The story of the Civilian Conservation Corps cannot be told without knowing the tale of the times from which it was created. The stock market crash of 1929, which led to the Great Depression coupled with the lack of soil conservation enabled the drought to turn the western states into a giant dust bowl. These were all circumstances that left our country in a time of need.
The 1932 presidential election was more a cry for help from a desperate people near panic than a "landslide" vote. The nation turned to Franklin D. Roosevelt to find an end to rampant unemployment and economic chaos that griped the country.
Accepting the presidential nomination on July 1, 1932, Roosevelt planned to fight soil erosion and declining timber resources by utilizing the unemployed from the large urban areas. The newly elected president wasted no time. He called the 73rd Congress into emergency session on March 9, 1933, to hear and authorize his program. He proposed to recruit thousands of unemployed young men, enroll them into a peacetime army, and send them into battle against the destruction of our natural resources.
Over three million men participated in the most popular program of the "New Deal." This program was called the Civilian Conservation Corps and coined the CCC.
[Inset photo caption reads] Black Sunday, April 1935. Dust storm approaches Ulysses, Grant County [Kansas], as people cross the street to take cover. It went from daylight to total darkness in one minute. Hugh Bennett estimated this storm blew 300 million tons of soil from the land (SCS Photo by R. L. Gray) Courtesy A History of Natural Resource Conservation in Kansas by John Spurling