'The best thing that ever happened' : the Civilian Conservation Corps and South Carolina's state park system /

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Mielnik, Tara
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Middle Tennessee State University
Prior to 1933, the state of South Carolina had no state parks. With the advent of the New Deal and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the state suddenly found itself able to use this federal labor and the guidance of the National Park Service to construct a system of state parks throughout the state, providing the genesis of a successful state park system today. This dissertation examines CCC work in South Carolina's fledgling state park system, including the experimental Recreational Demonstration Areas and Wayside Areas. Tangible evidence of the CCC, as well as other New Deal programs, in South Carolina demonstrates programs that changed the landscape of the state while these programs simultaneously improved the living conditions of the state's citizens. The dissertation synthesizes administrative and social history with architectural history to fully examine the impact of the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in South Carolina, both on the people and the landscape, and concludes that the CCC was successful in both endeavors.
This case study of the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the building of South Carolina's state parks demonstrates the impact the New Deal had not just on the lives of the young men in the CCC but also on other South Carolina citizens who found previously unknown recreational opportunities in the new state parks. In addition, the factor of race played a role in the South Carolina CCC experience, a role that while not always pleasant, benefited more African-Americans than in any other southern state. The seventeen state parks built by the CCC in the state retain varying degrees of integrity, although most of the parks still feature the CCC-constructed recreational facilities, paths, and other structures. The styles and types of CCC construction have continued to influence the rustic architecture found in the parks today. This study of the work of the CCC in South Carolina's state parks provides insight into the Issues of race, of state and federal relationships, of popular culture, and the of conservation ethic of the South during the pivotal Depression decade.
Adviser: C. Van West.