Boxes and a shovel found at Ranger Headquarters have helped reveal much of the history of Big Pine National Forest. At least one, and probably two or more Civilian Conservation Corps camps were organized in the Knotty Pine District. Camp 1, as it was officially known, was nicknamed Camp Shady.
Many of the forested areas in the Shady Valley suffered from overlogging and forest fires that burned hundreds of acres. Approximately three fourths of the region's trees had been lost, and erosion caused further damage. Nothing had been done to repair or replace those pines until the CCC camp was established at Knotty Pine.
The boys at Camp Shady planted thousands of trees, repaired erosion damage, and dug ditches and creeks to prevent erosion. The boys also built Ranger Headquarters, including its fireplace of rock from all over the Shady Valley.
Camp Shady began as a military style tent camp. As time went along, the boys were moved into some of the Knotty Pine warehouses that the boys converted into barracks. The boys were well fed and warmly clothed. The Ranger Bill Jefferson home was home to the commanders at Camp Shady.
The 3C Boys were paid a modest $30 per month. $25 of that was sent to each boy's family to help support the family during the Depression. $5 went directly to each boy for personal expenses. Knotty Pine was a tiny one-horse farm town struggling to survive during the Depression. The money spent by the 3C Boys and to run Camp Shady kept Knotty Pine from disappearing at that time.
The boys were paid more than just $30 per month. Many boys has little or no education. Many could not read or write. Few had any working skills. The boys at Camp Shady were taught to read and write and learned trades like plumbing, carpentry, drafting, surveying and more during the evening hours. Many of these classes were held at Ranger Headquarters and at the Jefferson home.
The volume of information on Big Pine and the 3C Boys was too large for one article. So the GAZETTE editors have decided to break this into a series of articles. The editors felt that this information was too important to skip any of the details. Look forward to information on the Maggie Murphy family connection to Big Pine. Also Information Ranger Rocky McGuire has found more details on the CCC in Knotty Pine and another Depression era program, the WPA.