The 1920s were
generally a time of prosperity throughout the United States. The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaked at
381.17 on September 3, 1929 but during September and October stock prices began
to slip. Then on just two days, October
28 and 29, the Dow dropped nearly 70 points.
October 29, 1929 is known as Black Tuesday and often associated with the
beginning of the Great Depression. During
the early 1930s unemployment reached 25%.
Those who did have jobs saw their wages severely reduced.
Roosevelt became President in January 1933 he instituted numerous projects and
programs, known as the New Deal, to aid in stabilizing the economy and provide
jobs. The leading program under
Roosevelt’s New Deal was the Civilian Conservation Corps, popularly known as
the CCC. The work relief program
provided thousands of manual labor jobs for unemployed, unmarried men from
17-28 years of age.
|John’s Rock Camp
An April 20, 1933
Transylvania Times article states that a CCC camp will be built at John’s Rock
on the Davidson River for over 200 men.
The men enlisted for six months initially. They were paid $1 a day and provided
subsistence. The camp officially opened
on May 20, 1933.
|Balsam Grove Camp
On June 22, 1933 a second Transylvania
County CCC camp opened in Balsam Grove.
It was located on Shoal Creek Road, just above the Gloucester Bridge. After the John’s Rock Camp closed in
January 1938 the Balsam Grove Camp relocated to John’s Rock in June 1938.
The John’s Rock and Balsam Grove
camps were both U.S. Forest Service camps.
There were a total of nine CCC camps located in the Pisgah National
Forest, plus additional camps in the Nantahala National Forest and Great Smoky
The work included planting
thousands of trees where lumbering had left bare mountainsides. Hundreds of miles of roads, along with
bridges and culverts, were built throughout the forest. Trails and fire lookout towers were also
The first group of men
selected from Transylvania County to join the CCC was assigned to a camp near Barnardsville. Older men from Transylvania County were
employed to serve as foremen and supervisors at the John’s Rock and Balsam
|Toxaway Mountain Cabin and Lookout Tower
On July 9, 1935 Camp Sledge
from the North Wilkesboro area was relocated to Transylvania County. The camp was located on the north side of
Brevard, near the present day Blue Ridge Community College. This was a private lands camp. They worked on projects in Henderson,
Jackson, Polk and Transylvania counties, including work on the Horse Pasture
Watershed and construction of a fire lookout tower and cabin on Toxaway
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit
the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about
our history and see additional photographs.
For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected] or 828-884-3151 X242.