LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Civilian Conservation Corps In North Dakota

Earlier this week, when Jim and I were in Medora, we made time to go to the Chateau de Mores Visitor Center, to see the new exhibit featuring the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Chateau de Mores State Historic Site, near Medora, N.D.
Chateau de Mores State Historic Site, near Medora, N.D.

The Chateau de Mores is one of the premiere sites of the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and if you’ve not been there, I attest that it is well worth it. I’ve been many times, and a self-confessed history nerd, I always enjoy my visits.

From the SHSND website: “Located southwest of Medora, this site memorializes the life and activities in North Dakota of Antoine de Vallombrosa, the Marquis de Mores, who arrived in 1883. Among his enterprises were a beef packing plant, a stagecoach line, a freighting company, refrigerated railway cars, cattle and sheep raising, land ownerships and a new town which he called Medora, in honor of his wife.”

Working at the Visitor Center was our friend, the inimitable Karen Nelson, and it is always a treat to see her smiling face. Karen has extensively researched the life of Medora, the Marquess, and she portrays Medora for the “History Alive!” programs.

The CCC was a U.S. public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 for unemployed young men as part of the federal government’s New Deal program. The CCC built many wonderful structures all around the country, including the Rhame School gymnasium, where I played girls basketball as a kid. My uncle, Paul Pender, was in the CCC ,thus I’ve heard first-hand stories of those days.

The exhibits, photographs and artifacts focus primarily on the CCC in North Dakota. The sandstone structures in Theodore Roosevelt National Park are a wonderful example of the CCC’s, work and there was a CCC camp within what is now the South Unit. The SHSND worked in collaboration with the NPS for this exhibit

If you’d like to learn more about the CCC, the PBS program “American Experience” has a wonderful documentary film on the topic. There are also many very good books and websites. Meanwhile, if you are in Medora, do stop and see the exhibit. Thank you to all of the CCC members who created this lasting legacy.

Leave a Reply