Thursday, February 01, 2018

CCC, WPA & Erosion Control

The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps, established in 1933) and the WPA (Works Progress Administration, established in 1935) were efforts by the US Congress to employ as many people as possible during the Great Depression on projects that would provide long-term benefits to local communities. 

CCC camps were established at Rodanthe, Cape Hatteras, and Ocracoke after the great hurricane of August 22 & 23, 1933. The Ocracoke camp, constructed from lumber salvaged from the wreck of the three-masted schooner, Nomis, in 1935, was located near where the pony pasture is today. Programs on Ocracoke included digging mosquito control ditches, building bridges, planting trees, and constructing man-made dunes.

OPS Photo

According to Ethnohistorical Description of the Eight Villages Adjoining Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Interpretive Themes of History and Heritage, "on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, WPA projects included public works (e.g. road maintenance, mosquito-ditch digging, tree and bush planting), as well as food distribution (tubs of butter, beans, and barrels of potatoes were provided to islanders) and a textile center.... [Ocracoke native] Nat Jackson recalled the WPA men digging ditches, and Fanny Pearl Fulcher remembered a textile center set up at the Ocracoke School for island women."

Also on the Outer Banks, the North Carolina Beach Erosion Control Project was established under the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. A report in 1938 noted that "on Ocracoke we have encountered some of the most difficult problems of the entire project.... During very high Ocean tides the water flows over [low, sandy flats] in several places...." A proposal was made to dredge "a large dyke around the Sound side of these flats, connecting the dyke with a series of higher dunes....Approval was given but no funds were available."

Lack of funds may have been the result of local opposition to this project which was seen as creating an enclosed "basin" that could trap tide water, rather than allowing it to wash over the island.

Nevertheless, the project continued with "planting grass and some barrier dune building along the middle of the island." Eighteen miles of "sand fence" and more than 9,000,000 square feet of sea oats were requested for the project.

The erosion control project spurred interest in a national seashore. On Aug. 17, 1937, an act of Congress authorized the establishment of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Later changed to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area, the park was officially established as the first national seashore on January 12, 1953, and dedicated on April 24, 1958.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about Old Christmas in Rodanthe. You can read it here:  

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:00 AM

    Everyone that reads this blog needs to down load on their computer The "Ethno-Historical Description of the eight adjoining Villages..." Firstly, one has to ask the background and qualifications of the researchers, then ask how much money was spent on such a project. I was curious as the Textile center on OI so I downloaded this piece of work. I was not good a math but is 2.1 doubled to 2.9 million visitors?? That tidbit I came across searching the Employment section. Some of the observations in the report confirm my suspicions. The fact absentee landlord rental properties comprise many many housing units on OI sounds as if it is a concern to some residents. I extrapolate that vibe as, really does a community want it to get out that housing, vacant housing is available in a remote village..... According to the report, not all were willing to cooperate in the study --well I do not Blame them--I hang up the phone when callers conducting a survey want me to talk to them for free when they are getting paid to ask the questions and I am not paid to answer the questions. I will continue to research this "Textile Center." Any info is welcome thanks!