By Thomas Garcia: PNT staff writer
As time passes, much has changed in Roosevelt County.
Eastern New Mexico Univerity’s Greyhound Stadium on U.S. 70 between Clovis and Portales was quite different in June 1934.
“There used to be a camp, lake and shower house out at Greyhound Stadium,” said Joe Blair of Portales. “The men at the Civilian Conservation Corps camp helped to build and maintain that.”
The CCC camp had a designation of SP-5-N, otherwise known as “Camp Roosevelt,” which was located at what was later called Eastern New Mexico State Park, according to Portales Valley News articles.
At the beginning the camp was little more then a tent city that held 200 men. Around 80 percent of the men enrolled at Camp Roosevelt were from surrounding counties, one article said.
The goal of the camps, which were first established in March 1934 and set up across the U.S., was to provide an atmosphere where the young civilians could develop a brighter mind, stronger body and strengthen the ambition.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt focused his efforts on saving two of the nation’s wasted resources, the young men and the land, according to a CCC Web site.
Calling an emergency session of the Congress Roosevelt enacted measures to protect and cultivate these vital resources of the nation, one of which was the Emergency Conservation Work Act, more commonly known as the Civilian Conservation Corps, according to the Web site.
More than 50,000 men ages 18-19 years old were enrolled in 4,500 camps across the nation. The men enrolled in the camp were often referred to as “Roosevelt’s Tree Army.”
Among the daily camp activities were educational courses and phsyical education for the men. This included math, English, first aid, typing and engineering, according to a Camp Roosevelt Camp Report.
In the nine years of CCC operation, more than 40,000 illiterate enrollees were taught to read, according to the Web site.
Classes were not regularly scheduled when the camp first opened because of the lack of classroom space. Later, $25,000 in federal funding was allocated for the construction of a permanent building at the park, according to the articles.
The sport that was most popular among the enrolless at Camp Roosevelt was football. A camp football team played and lost to the Eastern New Mexico Junior College’s Greyhounds, according to the articles.
As part of their education and training in engineering skills, the men at Camp Roosevelt worked on and completed several projects that defined the look of the area.
Some of the buildings that were constructed, including the bathhouse and caretaker’s cabin, were partially funded by New Deal and Works Progress Administration.
Among the projects the men completed were construction of a large lake, planting 12,000 trees and construction of an irrigation system lined with flagstone in the sandhills, according to the articles.
“The men of the CCC had a large part of the completion of the Eastern New Mexico State Park,” Blair said.
Nowadays, providing meals for such a large number of men would be quite costly, but in 1934 providing three square meals a day cost between $70-$90 a day, according to the report.
“You could not begin to feed 30 men a day (now) with the amount of money they had,” Blair said, “Just goes to show how much different the times were.”
Portales Valley News
Emergency Conservation Work Camp Report
CCC Camp Information
Average number of camps operating in U.S. per year: 1,643
Total number of different camps: 4,500
Highest elevation of CCC camp: 9,200 feet above sea level in Colorado
Lowest elevation of CCC camp: 270 feet below sea level, Death Valley, Calif.
Camp locations: Every state in the Union, plus Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
Total cost: $3,000,000,000
Approximate cost per enrollee per year for food, clothing, overhead, and allotments to dependents: $1,000
Allotments to Dependents: $662,895,000
Number of people directly benefited from enrollees’ checks: 12 million to 15 million
Value of Work in 1942 Dollars: $2 billion
Miles of roads built: 125,000
Miles of telephone lines strung: 89,000
Miles of foot trails built: 13,100
Farmlands benefited from erosion control projects: 40 million acres
Stream and lake bank protection: 154 million square yards
Range revegetation: 814,000 acres
Firefighting days: More than 8 million
Number of enrollees who died fighting Fires: 79
Overall death rate: 2.25 per thousand
State parks developed: 800
Public campground development: 52,000 acres