Navigating Camp Mercer | What was the CCC?

What was the CCC?

Driven by a sense of urgency to provide relief, recovery, and reform to end suffering created by the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in March, 1933. The CCC provided relief to over two million unemployed and their families.

Enrollees came from all parts of Wisconsin, were men between 18 and 24 years of age, and sent the majority of their pay home to support their families. By 1939, Camp Mercer had evolved into a community of more than 200 individuals, leading CCC efforts throughout the Northwoods.

Along the banks of the Manitowish River on June 21, 1933, the CCC established 660th Company S-79, or Camp Mercer. By 1935, Camp Mercer became the headquarters for the 5th Forestry Subdivision District, supervising nine Northwoods CCC camps from the Sparta District.

Wisconsin CCC camps were tasked with projects in four different areas: 1) Soil Erosion Service, 2) State Parks, 3) Federal Forestry, or 4) State Forestry. Camp Mercer was a State Forestry camp operated by the U.S. Army, with projects led by Wisconsin Conservation Commission forest rangers and focused on the protection and preservation of the Northwoods’ natural resources. Still today, the legacy of the CCC is visible in campgrounds, forests and parks throughout the region.

Camp Mercer Interpretive Trail Map Key

  1. Introduction 
  2. Ranger Garage 
  3. Construction of Camp Mercer 
  4. Winter Work Details 
  5. Spring Work Details 
  6. Summer and Fall Work Details 
  7. Ranger Cabin 
  8. Early Dynamite Shack 
  9. Camp Demolition 
  10. Main Entrance and Administration Buildings 
  11. Life at Camp Mercer 
  12. Evolution of Camp Mercer Mess Hall and Kitchen 
  13. Rec Hall, Canteen and Officer’s Quarters 
  14. Infirmary or Dispensary 
  15. Bath House 
  16. Educational Programs and Library 
  17. Athletics 
  18. Barracks 
  19. Tree Planting and Camp Mascots 
  20. Who were the Men Serving at Camp Mercer? 
  21. LaPorte Logging Camp 
  22. Concrete Dynamite Shack 
  23. River Feature 1 
  24. Bill Summers Beer Party Site 
  25. River Drive Logging Camp 
  26. River Feature 2 

Historic map of Camp Mercer Trail

Modern Map of Camp Mercer Trail

You can help protect Wisconsin’s historic sites: Stay on the trailway in the vicinity of historic features. Digging, removing, defacing or destroying historic objects, ruins, sites or features is prohibited. Photographing and exploring along the trail is encouraged. Thank you and enjoy!