“Traveling History’s Trail . . . Together”

Article on CCC artist research by Kathleen Duxbury and Gardner Year used with permission of Autumn Years 2015

Delighted with the entertaining article that highlights on our efforts researching the Civilian Conservation Corps and the New Deal CCC art program.

“Traveling History’s Trail . . . Together” written by Patricia Farrell Delhauser along with the design and layout by Heidi Gross appeared in the Fall 2015 edition of Autumn Years magazine.

The full, ten page, spread can be viewed on my KathleenDuxbury.com website.

Included in this article are numerous photographs from our research travels in addition to several images selected from my CCC fine art infrared collection. The infrared image of the CCC Worker statue , which symbolically overlooks Bowman Bay at Deception Pass State Park in Washington, stands proudly outside the park CCC Interpretive Center. It is a monument that honors the legacy of the CCC.

The history of this unusual CCC Worker statue is a complex one. A daunting challenge to investigate, but a challenge I accept.

Suffice to say the genesis of the statues purpose and designs actually harkens back to 1934, but that is yet another compelling story of the CCC – the art, artists and history.

Deception Pass CCC statue
Deception Pass CCC statue ©KathleenDuxbury.com – with permission Autumn Years magazine 2015


“Traveling History’s Trail . . . Together” article on CCC artist research by Kathleen Duxbury and Gardner Year used with permission of Autumn Years 2015



CCC ART – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps – Marshall Davis

Remembering the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) by discovering the art and artists who depicted it.

 “CCC ART – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps – Marshall Davis” my latest book on a quiet part of American art history, the CCC art program, is now available. More information can be found here. It has been an exciting and labor intensive journey of discovery, on so many levels.


Available direct from the author Kathleen Duxbury at www.kathleenduxbury.com
  Order Here or on Amazon

NEWS May 2015 – Available at the FDR Presidential Library bookstore, Hyde Park, New York.
A visit to the Home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a National Historic Site, is highly recommended. So much to do and see.
Pick up your copy of “CCC ART – Marshall Davis” at the New Deal Store.


 “I have a pile of picture material – and thanks to those managing the Art Project
and Mr. Hoyt of Happy Days – the time is drawing near when I will have nothing to do
but sleep – eat – and draw . . . I assure you I will do my best with every opportunity.”
(Clarence) Marshall Davis

One can easily sense the excitement felt by junior Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) enrollee Marshall Davis on March 24, 1934 as he put pen to paper and wrote those words to Edward Rowan in the Treasury Department  Washington, D.C.  Marshall Davis was soon to receive an honorable discharge from the CCC making him a civilian free to sign on to the first of the Great Depression government art programs, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP). Once CCC Director, Robert Fechner and PWAP Director, Edward Bruce became aware of Davis and his remarkable talents they quickly intervened and arranged for his discharge and transfer.

Marshall Davis was caught up in a dramatic and timely turn of events that would enable him to leave CCC Co. 1253, Hattiesburg, Mississippi and embark on a artistic journey that would change his life, career and provide us, eight decades later, with a collection of illustrations and articles that masterfully narrate the life and work of the real CCC.

CCCArtist_Records from the collection and research files of Kath

Marshall Davis-HappyDays-CCCArtist

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his personal approval to the making of a pictorial record of the CCC,  his favorite New Deal work program, by sending artists into CCC camps. If you have seen a copy of Happy Days, a holiday menu, a postcard or one of the CCC handbooks; Your CCC or We Can Take It, you have seen the art of the most prolific CCC artist, Marshall Davis.

As an embedded artist and reporter Marshall Davis traveled extensively within the lower forty-eight states, illustrating and writing on the remarkable successes and often humorous splinters of Roosevelt’s tree army.

He was extremely talented and resourceful. The drawings and personal journey of Marshall Davis add a unique and valuable component, helping us all to gain a better understanding of Americas greatest conservation movement and Americas greatest generation.

Now available – CCC ART – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps – Marshall Davis” has been deeply researched. Explaining, perhaps for the first time, the genesis of the CCC art program. It tells the remarkable story of one artist, Marshall Davis, who like so many idle and struggling artists, was desperate for meaningful work during the cruelest years of the Great Depression. No artist knew the CCC better than Marshall Davis, he was one of them

. . .  Until supplies last . . .



Product Details Book –
CCC ART – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps
Marshall Davis

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Duxbury Media, Incorporated; 1 edition (December 5, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0986003840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0986003844
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces

CCC Holidays

Thanksgiving_Marshall-DavisHoliday Greetings

Between 1934 – 1937 the CCC special Art Project was active, the goal was to make a pictorial record of the life and work in the CCC camps.

All CCC artists were directed to be of assistance to the camp authorities when requests of an artistic nature were made. Many created murals for the Recreation Halls, paintings and diagrams for the classrooms and often did illustrations for the camp newspapers and reports. Their artistic talents were very much appreciated as they were called on to create art decorations for the camps and company publications, especially around the holidays.


CCCArtist_Records from the collection and research files of Kath
The most prolific CCC artist was Marshall Davis, he entered the CCC as a regular enrollee and brought along his sketch pad. His talents were soon  recognized and when the CCC special art program began he became a part of it. In time he was offered a staff position at the CCC unofficial newspaper “Happy Days“. His art is found on the Thanksgiving and Christmas menus along with years of illustrations in “Happy Days” and other CCC publications.

Happy Days CCC 1938-11-12-1

A book is in the works – titled ” CCC Artists – Marshall Davis – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps“. Publication will be in 2014 and  sizable amount of his CCC art will be featured to illustrate his remarkable story. Suffice to say, no other artist had visited as many CCC camps or knew the program as well as Marshall Davis, his depictions are humorous and poignant, he was a prolific CCC artist.

CCCArtist_Records from the collection and research files of KathAnother artist was Ted Bonnickson who contributed this New Years this cartoon to “Happy Days”. Bonnickson had trained at the Chicago School of Art but, like so many artists of his time he entered the commercial art field during the cruelest years of the Great Depression when their was little to no work for established artists. Bonnickson also signed on as a regular enrollee and like Davis had his status changed to Artist/Enrollee.

Dangers-CCC Some like Arkansas artist,  Benham Carter Dangers, sent sample of his art and applied directly to the agency in Washington, DC, the Section of Painting and Sculpture, that administered the CCC art program for admission. His application was made during the last months of the program and although he may not have had access to the art education of some other artists; he was accepted in to the program because his talents were recognized.  Benham Dangers was a young, unemployed artist, the time spent as a CCC Artist/Enrollee was instructive and empowering. The experience served him well in his future artistic endeavors.

The CCC camp newspapers of the 193o’s, for the most part, were not high quality; often they were printed using the low-budget camp mimeograph machine. Drawing and illustrations did not reproduce well using this method and many of these camp papers were preserved, decades later, by copying them to microfilm  or microfiche, a copying process that does not enhance the lines and details of any art. The copy of the Dangers illustration used for the cover of the camp newspaper “The Cassette” 1936 – 1937 Christmas and New Year edition was in extremely poor condition. All things considered he seems to have mastered the stylus used for this mimeographed stencil.

1935- Day after Thanksgiving Marshall Davis - Happy Days 11/23/1
CCC Camp authorities made an extra effort to entertain and provide a feast that would weigh down the tables, often the camps and the CCC boys reached out to the nearby community, especially the children, and included them in their parties and other holiday celebrations. It was the Great Depression and, as hard as it may have been to be so far away from home and family, holidays in the CCC camps would become for many CCC boys a lifetime memory.



A recommended website to read a wonderful article on the Holidays in the CCC camps can be found here:  Forest Army – Stories from the CCC.
Happy New Year 12-26-1936




George Gordon Snyder – Final Years

Part 1 of this story may be found here

George Gordon Snyder was like a rolling stone, never in one place for long. Each decade brought change…and with it a new location to call home. His life-long pursuit of art would keep him working hard and challenged as he struggled to support himself, his wife and feed his passion for painting.

In the late 1800’s, Sarah Lewis Snyder, was a widowed mother of five and after George, her youngest child, completed elementary school she left Iowa and relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska. Qualifying for a mortgage, she purchased a home in a new development, five blocks east of the State Capitol Building and a mile south of the state university on South 21st Street. For the next four decades she lived there with her daughter Nettie, a bookkeeper.  Sarah was in her 92nd year when she died in 1931. The house had been valued the year before at $3000 and passed to Nettie, who never married or had children.


Perhaps this inheritance led to some resentment on Georges’ part. At the time of his mother’s death he was 58 years old and married. The financial stability his siblings had found eluded him, the crushing depression years were just beginning  and George was once again unemployed and struggling…having lost his position as a Designer with Marshall Field & Company he would soon leave Chicago in his self-made house truck, desperately optimistic that somehow, by traveling, he could produce an income from his artistic endeavors.

A suggestion of this possible bitterness is found in his CCC enrollment records; if you read between the lines.
CCC enrollment records George Gordon Snyder

When George arrived at the Petit Jean State Park CCC camp, in January 1937, an “Enrollee Cumulative Record” report was added to his file. This personal record was compiled by the district Education Advisor; notations and evaluations were made on the courses George took (Journalism) and taught (Art).  Accounts of his previous education, employment and family background were included. The entries are not in Georges’ handwriting, nor did he sign off on them. The specifics noted were in all likelihood provided by George during the three interviews with the camp Educational Advisor.

Several discrepancies and embellishments emerge…Snyder was older, by decades, than everyone at the Petit Jean camp, including the advisor… entries for his birthdate, education and other milestones span years that do not compute; if believed this accounting would make him 37 years old when he graduated elementary school  in Iowa.…decades are compressed in this biographical profile…the information for his father  agrees with previous records but, a curious name is provided for his deceased mother:  “Jessebell”.

During the 1930’s, Nettie found employment as a sales clerk and continued to live alone in the Lincoln, Nebraska home; she remained there until her death in September 1941, at the age of 79 years.

During the following year the house stood vacant and then Georges’ older brother Frank, who appears to be the last of his living siblings, died. Sometime after this George and Carrie left Arkansas and chicken farming … they moved into the South 21st Street Lincoln house… here George found the means to continue with his painting; they made Nebraska their new home.

Although George did not advertise or have a phone he would again have had the space to set up a home studio, perhaps he found a market for his landscapes and decorative talents. World War II had ended, America was now the most powerful nation; the economy was rebounding …conceivably George had found stability.

As George entered his 79th year he still identified himself as an artist and was designated as one in the Lincoln Nebraska Community Directory for 1951 on page 522:

 “SNYDER, Geo G (Carrie L) artist h 427 S 21st

This directory entry is the last reference found for George.

Lincoln Directories After 1951 George and Carrie L. , who was now using variations of her middle name (Luettie, Luetti and Louella), are not recorded as living together in Lincoln or anywhere else. The house, that had been in the Snyder family for almost seven decades, was rented for a couple of years and then stood vacant from 1955 -1959, when (Carrie) Mrs. Luetti Snyder returned. For the next four years she lived in the Snyder house on South 21st Street… she was alone.

Her listing reappears in 1967, living in an apartment on “O” Street:
Louella Snyder (wid George G.)

This 1950 and 1960’s era would usher in the age of McCarthyism, the Cold War and anti-communistic attitudes that were, at best, dismissive of art from the 1930’s. Ironically, around this period renovations were made to the Department of Agriculture building in Washington DC.  The facelift would purge from the walls decorative pieces from the New Deal, paintings that were on permanent loan; art that was meant to bring culture and beauty  to the people and serve as decoration to taxpayer funded government buildings. Among the art discarded were oils depicting one of the greatest conservation movements in American history, the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The story is told that among the restoration cast-offs were the 1937 landscapes created by CCC Artist G. G. Snyder: ”View from  Lodge” and “Section of Lodge” … it’s said they were found outside the building, in a dumpster and salvaged by one of the construction crew.

View from Lodge - Mather Lodge Petit Jean State ParkView from Lodge - Mather Lodge Petit Jean State Park 

These historic CCC New Deal art treasures have returned home to the Ozarks they depict. Once again, they will bring beauty and art to the people; in addition, their backstory will make interesting conversation as they grace the wall of the newly renovated Mather Lodge, built by the CCC enrollees, at Petit Jean State Park in Morrilton, Arkansas.


Endnotes: Researching G. G. Snyder’s’ final years has been challenging, it’s still unknown when and where he died but assumed it was between 1951 – 1959. Being self-employed he was exempt from enrolling in the Social Security program that began in 1935.
Many thanks to Scott C., Reference Services, Bennett Martin Public Library, Lincoln, NE for researching the City Directories. Records obtained from the following sources completed the story of the G.G. Snyder years:  National Archives Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland;  CCC camp inspection reports, Petit Jean and Devils Den Forest Service Narrative and Project reports. Personal CCC artist file of George Gordon Snyder found at the NARA – Civilian Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri; Photographs from Forest Service reports, US Census Records, City of Lincoln Nebraska City Directories, Library of Congress. The image of the City Directory for Nebraska spans decades and has been composited to demonstrate the timeline of the Snyder family residency.  Every attempt has been made to present an accurate and factual record of the life of CCC artist, George Gordon Snyder and his CCC art.                   Kathleen Duxbury, June 24, 2013

Idle Artist of the Great Depression – George Gordon Snyder – Oldest CCC artist

By the time the 1934 New Deal CCC artist program commenced George Gordon Snyder, born September 10, 1873 in Charles City, Iowa,  was once again an unemployed artist. George was into his 60’s when he put pen to paper and signed the official CCC  “OATH OF ENROLLMENT“.  He was older than President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and stranded in Hot Springs, Arkansas…the CCC artist program was all that was available…he had no other options.

 Edward Rowan was appointed to the position of Assistant Technical Director, Treasury Department Section of Painting and Sculpture, it was he who approved the enrollment of the artists and advised them:
“I want to stress to the artists that the purpose of sending them to these camps is to secure a pictorial record which will be of some value not only at the present, but in the future, of the life and activities of these camps.”Edward B. Rowan 11/16/1934

CCC artists were not bound by the limitation of age or marital status. They signed on for six month tours with a status of : “Artist/Enrollee” and with Rowan’s approval they could re-enroll indefinitely.

They were exempt from labor and fatigue duties but were not eligible for advancement, increase in pay or promotions.  They received the full $30 a monthly pay and were required to furnish their own art supplies with the understanding that all art created in a 40 hour work week belonged to America and all movable pieces were to be shipped  to the Treasury Department warehouse in Washington, DC where it would be allocated to tax-payer funded buildings or organizations.

In researching George Gordon Snyder it seems each decade was either feast or famine in regards to his financial security, which directly affected his artistic growth. Between 1910 and 1920 he worked as a commercial artist and blacksmith in Oregon, for a short time he studied art at the University of Nebraska, but never graduated. In 1922, he found work as an artist with the famous Marshall Field Department stores in Chicago and for seven years was gainfully employed.

During that time he married a much younger mid-western woman, Carrie L., from Branson, Missouri, she was 28 and he was 50 years old. The 1920’s decade were boom years for Marshall Fields and this in turn provided security for George and Carrie who were living less than three miles from the western shore of Lake Michigan. Their monthly rent of $55 was among the highest of the Montana Street tenants and unlike their neighbors they did not own a radio.

By 1929, a change in retail distribution and wholesale patterns in addition to the beginnings of the Great Depression could not save Marshall Field’s wholesale division or G. G. Snyder’s career as a commercial artist.

George, who always desired to get into the field of fine art, once again found himself unemployed …he built a “house truck”… they left Illinois and headed south toward the Ozarks.  His hope was that this traveling studio would provide a: “living in the hills while spanning the gulf between the work that I had been doing and the kind of work which I wanted to do.” G.G. Snyder Nov. 24, 1934

During the winter of 1934, George and Carrie were in Hot Springs, Arkansas and for a few months he found work with the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), the first government subsidized art program administered by the Treasury Department. As a PWAP artist, George painted at least three pieces. The oil titled “Newcomer” would later be presented to Arkansas Governor F. W. Futrall and two of his other PWAP paintings “The Ozark Plowman” and “The Cross-Cut Saw” were shipped to Washington, DC . (1)

These impressive commissions did little to create financial security for George, like so many artists,  he was unemployed again and contacted Edward Rowan in Washington, DC requesting a positon as a CCC artist.  “If I understand some of the aims of the current administration  correctly, I represent the class of citizens it wishes to reach and help.”  G. G. Snyder Nov. 24, 1934

 G. G. Snyder was 61 years old, on January 23, 1935, when he arrived at Devils Den State Park in West Fork, Arkansas.  He would reside there for two years while Carrie stayed in the “house truck” in Hot Springs.
Eventually he would move her and the truck to Fayetteville so she could attend classes at the University there.  He considered this arrangement a hardship for her and although he would have liked to provide better living conditions, especially during the winter months, he was reluctant to leave his artist position with the CCC…he felt it was doing him good and he liked working under Rowan…he was creating fine art landscapes… he was working and his art  was appreciated.

George was putting in more than the required 40 hours per week,; he was a high volume painter in addition to teaching the CCC boys the art basics and drawing for the camp newspapers.

At regular intervals, Snyder would ship paintings to Rowan and then wait to hear and act on his critiques and suggestions. Rowan would suggest that he warm up his pallete; acknowledging that Snyder was using the better art materials, which were more expensive, Rowan expressed regret that they were unable to change the stipulation requiring artists to provide their own supplies. Snyder also received word that the office in DC was now receiving requests for his landscapes.

On February 17, 1935, less than a month after arriving he sent his first group of paintings from Devils Den and  included the description of: “The Road Builders” (Bridal Path Bridge) depicts some men completing a bridge on a bridal path, camp No. 2 below showing dimly on the hazy day.”

During the two years George was at Devils Den there were several changes in command and companies of CCC boys and hisaccommodations  varied from living in the barracks with the regular enrollees to a small, cramped, unheated room. No known image of George Gordon Snyder has been located but this photograph from the 1935 Devils Den yearbook was found in the Arkansas History Commission collection. Could this possibly be G. G. Snyder, he’s listed on the roster and he appears to be much older than anyone else at the camp?

In January 1937,  George was transferred to the Petit Jean Camp in Morrilton, Arkansas and writes: “I am very happy to state that here they have provided me with a large room by myself with excellent light, Since being here I have repainted some of the pictures that I had ruined at Devils Den.”  The Petit Jean CCC camp enrollees were world war veterans; they were a hard working group who made Arkansas first state park the jewel it remains today. They built the beautiful Mather Lodge, numerous cabins, pavilions, bridges, overlooks and trails. One of the educational programs offered to the veteran enrollees was  project of raising capons.

In March 1937 Snyder re-enrolled for another 6 months… he is happy… his work is improving and then he receives the form letter sent by Rowan to all CCC artists “We have just been informed by the War Department that henceforth junior enrollees 29 years of age or over will not be eligible for re-enrollment, and that the rule is interpreted by them as also applying to artist-enrollees……inform us immediately of your age…If you are not rendered ineligible by this rule I shall be glad to recommend you for re-enrollment to the War Department”

Subsequent letters between Rowan and Snyder now change; they become more personal. Rowan’s words are compassionate and his concern is sincere, he displays a protective nature and gives advice… Snyder’s letters seem rushed with missing words, the tone is one of urgency, almost desperation…the age restriction will eliminate him…he just bought new art supplies, paid some of his wife’s bills and he has little to go out with…he asks Rowan for more time…Rowan responds that he will keep Snyder’s letter in a pile and await the responses from all the other artists (which never happens) or until he is informed directly by the Army that Snyder is not eligible. This delay tactic gave Snyder another six months.

When Congress ceased the funding for the CCC art program all are officially informed that the program will close at the end of  September 1937 and the artists will be discharged.

Shortly before he left Snyder writes to Rowan and confid es:”I have a very definite plan for myself which I wish to carry out, when I leave the CCC. I want to locate upon beautiful Mount Gaylor, there, with a good garden and some chickens, I am sure that I can earn a living through the sale of paintings to tourist who travel No. 71 Highway, which passes over the Mountain.locating there I could further develop my art as well as helping in the community in createing (sic) more art appreciation, and stimulateing (sic) a greater love of the beauties of this country and its preservation.

 At present I have nothing to start with.” (2)

Around this time, Snyder sent his last shipment of 21 paintings, along with a list of their titles.

View From Lodge” and “Section of the Lodge” were among the final oil paintings G. G. Snyder created during his 2 year 9 month enrollment as a CCC artist.

He shipped them from Petit Jean State Park to the Treasury Department warehouse in Washington DC and considered these last paintings some of his better work.

G. G. Snyder was honorably discharged on September 30. 1937, the final day of the CCC art program.

During the summer of 2012, Kathleen Duxbury, a CCC artist researcher and author , embarked on a lower 48 states trek. Traveling in a motor home with her husband Gardner Yeaw, to research for the book: “Idle Artists of the Great Depression – A Pictorial Record of the Civilian Conservation Corps”.

Their travel agenda, two years in the making, was power packed with appointments but, an important stop was at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Kathleen was scheduled to be part of a team presentation which focused on the PWAP art of Art Clough, master wood carver whose magnificent carvings are housed in the Knight Library at the University of Oregon.  A portion of the Clough woodcarvings masterfully depicted the CCC. She was to join with Ken O’Connell professor emeritus in the U of O art department and Portland fine art gallery owner Mark Humpal, an Oregon art expert. Together they would lecture on the six carved cedar panels in the Knight Library.

Meeting for the first time a week before the presentation, at Mark Humpals Fine Art Gallery in Portland, they prepared for the lecture. When the meeting  concluded and all were reorganizing and packing their things Kathleen switched to a slide show of CCC art she had located… when the G. G. Snyder “Bridge Builders” photo from the Smithsonian collection came on the screen all activity stopped …Kathleen remarked “He is one of the artists I am drawn to”…  Mark immediately recognized the name and seeing the painting realized he knew of this artists work… Sixteen years earlier, Mark had purchased oil paintings at a Portland estate sale by G. G. Snyder; one was a landscape and the other was of a stone lodge with a unique chimney. After numerous, unsuccessful, attempts to identify the artist and the locations depicted in the paintings he had them conserved and then carefully stored them.

The collection of poignant CCC letters between Snyder and Rowan provided the source documents confirming that “Section of the Lodge” and “View from Lodge” referred to Mather Lodge, built by the CCC at Petit Jean State Park, and the oils, Mark purchased sixteen years earlier, were in fact art created by CCC artist G.G. Snyder while assigned to the CCC camp in Morrilton Arkansas in 1937.

Mark Humpal entrusted the two pieces to Kathleen and Gardner Yeaw for their safe return to Petit Jean State Park.

It took two months of RV’ing, with numerous research stops, to journey from Portland to Arkansas. On October 19, 2012, the oils were returned to Petit Jean State Park. Suitably the delivery took place in the Mather Lodge CCC Room. Those present were Kathleen and Gardner, Wally Sherrey, Petit Jean State Park Superintendent; Park Interpreters B. T. Jones and Rachel Engebrecht and  Richard Davies, Arkansas Executive Director of Parks and Tourism whose grandfather, Samuel G. Davies, was the former Superintendent of Petit Jean CCC camp and Arkansas’s first  State Park Director.

In 1937 Arkansas Director of State Parks, Samuel G Davies sent at least two letters to Washington DC requesting the return of ten George Gordon Snyder pieces for use at the park. It’s hard to know what transpired regarding this appeal because the offices administering the CCC art were closing and allocation was no longer under their direction once the CCC art program ended…or so it seems.

But the story as told to Mark Humpal by the woman running the estate sale… her father was a contractor who worked in Washington, DC…sometime in the 1950- 60’s he was with a crew working on restoration of the Department of Agriculture, there was a dumpster outside the building and in the dumpster was furniture, debris and art. He fished these paintings out of the dumpster… and 75 years later the request for the art of George Gordon Snyder to be returned to Petit Jean State Park in Morrilton, Arkansas was honored.

And what became of George Gordon Snyder and Carrie L?

They are last located in the early 1940’s…living in Bentonville Arkansas. He is 69 and she is 47 years old, they are self-employed on a farm, which they are renting, their occupation is: “Producers”- “Broilers” and George has a broken right hand.

George Gordon Snyder – Final Years



ID’s for last photo – 10/19/2012 -Standing in the CCC Room of the Mather Lodge in Petit Jean State Park in Morrilton, Arkansas holding  the  returned 1937 CCC art of George Gordon Snyder. L to R – B.T. Jones, Park Interpreter, Wally Scherrey, Park Superintendent; Richard Davies Executive Director Arkansas Parks and Tourism; Kathleen Duxbury, CCC artist researcher; Rachel Engebrecht, Park Interpreter and Gardner Yeaw, CCC researcher.


Research for this artist took many sources and help. Records found in the National Archives in College Park, Maryland and St. Louis, Missouri provided the foundation. They are CCC Camp Inspection Reports, Narrative Reports, Project Reports, CCC artist letters, Civilian Personnel Records, still photographs, CCC yearbooks and annuals. All these records span the years 1934 – 1937 and some are in Kathleen Duxbury’s personal collection. Some yearbooks were found in the Arkansas Historical Commission archives, CCC camp newspapers were found in the Devils Den State Park collection and the registration cards for WWI amd WWII and numerous US and state census reports came from online resources.

Special thanks to those who were part, directly or indirectly, for the identification and return of the G. G. Snyder art. Thank you Mark Humpal of Mark Humpal Fine Art Gallery in Portland. So glad you listened to your instincts when you thought to auction these paintings five years ago but, changed your mind. Whew, that was close.  Ken O’Connell of U of O, without your assistance and friendship none of this would have come together.  Kathy Flynn and Harvey Smith, National New Deal Preservation Organization and Joan Sharpe, CCC Legacy organization, your continued support of this research is valued. Whitney Mahar, Ashley Mattingly and Theresa Fitzgerald from the St. Louis NARA for your special efforts in locating G. G. Snyder’s personnel records, these were the final records that connected all the dots. Gene Morris, National Archives, College Park for always pointing me in the right directions. And to the many wonderful people in Arkansas whose suggestions, help and assistance faciliated the research and return of this art. David Ware, Arkansas Capitol Historian, Julienne Crawford, Arkansas History Commission,  Tim Scott, Devils Den State Park, Wally Sherrey, Petit Jean State Park, B. T. Jones and Rachel Engenrecht Petit Jean State Park. Greg Butts, Arkansas Director of Parks, Richard Davies, Arkansas Exec. Director of Tourism and Parks…Mr. Davies it was so appropiate that you were present to assure the future protection of the G. G. Snyder artwork… thee CCC treasures that your grandfather Samuel G. Davies requested, in 1937, be returned home to Petit Jean State Park.

A special Thank You to the people of Arkansas who approved the legislation that uses a portion of sales tax dollars to protect and preserve your beautiful Arkansas State Parks.

The George George Snyder art is not only home where it is truly appreciated but it’s future preservation is in good hands.

We are honored to have been a part of this and feel that George Gordon Snyder and the first Director of Arkansas State Parks, Samuel G. Davies, would be pleased.


Schedule – CCC Presentations

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) is now recognized as the greatest conservation movement in American history.

Please tell  your parents, your grandparents, a friend to come and share their stories.
Bring your older children so they can learn about the work of young America during the
1930’s Great Depression.     

__________ SPEAKING SCHEDULE  2013  __________

November 1 – Teaneck Library – “The Boys of Bergen – Remembering the CCC in Bergen County New Jersey“, Friday, 10:30 AM, 84 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ, website: http://www.teaneck.org/

November 3 – Middlesex County Museum “The Civilian Conservation Corps”, Sunday , Time TBA, Piscataway, (732) 745-4177, website: http://co.middlesex.nj.us/culturalheritage/museum.asp

November 4Harrington Park Historical Society – “The Boys of Bergen – Remembering the CCC in Bergen County New Jersey“; 7:30 pm; 10 Herring Street, Harrington Park

November 14 – Greenburgh Library “The Civilian Conservation Corps”,   Thursday, 2 PM, 300 Tarrytown Road, Elmsford, NY, website: http://greenburghlibrary.org/

February 14 – Thursday, Mahwah Historial Society – “The Boys of Bergen – Remembering the CCC in Bergen County, New Jersey“, 7:30 pm, Ramapo Reformed Church Education Building, 100 Island Road, Mahwah, NJ

March 27Hermitage Museum – “The Boys of Bergen – Remembering the CCC in Bergen County New Jersey” – 7:30 pm, The Hermitage Museum, 335 North Franklin Turnpike, Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ

April  18 –  Bergen County Historical Society – Thursday, 7:30 PM, Second Reformed Church, 436 Union Street, Hackensack. – BCHS website – www.bergencountyhistory.org

June 27Meadowlands Environimental Center – “The Boys of Bergen – Remembering the CCC in Bergen County New Jersey“2PM, Thursday, 2 DeKorte Park Plaza,  Lyndhurst, 201-460-8300- website: www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec

June 29- Tappan Library“The Civilian Conservation Corps”,   Sunday, 2 PM, 93 Main Street, Tappan, New York, 845-359-3877, website: www.taplib.org


2012  ________________________________________

August 8University of Oregon – “Stories in Cedar“, White Stage Building, Portland, Oregon.  The CCC carvings of Art Clough.

October 7 – Albuquerque Museum – “Idle Artists of the Great Depression – A Pictorial Record of the Civilian Corps“, 2000 Mountain Road,  Northwest  Albuquerque, NM 87104 – (505) 242-4600, 2 – 4 pm

October 25 – Pine Mountain, Georgia – “The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps” – “RATS”  Bluebird Rally, 7 pm


2012 Trek – South Dakota, Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park & WPA art

Heading west on Route 90 we crossed over into South Dakota and came upon the infamous roadside attraction “Porter Sculpture Park”. Visible from the road was the huge 60 foot tall, 25 ton sculpture of a bulls head (said to be equal in size to the heads at Mount Rushmore) it was only ½ mile off the highway, in Montrose, so we paid for a visit and met the artist/sculptor/poet Ron Porter.

The sun was high in the sky and cast a shadow on the “American Gothic” sculpture that depicts the hand of drought “grasping for anything”. Considering the recent news reports of widespread drought affecting so much of the United States, this light and shadow was unsettling.

Temperatures were approaching 101 degrees so we booked a 50 amp camping spot in the famous town/tourist trap of Wall, South Dakota.  Although we didn’t partake of the free ice water at the Wall Drug Store we were able to tour the Badlands early the next morning when temperatures were tolerable.

To our surprise, we discovered that there was a first come-first serve campground within the
Badlands National Park and in checking the power supply we found that we would have had more than enough electricity to run our air conditioners and saw that a previous camper had left behind their Canon camera battery and charger.

Next stop was the Black Hills National Forest, which borders Custer State Park and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.  There were several CCC camps in the beautiful South Dakota Black Hills and until recently the original structures of one – Camp Lodge, SP-4 in Custer State Park, was still in use by the Black Hills Playhouse.

Unfortunately, only two buildings now remain and the one used as the “Costume Building” will be torn down next year for safety concerns. These CCC camp buildings were never meant to be permanent and it is remarkable that they not only survived but their four walls continued to be protective and productive for almost eight decades.

Two CCC artists were assigned to Custer State Park – the first state park in South Dakota. Camp Pine Lake, SP-1, Company #1793 was located one mile north and one mile west of Mount Rushmore. One of their many work projects was building a dam that would eventually form Horsethief Lake, a public camping and recreation area.

 Sculptor Vaclav (James, Jim) Klimo in 1934 and wildlife artist, Morris (Moe) Gollub in 1935 spent a few productive months while at this Rushmore camp.

Klimo found it: “a perfect, marvelous place…I wander out into the hills, which are filled with huge monsters, weird faces stare out at you from great grey corrugated masses of granite that push out of the rolling hills, sometimes they remind one of growing things. There is something deeply religious about this place. The Gods of eternity seem to brood over the landscape…”  One of the pieces Klimo was inspired to make was a four-headed sculpture. (1)  When Rowan, in DC, received the sculpture he commented that it “is too extreme in expression for most people” but he would put it in a place where he could look at it from time to time; to try and capture the spirit in which it was made .(2)

Klimo not only met Mount Rushmore master sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his daughter but, he procured the hard to find plaster for his CCC sculptures from his Rushmore studio.  Klimo described the “murmur of drills at Rushmore” as pleasant, even if the “destroying hand of man had only defaced slightly” what was once a fine mountain” (2)

Unfortunately, no art has been found from these artists but we did discover what might very well be 1937 original WPA art at the Custer State Park.

When the Custer State Park Museum was under construction letters requesting designs for the relief models and museum displays were sent to the National Park Service,  Western Museum Laboratories, located at the Berkeley campus of the University of California.

“General public is keenly interested in the activities of the CCC enrollees working in the National Park Service Museum laboratories. This photo shows entrance to one of the several laboratories at Berkeley…”

This was a special spur camp, a separate CCC unit of men “chosen from various national park camps in the state and were given special training to fit them for the unusual work”. They designed and constructed numerous relief models, signage and other museum exhibits used in many national parks and monuments. (3)

CCC artist, Morris Gollub hoped the wildlife art he was creating would be used for exhibits in the newly constructed Custer State Park Museum. It is unknown what was displayed in the earlier years of the museum, which is now known as the Peter Norbeck Visitors Center.  After the building, by the CCC was completed, there were funding issues and discussions as to what would be of educational value in the museum, should it be habitat groups, conservation, preservation…it seems what was ultimately decided was displays on western history and earlier settlers. (3)

By June of 1937 arrangements and funding had been found to “appoint a technical service staff for the summer months”.  Student engineers, three artists, a geologist, architect, forester, draftsmen and a historian would soon arrive…and “most of these student Technicians will work on the exhibits for the Custer State Park Museum”. (4)

In 2000 there was a complete redesign of the museum displays, we were told that the old exhibit pieces were possibly in storage. Walking around the current exhibits, which are now habitat groups native to the Black Hills, conservation and history we spied several pieces of art, partially hidden in the back corner of the small CCC display. Hoping it was Morris Gollub’s work we asked Park Naturalist, Julie Brazell for access to it and their archives.

Thank you Julie for accomodating us during your busiest season, you are such an asset to Custer State Park.  And our appreciation extends to the staff and volunteers at the park, without your insight and park memories we would not have made the connection to the parks probable WPA art.

It was explained that this “hidden “art had been part of the previous exhibit which remained on display for 60 years.

While comparing one of the pieces, to the photo of the 1937 student technicians at work, there was a heart stopping moment…“This watercolor appears to be the same painting displayed in the 1937 photo… this is the the original art with good color, little wear…has it really be in this room, displayed for the last 75 years ?…is this Works Progress Administration (WPA) art?”.


Thank you to Peggy Sanders, author of “The Civilian Conservation Corps In and Around the Black Hills” for finding the CCC camp newspaper that documents the student technicians who arrived at Custer State Park, during the summer of 1937, to make the displays for the new museum. Other park photos seem to suggest that they were housed and worked in CCC type barracks.

Could they have been funded through the WPA National Youth Administration (NYA), as many college students were back then?  This is plausible because the NYA was a massive and popular New Deal work program designed to keep students in school. Did they stay in a nearby CCC camp, like Camp Lodge?

At the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in College Park, Maryland there are South Dakota WPA microfilm records. Perhaps the definitive answer may lie within these source documents and this rediscovery of the “student technicians” art is the foundation for future research.

We also visited the South Dakota CCC Museum, which is conveniently located in the Hill City Visitors Center  , 23935 Hwy 385. Unknown to us but, the timing of our arrival coincided with a presentation that former CCC boy Jay Henderson was giving for local park personnel.

What luck.

Connecting the dots, meeting those with the same interests and learning more about the CCC and the New Deal era…well, that’s what this research and trek is all about.



(1) James Klimo to Edward Rowan in Washington DC describing his experiences, inspirations and creations made at the Rushmore Pine Creek CCC camp during the summer of 1934.

(2) November 17, 1934 letter from Edward rowan to James Klimon in Mount Vernon Iowa, acknowledging the shipment of four sculptures. ( Authors note: Two of these sculptors would be included in the 1935 CCC National Exhibit)

(3) Letter June 29, 1934 , Herbert Mair, District Officer ECW to Harold Norbeck c/o Hon. Peter Norbeck, U.S. Senate Washington, D.C.

(4) CCC camp Lodge newspaper, “The Lodge Scalper” June 9, 1937, page 5 “Flashes From the Field

2012 Trek – St. Louis, Eldora & Mason City

The new location for the National Archives and Personnel Administration records center , 1 Archives Drive, St.Louis, Missouri is conveniently located off Interstate 270…if you are using a navagational system like the Garmin 460T (for trucks) or Microsoft Streets and Trips…enter Dunn Road. The visitor parking lot has a large spot that was perfect for parking “16 Tons”. To all the “Archive Specialists” who researched our multiple requests for CCC, WPA and WW I & II military records, we appreciate your efforts and enjoy working with you.  Within those source files we found several gems  that will support and better explain the “Idle Artists of the Great Depression” research. Thank you.

As luck would have it our route north was very near Eldora, Iowa. We were able to connect with Becky Rose from the CCC/POW Recreational Hall & Museum located on  the Harden County Fairgrounds during the annual county fair. What started out as her daughters 4-H project has turned into a major restoration labor of love for Becky; starting with a new foundation, windows and removing crumbling corn wallboard on the former Recreation Hall for the Pine Lake CCC camp.

The boys of the Pine Lake Co # 1752, called themselves the “Erosioners”, this was the Dust Bowl era and theirs was a soil conservation project. They planted trees and worked until 1941 making Pine Lake State Park a recreational area .

The original camp was not dismantled in 1942 because it became a German POW camp. During WW2 the “United States began taking prisioners… they decided to bring them to the Midwest for the following reasons:

* Ships were going over full, but coming back empty.

*Brought men to the food source.

*Provided a work force to harvest crops and work in factories.

*Prisoners saw how a Democratic Republic government worked.” (1)

Becky we applaud your hard work and wish you well with future efforts that will be required to save this CCC/POW structure from further erosion. It is so important that it be preserved for future generations, it is a gem, a part of our American history and an Iowa treasure.

Among the exciting stops on this trek are the ones where we find original CCC art. In Mason City, Iowa we found a fabulous collection. Thank you to Terry Harrison, Historian and Archivist at the Mason City Public Library for providing us access to the CCC art of Francis Robert White (1907-1986) and Tom Rost.

Although Edward Rowan, Assistant Director in the Treasury Department of Painting and Sculpture was not born in Iowa he lived, worked, married and had children in this “Fields of Opportunity”, “Life Changing” state. He became the hard working Director of the Little Gallery in Cedar Rapids…his efforts in bringing art to Iowa was noticed…in 1933 he was invited to DC for a
temporary a position in the Treasury Department that would administer the newly created Public Works of Art Project (PWAP).

In the summer of 1934, writing from his DC office, Rowan counseled the next Little Gallery Director, Francis Robert White.   Prior to White assuming the arduous duties at the gallery Rowan arranged for White to enroll and spend a month with CCC Co #841 in the Shoshone National Forest. White had requested to be sent somewhere remote, a rustic, out west location and found the routine at the forestry camp in Cody, Wyoming, rigorous and enjoyed the “natural hardships” he described the mountains as the most beautiful he had ever seen.(2)

White created outstanding watercolors, pen and ink pieces while there and Rowan was extremely impressed with his work, some of which would be included in the 1935 CCC National Exhibit in DC “Life in the CCC” which was opened by Eleanor Roosevelt.“who had a vision for what the arts could mean in a democracy.”(3)

When White completed his months time in Cody he returned to Iowa and wrote to Rowan in DC “I was kept very busy indeed. In order to get to the various points from which I made drawings it was sometimes necessary to make a full day’s journey, by car, foot, or horse back. I wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to view the country for anything. It has soaked into me deeply and makes me wish to return some time.” (4)

Tom Rost  (1909-2004) was a young Wisconsin art student who caught the attention of Charlotte Partridge, Director and co-founder of the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Partridge was greatly respected by Rowan for her “influence and teachings” which resulted in the “fine showing of Wisconsin artists”(4)

Rosts’ career began when he enrolled in the West Allis, Wisconsin – Honey Creek Parkway CCC camp in November 1935. He remained there for a little over  5 months and depicted, in colorful watercolors and woodcuts, the day-to-day life and work of  CCC Co #656.  In a letter to Partridge Rowan mentioned the CCC work of Tom Rost was very popular and his work would be included in the 1935 CCC National Exhibit in DC, the 1935-1936 San Diego Expo and one of his paintings was selected to hang in the White House, at Eleanors’ request. (5)

Rost found little or no work as an artist once he left the CCC and was one of the few CCC artists that Rowan kept a professional connection with.   In January 1936 Rowan writes “I should very much like to hear from you as to what you are doing at the present time…remembering the fine work you did in the CCC. I am anxious to help you continue your art work”(6)

Rost would remain associated with the Treasury Department art projects, he received the commission for three post office murals and would find work, as an illustrator, with Field and Stream magazine.   Some of Rosts’ CCC art can be found in the Smithsonian collection of American Art.


(1) Civilian Conservation Corps/Prisoner of War Recreational Hall & Museum, Eldora, Iowa brochure
(2) September 1934 – Robert Francis White writes to Edward Rowan that he has arrived at the camp and describes his surroundings.
(4) October 2, 1934 letter from Robert Francis White to Edward Rowan…sending in all the work he created while at the Cody, Wyoming camp and remarking on his personal experience.
(3) http://www.whitehousehistory.org/whha_shows/eleanor_roosevelt/theme_my-day-causes.html The White House Historical Association
(4) February 19, 1935 letter from Edward Rowan to Tom Rost at the Honey Creek Parkway CCC camp.
(5 & 6)  May 15, 1935 Letter from Edward Rowan to Charlotte Partridge


2012 Trek – Washington, D.C.

When researching the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) one of the better sources for information can be found at the National Archives Records Administration (NARA II) in College Park, Maryland. The best and closest place to camp is at the Greenbelt National Park in Greenbelt, Maryland, it’s less than 5 miles away from the archives.   The park entrance is located off the 495 DC beltway and, although it may not have the amenities of a resort type campground, it has “the location”.  The park is an urban oasis in a conjested capitol city with the added bonus of being within two miles of the Metro station; appropiately the Green Line will take you right into the heart of D.C.

Over their busiest season, July 4th, we were able to snag one of our favorite spots in the campground.

The day before we arrived, we followed the news and weather reports and were aware of the violent storm that had swept in from Ohio and created massive power outages in and around DC.

The NARA II was not effected but Greenbelt National Park had been right in the path of the storm.  We were shocked when we drove in and amazed that no one was hurt or killed by the sudden storm that roared up over the hill at around 10:30 pm, when all was dark, hot and quiet. The Park Service came around and warned all campers that a bad storm was approaching, little did they know how bad.

Days later power was still out in many communities in and around Greenbelt.

Our time at the NARA II was very productive; found original CCC art and lots of documents to support the research.  So it was not too disheartening that we had to leave earlier than expected. Our trusted generator quit, the temperature was 104 degrees, and we had no AC …  we headed to Hershey, Pa to the safety net of another Wanderlodge owner who just happened to have the part we needed and also the gift of some Hershey chocolates.

Thank you Shane and Kelly for the “new motor”, we are cool and contented as we continue on our way.

Bergen County meets the CCC

America would have paid a dear price in the form of human erosion if it were not for the CCC.”
James McEntee, 2nd CCC Director

During the Great Depression years the youth of America faced the highest unemployment.  In the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) they found work, education, discipline and a means to contribute.  The experience would give them a newfound respect for conservation and America.  Between 1933 – 1940 they toiled along the cliffs of the New Jersey Palisades and labored in the wetlands of the Hackensack Valley, which is now called the Meadowlands.

Until now, little was known about the CCC  in Bergen County, New Jersey.

The deeply researched story is now available; 136 pages of photos, first person accounts along with the history and legacy of what can still be found from the work of the CCC: “The Boys of Bergen” Remembering the Civilian Conservation Corps in Bergen County, New Jersey.


Multi-media presentations are now being booked for the end of 2012 and into 2013. Suitable for audiences from High School through the age of the current CCC boys… 88+ years and beyond.

The book edition: “The Boys of Bergen” is now available for purchase HERE and soon to be listed on Amazon.com