The Civilian Conservation Corps implemented by the great American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, known to many as FDR, is one of the great programs implemented in American democracy. In 1933 the country was facing unemployment rates of 25 percent, and in Utah, the rate was 34 percent. Lives without purpose were promoting a national sense of hopelessness.  Young men across the United States were desperate to contribute to society and find value.  FDR, despite his many critics, instituted this social program and changed the lives of tens of thousands of young men. Much of FDR’s opposition came from Utah and those leading the state at that time saying that it was a form of socialism and that it would lead to government dependence. But Franklin pushed forward with his plan despite the naysayers and the United States would forever be in his debt and arguably Utah received some of the most significant benefits from the program that have set the stage for Utah’s massive tourism economy ever since.

Zion Home to Three Camps

The young men of the CCC descended upon Zion National Park in 1933, and they wouldn’t leave until 1942. There were three CCC camps in Zion consisting of 200 men in each of the barracks. Working under the direction of the army, they built campgrounds, roads, put out fires, eliminated evasive plants, planted trees, built stone buildings, bridges, and an amphitheater. The stone buildings and the amphitheater are still in use today. Many of the young men took night classes taught by the Park Rangers. When the CCC finally ended these young men had acquired a love for learning and hard work. Many of them would continue working in the fields of engineering and education. And many of them would serve in World War II. They were acclimated to an environment serving with other young men and made the transition into military life quite readily.
Over the course of 9 years, the young men of the CCC would plant over 3 billion trees, stock over a billion fish, build a million miles of trails and roads, put out countless fires, cleared grazing land, stabilized flood control regions, built hundreds of parks and campgrounds. The CCC would end up accommodating more than 3 million young men, giving them purpose and meaning across America.

The Greatest Generation

The Zion National Park of today that over 5 million people enjoy each year would not be possible without the work of these young men. This generation has mostly passed on now, but their legacy will live with us forever. We refer to them as “the greatest generation.” This would not have happened if not for the fearless leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Through his perseverance. The fabric and tapestry of this nation would have forever been altered in the wrong direction without Franklin’s insight and tenacity, and without doubt, Zion National Park wouldn’t be able to accommodate a tenth of the visitors without the back-breaking work of these young men of the 1930s.