Butler’s CCC Camp

The creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps was President Roosevelt’s grand plan to put some of America’s hundreds of thousands of unemployed young men to work during the Depression. This was one part of his “New Deal” that was a success. These men — often merely boys — were put to work on a variety of environmental programs such as planting trees and battling mosquitos. Between 1933 and 1942, more than three billion trees were planted, and many miles of trails were built in more than 800 parks nationwide.

In Morris County there were two camps: One at Oak Ridge (roughly in the Cozy Lake Road area) and one in Butler. Almost nothing, other than its general location, is known about the Oak Ridge camp.

The Butler camp was designated Camp S-54, situated on the Pequannock River where Generant today manufactures industrial parts.

Looking north from the camp. I believe that’s Kanouse Mountain in the background.

From surviving photos in the collection of the Butler Museum, it was a pretty large camp. Several barracks buildings held several hundred men. It had all the comforts of home, so to speak, and like other CCC camps, was generous with the chow, as young boys needed to keep their strength up for what was arduous work — planting trees in the surrounding region and clearing trails for hikers.

Hey Cookie, what’s for dinner?

According to History magazine,

Under the guidance of the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, CCC employees fought forest fires, planted trees, cleared and maintained access roads, re-seeded grazing lands and implemented soil-erosion controls.

Additionally, they built wildlife refuges, fish-rearing facilities, water storage basins and animal shelters. To encourage citizens to get out and enjoy America’s natural resources, FDR authorized the CCC to build bridges and campground facilities.

An existing railroad line on the opposite side of the river was utilized to drop off supplies. The boys made regular R-and-R trips to nearby Butler as well as Paterson.

These photos and others are from the Butler (NJ) Museum. There is also a collection of the newsletters published there filled with news and gossip, attesting to the high spirits of the CCC members. Today, nothing remains of the camp.