This chimney is the only reminder of the recreation hall from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp V2775 Mandan located at the former fairgrounds (now baseball and softball complex) in southwest Mandan. This unique camp was staffed with World War I veterans; hence the “V” designation. Only 3 camps of the 250+ CCC camps in the nation were reserved for veterans. Typically, about 250 men aged seventeen to twenty-three made up a company. With the addition of another 45 men in October 1937 consolidated from the camp in Fargo, the Mandan location became the largest CCC camp in North Dakota.
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During their off hours, CCCers played cards, billiards and table tennis or bought snacks at the canteen in the building. Just outside was a baseball field, right where one of Mandan’s softball diamonds are today. On July 15, 1989 at the annual reunion of the National Association of CCC Alumni, the group placed a plaque in the chimney, made by member Merlin Dahl, to assure its significance would be suitably marked.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was created in April 1933 and was active through June 1942. Its purpose was to relieve the widespread unemployment and distress during the Great Depression. This federal government program focused on the restoration of natural resources and construction of useful public works such as parks and municipal utilities.
Fort Abraham Lincoln, located 6 miles south of present day Mandan, was established in 1872 to protect area settlers and the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad. After fulfilling its mission, it was abandoned in 1891. In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt deeded the grounds of the former fort to the State of North Dakota.
Layout of Camp <Click to Enlarge>
Park development started on July 4, 1934 under the direction by the National Park Service in connection with the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Its primary aim was to preserve the history connected with the area including the Mandan Slant Indian Village and the ruins of the Fort Abraham Lincoln Infantry and Cavalry Posts.
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The main projects for preservation was the rebuilding of the block houses and the palisades at the infantry post, the marking of the foundations and labeling of building sites for both the infantry and cavalry posts, the re-building of five Mandan earth lodges on the Slant Village Site, and the construction of a museum building of native stone to house historical displays. The rebuilt fort and state park buildings were dedicated July 17, 1938.
Once the work at the state park was complete, crews were redeployed to make improvements at the City of Mandan's fairgrounds near their camp.
Some 33,000 North Dakota men served in the CCC. The Depression Era program provided jobs to 3 million unemployed young men around the country. In those nine years, the program built, installed or restored 46,845 bridges, 800 state parks, 4622 fish-rearing ponds, 5,000 miles of water supply lines, 3,462 beaches. They are also credited with the relocation of 45 million trees and shrubs as well as 3 billion newly planted trees.
The Society would like to thank Arley Olson for sharing his research and other information for this article.
The MHSoc's museum and office is located at 3827 30th Avenue NW; PO Box 98; Mandan, ND 58554 Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org