Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

CCC Boys and Their Legacy at Shenandoah National Park


Les Wawner, a CCC "Boy" who worked at Camp Fechner during the late 1930s.

©Bert Gildart: “I was living in the back of an old Model T that had all the windows broken out. I had to steal a blanket from a moving van to keep warm at night.”

That’s what Les Wawner told us this past Saturday, and his plight was probably typical of the men who sought relief from economic hardships by joining the CCC Camp here in Shenandoah National Park.

We met Les at Skyland Lodge (in Shenandoah about Mile 41) where interpreters at Shenandoah were holding a reunion for the old CCC Boys. Not many are left, but those who did show are representative of a generation who survived desperate times by virtue of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” The program began the year Roosevelt assumed presidency and was initiated in 1933 –  and was part of his New Deal. According to FDR the work  program was need as:  “A New Deal to rebuild a nation.”


The old CCC camp here in Shenandoah (Also see: Hoover Camp for more on the park) was called Camp Fechner, and it is located abut a mile from Big Meadows, where Adam and Sue Maffei, Janie and I are currently camped in our respective Airstreams. The old camp has served many purposes. In addition to being the setting for a large CCC camp, in 1933 it also provided the  location from which President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated this rugged section of the Blue Ridge Mountains as Shenandoah National Park.

We were all interested in the reunion and attended a part of the program, enough to visit with several of the “old boys,” most of who are now in their 90s.


CLICK TO SEE LARGER IMAGES. L to R: PATC Cabin; Mill Prong, which provides access to old Hoover Cabin; Adam Maffei hiking trail to Dark Hollow.

Soon, we’ll be able to explore more of the conditions under which they worked for the park service will be installing interpretive posts in Big Meadows and will be providing “virtual tours” of the camp.


The “Boys” worked hard and because of the program, those of us who love to hike and drive through beautiful country can do so easily in Shenandoah (and many other national parks as well!), for the boys built the trails over which we have recently hiked and the Skyline road over which we have driven often these past few weeks.


Adam Maffei along trail to Dark Hollow Falls


The park promises that the new interpretive post and their virtual program will fill gaps from this important component of Shenandoah’s history. In the meantime, pictures accompanying this blog are intended to show areas now accessible because of the work initially provided by men such as Les Wawner.




Airstream and First 100,000 Miles


One Response to “CCC Boys and Their Legacy at Shenandoah National Park”

  1. Tom & Sandi Palesch Says:

    As we travel the Parks across the country as you and Janie do it’s amazing at the number of CCC sites we come across. Most are still magnificent and very needed for others to fully enjoy the attraction. Stone fireplaces, steps, trail clearing, picnic areas all done more than a half-century ago and still functional.

    The CCC program “took full advantage of a crisis” and became a “win win” situation. America was served well as were its citizens and the young men and women “did well” for themselves by doing “good” for their country.

    It did much more than “employ” them. It turned them into citizens!

    With unemployment being what it is today for young men and women, it might do us all some good once again to dust off this program and reinitiate it. There are still many projects that need to be done and not necessarily by “private contractors.”