Story and Photos courtesy of Bob Imhoff
The story of ANF Camp #1 at Duhring will cover its history as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp during the years of the Great Depression and its use as a site for Prisoners of War and Contentious Objectors during the Second World War.
On April 17, 1933, the first CCC camp in the country opened on the George Washington National Forest in Virginia. This was Camp F-l, Camp Roosevelt, situated 9 miles east of Edinburg, VA. During the first enrollment period, nine more camps opened on the forest and continued operating through the winter. These were Camps F-2, Mt. Solon; F-3, West Augusta; F-4, Fulks Run; F-8, Sherando; F-9, Vesuvius; F-10, Snowden; F-l 1, Goshen; F 13, Natural Bridge; and F-15, Wolf Gap. In August 1935, Camps F-16, Woodson, and F- 18, Oronoco, began operation. In April 1938, F-25, Bath-Alum, opened with enrollees from the Woodson Camp. A 14th camp, F-24, Allegheny, also operated briefly in the George Washington Forest.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was authorized by an Act of Congress on March 31, 1933. On April 23, 1933, 1st Lt. Malcolm F. Reed was the second US Army officer to be called to active duty to serve with the Civilian Conservation Corps. He moved his family to Duhring, PA and established the second camp in the United States at a place called Pigeon, PA. ANF Camp 1 at Duhring is the most intact CCC Camp remaining in the United States.
On April 25, 1933, the second CCC Camp by eight days established temporary tent emplacements at Camp ANF-1, Company 318 at Pigeon, PA. By the time winter came that year, 3 barracks and a mess hall had been constructed.
Before the winter of 1934 came, 3 more barracks and the camp garage had been constructed. On November 14, 1934, 1st Lt. Malcolm F. Reed was promoted to Captain.
Requirements for Joining the Civilian Conservation Corps
There were requirements for joining the CCC. These included being unemployed and that one’s father was unemployed. The enrollee had to be between the ages of 18 and 25, and unmarried. Many of the men at ANF-1 arrived from other parts of Pennsylvania, especially those counties where out of every 100 people, 25 or more were unemployed. Often enrollees arrived from other states as well, particularly from the southern United States. Typically, the men came to camp hungry and poorly clothed. They were given uniforms and fed 3 meals a day. They earned $30 a month, $25 of which was sent home to their families.
The Early Years
Oil and Gas
Northwestern Pennsylvania appealed to early European settlers due to its natural resources: animal hides, lumber, coal, oil, and gas. Site evidence and local history suggest that in the late 19th Century, the site was used by the lumber industry, perhaps as a dam and a lumber mill site believed to have existed in 1880. Today evidence left behind from those activities includes pipelines, buildings that housed works such as compressors and gauges, oil derricks and pumps.
The lumber and forestry heritages are rich in this region. The native hardwood forests provided wood for homes, furniture, and paper products, as well as charcoal and wood chemical products, including tannic add for curing leather. The lumber industry provided numerous jobs and economic prosperity. However, it had devastating effects upon the environment. Deforestation and erosion have exacted heavy tolls on the landscape and native species. Today, this rich industrial and forest product history is being proudly preserved and recognized. This site is located within the Lumber Heritage Region of Pennsylvania and the PA Wilds and contributes to their legacies.
During the logging boom of the late 19th century the site was used by the lumber industry, and later by the oil and gas industry, based on evidence left behind. In the 1900s the site was owned by the Cheesborough Corporation. An original gas building, of which only the foundation remains, dates to 1918.
Conversion of Site to CCC Camp
After the stock market crash of 1929, the United States fell into the Great Depression. Passive unemployment coupled with devastated ecosystems across the country lead President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to take drastic measures when he began his term in office in 1933. Within the first 100 days of his presidency, Roosevelt released a package called The New Deal, which was aimed at solving problems the nation faced. Included within The New Deal was the development of the Civilian Conservation Corps, established on March 31, 1933. The C.C.C. was designed to provide work for the legions of unemployed young men who were compensated with $30 per month in addition to three meals a day and the opportunity to take evening classes ranging from reading and writing skills to machinery.
Nationally, between 1933 and 1941 there were approximately 2600 CCC camps and at least one existed in every state. The CCCs constructed roads, bridges, dams and built cabins and pavilions in many of our nation’s State and National Parks and Forests. They also constructed thousands of miles of telephone and electricity lines in rural areas.
Environmental revitalization projects were also a focus of their work, including erosion control, planting trees and fighting forest fires.
In 1933 the United States government Department of the Army leased the property from the Cheesborough Corporation/Duhring Development Company for $1 per year. Originally, the government had chosen another location for the CCC camp, but then switched it to this location; presumably for its access to water and the already existing oil and gas infrastructure, which they would have used to heat the buildings. For the next twelve years the Federal government had possession of the property. It served as a camp for the Civilian Conservation Corps until World War II, when it became a camp for conscientious objectors to military service, as well as a prisoner of war camp.
Following being decommissioned in late 1940s the site was not destroyed (as so many other CCC and POW camps were) but became Forest County Camp. It was a retreat for members of 4-H, band camps, and football camps.
National Statistics of the CCC camp Projects
The U.S. Army ran the CCC camps, with Army reservists serving as officers, although the ‘boys’ were technically civilians. The camps were laid out on military lines, and daily activities ware regimented. In the years between 1933 and 1942 the CCC:
built 46,854 bridges
developed over 800 state parks
restored 3,980 historic structures
installed approximately 5,000 miles of water supply lines
moved and planted 45 million trees and shrubs for landscaping planted over three billion trees
surveyed and mapped millions of acres and thousands of lakes
built 1,865 drinking fountains
built 204 lodges and museums
spent 201,739 man-days fighting coal fires which had been burning since earliest recorded history. In Wyoming alone, the CCC saved billions of tons of coal
built 3,116 lookout towers built 8,065 wells and pump house
The CCC in Pennsylvania
There were over 100 CCC camps in Pennsylvania, and thirteen within the Allegheny National Forest. During the Great Depression, Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot, who was already a leader in the environmental conservation effort, pre-dated the CCC and began a program of labor camps designed to improve environmental conditions in rural areas. Pinchot met with President Roosevelt regarding the establishment of the CCC, and it is likely that ANF-1, being located so close to the site of the Bear Creek Fire as well as a heavily timbered area, may have been one of the early sites identified by Pinchot, and thus the reason for its early inception as a CCC camp.
ANF Camp #1 and its Projects
Camp ANF-1 was first planned to be located at Pebble Dell however was soon moved down the road to its current site, most likely because, of the available access to power and water and flat open land. Due to the decision to relocate the camp, it goes by several names: Pebble Dell, Pigeon, ANF#1 company 318, or Camp Landers after the original commander of the camp.
In 1933, the site was owned by Duhring Development Company, who was in the business of extracting oil and gas. In April of that year, the Duhring Development Company leased the property to the U.S. government. CCC officers and workers arrived at ANF-1 on April 27, 1933. The first arrivals lived in tents; the Mess Hall was the first building constructed in late 1933. In early 1934, the Camp Headquarters, ‘Barn 2’ (barracks) and the barracks next to ‘Barn 2’ (no longer standing) were constructed. ‘Barn 1’ and two other barracks (also no longer standing) were constructed in the spring and summer of 1934.
The men who came to Camp ANF-1 were predominately from the cities. The first arrivals came by railroad to Byromtown and had to walk approximately three miles into the camp.
The enrollees worked Mondays through Fridays, and with their free time they could leave camp and visit neighboring towns (Pigeon, Duhring, Byromtown, and Marienville) during which many of them spent their weekly $5. Other activities on camp included baseball, boxing, basketball, theatre and chorus, among others.
For nearly the first six months they lived in bell tents without electricity; the first building constructed was the Mess Hall, in 1933. At ANF-1, the projects were overseen by members of the Allegheny National Forest, but the U.S. Army supervised the camps. Carpenters and “local experienced men” also provided trailing and oversight for many CCC projects and educational programs. The men at ANF Camp #1 worked on planting trees, building roads and constructing telephone lines and were on-call for fighting forest fires that were very common during the final years of the great mass extractions that took place in the area of the Allegheny National Forest. The camp was responsible for the first tree planting by any CCC camp in the United States and planted over 785 acres with red pines. These plantings can be seen today in various places in Elk County as perfectly aligned rows of pines. Camp ANF-1 also worked on building recreational sites in the area. They constructed the dam, swimming area and pavilions at Loleta, worked on construction of Twin Lakes, Kelly Pines and assisted at Clear Creek State Park.
ANF Camp #1 as a Prisoner of War and Conscientious Objector Internment Camp
During 1942-1943 the camp served as an internment camp for conscientious objectors.
The site served as a prisoner of war camp during World War II from 1944 to 1946. Prisoners were both Germans and Italians and were put to work at the camp constructing roads in the ANF and cutting pulpwood. During their time at the camp the site was surrounded by barbed wire fence, search lights and men with machine guns on watchtowers along the periphery of the site. ANF-1 was used as a CCC camp from April 26, 1933 until December 1943, which was when the official liquidation order was given for the camp. This camp was home to thousands of enrollees who worked tirelessly to conserve that natural landscape of the ANF. After the order for liquidation was received, the camp was transferred from the CCC administration to the Forest Service Division, who leased it to the United States Army. On September 15, 1947, after the last POWs had been repatriated, the U.S. Army decided to decommission the site and donated it to the Camp Committee of the Forest County Agricultural Extension Association.
For more information on historical areas in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors, go to VisitPAGO.com.