliffs rising one thousand feet from the surface of the water, are only a few of the many scenic wonders of this district.
    "Applications are taken by your local welfare agency, so why not go to them today and make an application for the next enrollment.
    "Request that you be sent to the West Coast and come out and spend a year or so with us. Many of you who come out here will remain as so many have done before and as many of them are doing each day. In some of the camps you will find boys from as many as seven or eight southern states, so there is a good chance that you will wind up in a camp where there is someone that you know. So go by your local welfare agency today and make your application and come on out. We are sure that you will not regret it and you will get paid for seeing things that thousands of people spend thousands of dollars each year for the privilege of seeing. And it is all yours for the small effort it will take to make an application."
West Side Journal, Port Allen, Louisiana, June 6, 1941, page 5

Last revised September 12, 2023