The New Deal and Fort Ridgely State Park
— United States Civilian Conservation Corps —
lthough Fort Ridgely had been a state park since 1911, little development for recreation had occurred. Under the direction of the Department of Interior, the National Park Service (NPS)
planned, designed, and supervised the work projects. For eight hours each day, five days a week, the men of the CCC
were "on the job" and under the direction of NPS
superintendents. Only rain and extreme cold slowed or stopped work.
CCC Begins WorkCCC
crews began work on August 2, 1934. The first work projects consisted of a park clean up and back sloping high-cut banks on the north side of the park entrance road between Nicollet County Highway 21 and the cemetery. Shortly thereafter the CCC
'ers did more erosion control, drained a swamp north of the highway bridge, developed foot trails, planted trees, and installed foot bridges across Fort Ridgely Creek.
Park buildings were started in early 1935 with all of the structures to be built of Morton Gneiss, a hard durable rock from quarries in nearby Morton, Minnesota. Construction was started but only partially completed on a latrine in the lower area, the custodian's residence, and a shelter when CCC
Company 2712 was disbanded. On November 1, 1935 the CCC
camp closed due to lack of funding.
Veterans Move In To Complete the Park
On October 7, 1936 the Veterans Conservation Corp (VCC)
Company 2713 arrived in Fort Ridgely State Park to complete the park. This experienced company of veterans came from Camden State Park, where they completed the development of that new park. Shortly after their arrival the VCC
quickly resumed construction of the partially-built picnic shelters, latrine, custodian's residence, and drinking fountains.
Feeling the restoration of Fort Ridgely was their main purpose, the VCC
, under the direction of an NPS
archaeologist, did the archaeological excavation work. Late in 1936, reconstruction of the old commissary was started with stone quarried from the quarry that provided stone for the original building. Upon the completion of the park projects in July 1939, VCC
Company 2713 again moved, this time to a camp in northern Minnesota.
All photographs courtesy of the
National Archives, Washington, D.C.
State Park and