The Creation of the Shawnee National Forest 1930-1938

originally titled - Birth of the Shawnee National Forest, 1933-Present

Part V: Forest Infrastructure

Acquisition of Lands

Acquisition of lands has been one of the most important activities of the forest. At the outset the acquisition examination work was directed by John O. Wernham and Eugene V. Phelps. during the early part of the program numerous group meetings were held throughout the counties concerned to acquaint local citizens and landowners with the purpose of the acquisition program, and to encourage the optioning of land to the Forest Service.

The Daily Register issues from October through December, 1933, several times mention such meetings. During the first several years of the forest's existence large examination crews were kept at work. Following the assignment of Messrs. Wernham and Phelps as Forest Rangers, the Acquisition program was under the direction of William E. Bates as Acquisition Chief-of-Party. Later, as the examination work tapered off, it was concentrated under the various Ranger Districts.

CCC Camps

The CCC Camps established as a result of the Emergency Conservation Act of 1933, have been one of the most important factors in the development of the Shawnee Purchase Units, inasmuch as a supply of labor had been furnished thereby that has been valuable in road and bridge construction, building improvements, planting, and fire fighting.

The camps established in December, 1933, were Camps Glenn F-1, Pomona F-2, Delta F-3, Eddyville F-4, Hicks F-5, and Kedron F-6. Camps Glenn, Pomona and Delta were on the Illini; Camps Eddyville, Kedron, and Hicks on the Shawnee. In August, 1934, two drought relief camps were established, known as Camp Cadiz and Camp Herod, both being on the Shawnee. A similar camp was established on the Illini in October, 1934, and was known as Camp Hutchins.

These camps were originally known as "DF" or drought relief camps, but later the D was dropped when the drought emergency was over, and funds for their operation were derived from the same funds used for operation of other camps. In August, 1933, two additional camps were established, one known as Simpson, on the Shawnee, and the other known as Union, on the Illini. Pomona was the first, and so far has been the only, colored camp on the Shawnee.

In January, 1936, the first signs of retrenchment in the CCC program appeared in the abandonment of Camps Kedron and Hicks. These camps were placed in custodianship, and Kedron later was razed. Some of the buildings at Camp Hicks have been razed, and the balance have been transferred to me Forest Service and are used for storage purposes by the Rosiclare Ranger District and as a recreation center.

Camp Glenn was abandoned in April, 1937, and Camp Simpson in May, 1937. Camp Hutchins was also abandoned in January, 1936, and was placed in custodianship for a time, after which the buildings were turned over to the Forest Service, and have since been unused. It will be again occupied in lieu of Camp Union in 1938. Camps Herod and Delta were abandoned in September, 1937.

Road work has been one of the most important activities entered into the Shawnee, and was prosecuted vigorously during the years 1934, 1935, and 1936. At one time, during the latter part of 1934, and early 1935, double and triple shifts were operated on road work.

Road work was originally under the direction of Lamar M. Wood, in connection with his activity as EOW Inspector. Upon Mr. Wood's transfer to the Manistee Ralph R. Williams was transferred from the Chiquamegon to the Shawnee to direct the road activity and CCC work in general. During the peak periods Mr. Williams had the assistance of James E. Smith, L. H. LaFaver, Henry G. Miller, and Richard J. Burke in road and other inspection work. Mr. Williams was transferred to the Superior National Forest in June, 1937, and was succeeded by E. D. Canatsey as Forest engineer. Mr. Canatsey had previously been Camp Superintendent at Camp Cadiz F-9.

When the Shawnee Purchase Units were established in 1933 there were, of course, no lookout towers, forest telephone lines, or kindred improvements in existence. Among the early towers erected were those at High Knob and Williams Hill on the Shawnee, and Bass Hill ad Fountain Bluff on the Illini. Williams Hill has the distinction of being the second highest point in the state.

During 1934 Construction of dwellings and other improvements were initiated at Williams Hill and Bass Hill tower-sites. However, in the press of road-work that continued through 1934 and 1935, small attention was given to construction of improvements until the spring of 1936 when a large allotment of emergency funds permitted extensive improvement plans.

In April, 1936, funds were apportioned and purchase of materials initiated for a dwelling, garage-woodshed, cistern, and latrine at each of High Knob, Peters Creek, Raum, Deputy, Honey School, Dry Hill, and Hickory Ridge tower-sites, and a lookout tower was purchased for the Water Valley site. At the same time plans were initiated for construction of a warehouse, office, oil-house, dwelling, and two-car garage at the Delta Ranger Station site at Jonesboro, Illinois, and similar buildings at the Big Muddy Ranger Station site at Murphysboro, Illinois.

This was the most extensive construction program yet undertaken by the Shawnee and required the better part of Fiscal year 1937, and part of fiscal year 1938. The offices at Jonesboro and Murphysboro were occupied in December, 1936, and February, 1937, respectively.

The Jonesboro Ranger dwelling was occupied in December, 1937, by Ranger Lucas, and the Murphysboro dwelling by Assistant Ranger James in April, 1938. Construction of the Murphysboro dwelling was delayed considerably during the early part of 1937 by labor and other difficulties.

Very little construction was undertaken during fiscal year 1938 expect the finishing of structures started in the previous fiscal year. Construction of a dwelling, wood-shed garage, latrine, and cistern was undertaken at the Water Valley tower-site during the last half of Fiscal year 1938. Lookout towers were purchased for Massac, Atwood Ridge, and Trigg tower-sites during the last half of fiscal year 1938, for construction in fiscal year 1939.

Pine Hills on the Delta and Bell Smith Springs on the Stonefort are two recreation areas that have been improved considerably since the inception of the Shawnee Purchase Units. The improvements added by the Forest Service together with the publicity that has been given them since 1933, has increased considerably the number of people visiting these spots during week-ends, holidays, and through the week.

The proposed Pounds Hollow dam, construction of which is expected to begin early in fiscal year 1939, is probably the largest and most far-reaching project yet undertaken by the Shawnee. It will provide an important recreational area on the Rosiclare District.

Public Relations
It is interesting to trace the increasing interest in and knowledge of Forest Service work on the part of the public, from the time the forest was first thought of in 1931 to the time that it was actually established in 1933. This may be traced through the newspaper comment on Forest Service activity that has appeared in the various newspapers throughout the forest area since 1933; the show-me trips that have attracted numerous people, and the attendance at motion picture showings, exhibits, etc., which deal with Forest Service work.

During the early days of the emergency work and just prior to establishment of CCC camps in this section, some of the newspapers spoke of the CCC boys as "campers" but it is noted that eventually they used the proper term "Enrollee".

The Shawnee has been fortunate in getting adequate and favorable newspaper publicity throughout the forest, in almost all cases. During 1935 and 1936 numerous programs over station WEBQ, Harrisburg, Illinois, were participated in by personnel in the Forest Supervisor's Office, and from the districts, and served to acquaint the radio audience with the purpose and accomplishments of the Forest Service. Enrollees and foreman from Camp Herod F-7 appeared in a local motion picture released in autumn, 1936. Through exhibits at city and county fairs, and at the State Fair at Springfield, Illinois, the work of the Forest Service in southern Illinois has been given broad publicity.

The Regional Office show-boat has visited the forest several times, giving motion picture showings at CCC camps, schoolhouses, and community centers throughout the forest. The Forest Supervisor and other officers have made many addresses before service clubs, women's clubs, schools, and other groups, both at points within the forest and at other points throughout the state.

Flood of 1937
The flood which came upon Southern Illinois in January, 1937, involved the Shawnee inasmuch as it was one of the first agencies called upon to assist by lending its man-power and equipment to aid in flood relief and rescue work. Many Forest Service employees, particularly those in Harrisburg, were obliged to vacate their homes because of the high water. The flood first began to assume serious proportions in this section on January 22, 1937.

At that time Supervisor Horton telegraphed the Regional Forester that rain conditions were severe, causing the Forest Service to vacate the Ranger's Station at Rosiclare, Illinois, train service being disrupted, and there being danger of the nursery at Junction being flooded.

The CCC camps within the Shawnee assisted in the evacuation and retreat from Rosiclare and Shawneetown; assisted in the efforts to save Mound City; and participated in raising the levee in Cairo.

In addition, the CCC organization assisted in the construction of refugee camps at Anna and Wolf Lake, and helped in Supply service at Eldorado and Harrisburg. Former Camp Hutchins F-8 was occupied as a refugee camp, and refugees were also established at Camp Hicks.

During the days the water was rising, and until the flood had reached its crest and the water had started to recede, the Supervisor's office in Harrisburg was kept open twenty-four hours daily. Several Army observers were headquartered in the office at Harrisburg during several days in the early stages of the flood.

The Forest Service warehouse on East Locust Street was used by the Red Cross as a food depot. Many of the Forest officers and forest employees aided personally in the flood rescue work. The aid of the Regional Forester was enlisted and shipments of blankets, first-aid kits, and like items were made to the Shawnee by northern forests, and were then turned over to such relief organizations as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

Following recession of the flood water, considerable maintenance work, chiefly on telephone lines and roads, was necessary throughout the forest.

NOTE: The foregoing is a copy of a portion of Atlas #10-Part 1 Form 130-R9 filed originally under "O-PLANS, Master, Shawnee" and presently (1983) filed under "1650-HISTORICAL FILE" in the Shawnee National Forest Supervisor's office in Harrisburg, Illinois.

Copied and reproduced per verbal permission of Shawnee Forest Supervisor Kenneth D. Henderson on April 1, 1983.

Leonard H. Farmer
Elizabethtown IL 62931

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Created August 5, 1996 by Jon Musgrave