CCC Museum of South Dakota to open this month
References to the Great Depression have been numerous during the current economic recession as media commentators have continually reminded us that we could be slipping into the worst economic downturn since that time. One of the positive things that has arisen from those continual references is a renewed interest in the Great Depression and the people who lived through it.
I don’t know if the rebirth of interest in the Depression is what spurred the development of a Civilian Conservation Corps museum in Hill City, but the museum certainly is coming along at an auspicious time, regardless of the motivations for its founding. The grand opening is scheduled for May 16.
If you’re not familiar with the CCC, here’s a description from Wikipedia:
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program for unemployed men, focused on natural resource conservation from 1933 to 1942. As part of the New Deal legislation proposed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), the CCC was designed firstly, to aid relief of high unemployment stemming from the Great Depression and secondly, carry out a broad natural resource conservation program on national, state and municipal lands.
According to South Dakota author and historian Peggy Sanders, who appears to have been instrumental in the founding of the new museum, there were about 50 CCC camps in South Dakota over a nine-year period. She maintains a CCC blog and a Web page that contain some information about the new museum, and she has written a book about the CCC in and around the Black Hills. Other information about the museum is difficult to find on the Web. I found information about the museum’s grand opening on the Web site of the Tri-State Neighbor.
From what I’ve been able to find quickly in print and on the Internet, it appears that the lookout tower atop Harney Peak and the Norbeck Visitor Center in Custer State Park were among the many CCC projects. The CCC also built many bridges and dams in the state and planted many shelterbelts to ward against the wind erosion that wreaked so much havoc during the Dust Bowl years.
If you’re thinking of checking out the new museum, rest assured you’ll find plenty of other things to do in Hill City. The vintage 1880 Train makes daily summer trips between Hill City and Keystone, and there is a trailhead for the Mickelson Trail in Hill City. Many other Black Hills attractions are within short driving distance.