HOPKINTON - Little was known about the Civilian Conservation Corps camps in Rhode Island until Albert Klyberg
did some digging into the Rhode Island Department of Environment's history
During his research, Klyberg, a historian from Lincoln, discovered seven CCC camps were located in the state, and there was somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 men working in the local forests and beaches from 1933 to 1941.
explained that the CCC
was started by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a part of the "New Deal" less than a month after he
was inaugurated in 1933.
FDR formed the program as a way to provide skills, work experience and education opportunities to young men between the ages of 18 and 25 so they could find jobs, Klyberg
said Saturday as he
gave a lecture at the First Baptist Church in Hope Valley.
"Aside from the conservation projects they were working on, these men could take classes and learn how to be electricians and plumbers," Klyberg
said "Some of these men could barely read and write so educating them was part of the way the CCC
helped these men become employable."
walked attendees through history of the camps and the projects the men worked on throughout the state, while showing them old photographs and maps that he
had found during the 10 years he
spent as the R.I.
Department of Environment historical researcher.
During the lecture, Klyberg
shared about some of the larger projects that took place within the state.
In 1936, for the 300th anniversary of Rhode Island, the men built log cabins and put them along highways at entry points to the state as information booths.
They also built numerous roadside picnic shelters so that people coming from northern Rhode Island could stop and eat lunch before heading to the beaches.
"Roadside groves were developed for beachgoers in the summertime who would park under the trees and have a family picnic on the way as a part of their family outing to the beach," Klyberg
"There were dozens of these roadside picnic areas until the 1960s, when modern transportation took over and many were destroyed to make way for Interstate 95."
Another project completed by the CCC
was Rhode Island Camps Inc.
, a summer camp for underprivileged children from the inner city, near Beach Pond in Exeter.
Klyberg, who was the director of the Rhode Island Historical Society from 1969 to 1999, first started researching about the CCC camps in the state about ten years ago when the DEM asked him to create a booklet for the 100th anniversary of the parks of Rhode Island.
Over the last year, he
worked to flesh out the story and last summer he
walked around the areas from Woonsocket to Westerly with his
camera, looking for remnants of the projects that were done.
found a few picnic shelters, outdoor fireplaces, and buildings still intact, but most have either fallen into disrepair or no longer exist.
Although few remnants remain, some of the state's parks and forested areas might not be so well kept today or even exist if not for the men who worked in the CCC camps around the state, Klyberg
"It's really an interesting chapter in Rhode Island history and one that receives very little attention," Klyberg