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This self-guided tour will allow the travel to go back in time and / or memory to the days of the Great Depression when folks were hungry and jobs were few. Young men looked to the newly created Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as an opportunity to earn money to help feed their families. In creating the CCC, President Franklin D. Roosevelt saw it as a way to put such men to work and, at the same time, revitalize the country's ravaged natural resources.

It was natural that much of the CCC work centered on National Forests like the Hiawatha (it was then the Marquette National Forest). On the Sault Ste. Marie Ranger District (then the Raco District) are a number of CCC sites, including camps, work projects and plantations.

#1 - Three Lakes Campground, located off FR 3142. Men of Co. 668 at Camp Strongs constructed the first loop of the Three Lakes Campground during the early 1960s.

#2 - Camp Strongs, located east of FR 3142, north of Three Lakes Campground. Established in May 1933, Camp Strongs was the first quarters for Co. 668 whose slogan was "We can do it." By November 1993, barracks to house the men had been erected affording them an indoor Thanksgiving meal.

In addition to construction of Three Lakes and Soldier Lake recreation areas, enrollees at Camp Strongs planted trees, built roads and were responsible for hazard reduction, timber stand improvement and stream improvements. Co. 668 was divided in 1935 to form Co. 3609, which became Camp Sandstrum in Rapid River.

# 3 - Plantation P78 is located 1.5 miles east of intersection, south side of M-28. The red pine plantation on the south side of M-28 is being thinned for the third time since the CCC planted trees. The Norway Pine plantation was planted in the fall of 1935. In 1936, it cost $11.69 per acre or $12.61 per thousand trees to plant the once burned-over land. Wages were $1.50 per day.

$4 - Soldier Lake Campground is located off M-28. On the right as you enter Soldier Lake Recreation Area is the monument which marks the last dedication of the Marquette National Forest, which took place in 1931, the year before founding of the CCC. Driving around to the picnic area, you will see a log shelter that was constructed by CCC enrollees. It is retained as a monument to the work of the CCC.

#5 - Demond Hill Fire Tower is south of M-28. This tower is one of the four still standing on the Hiawatha National Forest. Today, it is used as an antenna base for radio communications on the Forest. It was once the heart of the fire-spotting efforts in the Raco area.

#6 Camp Raco is south of M-28 at the junction with FR 3154. Known originally as the "Lone Pine Camp," Camp Raco was the first CCC camp in the Upper Peninsula. It was home to Co. 667, which was organized in April 1933 with 200 enrollees from Detroit and Hamtramck. Official designation as Camp Raco F-5 occurred in the summer of 1933.

Work by enrollees at Camp Raco included tree planting, trail construction, telephone line construction, stream improvement, campground construction, fish planting and fire suppression. By 1942 when Raco was the only camp left on the district, its fire protection area covered 151,140 acres. After the camp closed, the facilities became a German prisoner of war camp during WWII.

#7 - Raco Work Center is north of M-28 on FR 3154. Today, the Raco Work Center serves as a field office for Forest Service work crews. During the 1930s, Raco was called the Norway Ranger Station and was district headquarters for the CCC.

Directions: From Strongs Corner, MI, West End: Begin at Three Lakes Campground, 2 miles south along FR 3142.

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Sault Ste Marie Ranger District

Visitor Information

Telephone Number: 906-635-5311
The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 all rights reserved.