Evolution of Dynamite Magazines or Shacks at Camp Mercer

This 1934 image shows Camp Mercer crews setting dynamite for road construction. Dynamite was used to clear rocks, stumps and beaver dams. 

This image from Sparta District Pictorial Review Company 660 Camp Mercer S-79 1939 shows blasting. 

This aerial photo of Camp Mercer shows the dynamite magazines. Early dynamite magazines were located on the eastern part of camp. 

This concrete dynamite shack was located at the westernmost part of Camp Mercer and is still standing in pristine condition. 

Northwoods Life, Growing-up at the Statehouse by John A. Christensen documents the Army’s and forest ranger’s protocols for building CCC dynamite magazines or shacks. The description below parallels the evolution of Camp Mercer’s dynamite shacks. 

The Dynamite House

This reminds me that there was always a shed we called the dynamite house. The first one was set into a sand bank on the road to the Point, not far behind what is now used as an office. It was painted a nice bright red, but not too elaborate a structure. Usually two or three boxes of explosives were kept on hand to blow stumps or beaver dams.

About once a year someone was appointed to blow the culvert in Stevenson's Creek up by North Trout, otherwise the water went over the road and would cause a washout. In the 1930s a more elaborate structure composed of rocks and cement was put in what was called the Pasture. That one must still be there. This was a safe location, but built too large. As the years passed the need for dynamite diminished. I think the building was done by the White Sand CCC Camp, although the Star Lake CCC Camp would sometimes send crews.

This 1937 Mercer Monitor cartoon poked fun at enrollees training for handling high explosives.