July 28 — STAFFORD SPRINGS — After being closed last year, the Connecticut Civilian Conservation Corps Museum is officially reopening for the season.
The museum is open Memorial Day through Columbus Day weekend on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. It is located at 166 Chestnut Hill Road in Stafford Springs. Admission is free and free parking is available on site.
The museum features artifacts, photographs, exhibits, and information about the 21 Civilian Conservation Corps camps in Connecticut and other northeastern states.
The Civilian Conservation Corps began on March 31, 1933 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program to relieve poverty and unemployment caused by the Great Depression.
The U.S. Army oversaw the Civilian Conservation Corps camps, which had about 200 men each. Camps were held in each of the country’s 48 states as well as the US territories of Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
In 1933, 13 camps were established in Connecticut city state parks and forests. This included Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield, Meshomasic State Forest in Cobalt, and Paugnut State Forest in Torrington.
Later in the Great Depression, eight more camps were added, including the American Legion State Forest in Barkhamsted and the Shenipsit State Forest in Stafford Springs.
Men between the ages of 18 and 25 enrolled in each camp for six months. To enroll in the camp, men had to be single, unemployed, and uneducated. Each worked a 40-hour workweek and was paid $30 a month.
The United States government sent $25 a month to the men’s families, while the remaining $5 went to the men.
“The boys received good food, uniforms, shelter and medical care,” said Martin Podskoch, the museum’s volunteer coordinator. “At first they lived in tents; later they lived in wooden buildings.”
Men have built paths, roads,
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