My newest book, see cover image above, is dedicated to the thousands of young men who joined the CCC during the Great Depression of the 1930s. These young men came from the cities, from Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee, from small towns like Pine River and Tomahawk, and from farms, too. They represented a generation of young men who, through no fault of their own could not find jobs because there were no jobs.

Starting in 1933, many of these forgotten young men signed up for a new government program dedicated to conservation. It became known as the Civilian Conservation Corps. Its mission was simple: put young men to work on the land.

The organization of the CCC looked impossible, for it specified that three governmental organizations work together: The Army, The Department of Interior, and The Department of Agriculture. But it worked. And it worked well. These young men planted trees, built windbreaks, introduced contour farming and erosion control, developed state and national parks, fought forest fires, developed tree nurseries, help build fish hatcheries, and much more.

I was a little kid when one day some CCC boys arrived at our farm. They were looking for gooseberry plants (Ribes genus) to remove, as these plants were host to White Pine Blister Rust that was devastating white pines. I also remember when CCC boys developed the Wild Rose Fish Hatchery including the beautiful wall along Highway 22 at the fish hatchery entrance.

THE OLDTIMER SAYS: As the CCC boys saved the land, they saved themselves.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to 

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