Special Exhibit At Shiloh National Military Park Combines CCC And African-American History

CCC crew members responding to a fire at Shiloh National Military Park. Photo from park collection.

A special exhibit at Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee during the month of February will combine two separate but related subjects: the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and African-American History Month. The unifying element is the story of Camp Young, which was staffed during the 1930s by African-American veterans of World War I.

The exhibit will run from February 1 through February 28 in the Shiloh Visitor Center, and will feature many rarely displayed photos and documents from the park's archival collection. According to the park's Facebook page, the exhibit will help you "Learn how these men lived, worked, played, and bettered themselves through education at Shiloh during the Depression. Also, meet their mascot, 'Bill' the goat!"

Shiloh's CCC Camp, known as Camp Young, was established at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, on June 27, 1933. Sixty African-American World War I veterans made up the initial membership. On July 15, 1933, these men traveled to Shiloh National Military Park and by August had built a permanent camp at the park.

The CCC crews worked on a variety of conservation projects at the park, including erosion control, fire protection, roadway and bridge construction, and the laying of brick walkways in the Shiloh National Cemetery.

"We hope this exhibit will give visitors a sense of how these men lived, worked, educated and entertained themselves, while stationed of Shiloh during the Depression," said ranger Heather Smedley.

In conjunction with the special exhibit and African-American History Month, the public is invited to a ranger presentation on the all African-American CCC crew and their work on Shiloh National Military Park in the 1930s. The program is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 16, at the Visitor Center.

A marker erected by the Tennessee Historical Commission along State Highway 22/142 near Shiloh also tells the story of the CCC Camp. The inscription on the marker describes the camp's eight-year history, and note that in addition to the many improvements made in the park itself, the enrollees "gained honor by evacuating victims of the 1937 flood."

The CCC exhibit is viewable during regular business hours, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm, in the Shiloh Battlefield Visitor Center. You'll find information to help plan a visit on the park website; if you need specific details, you can phone the visitor center at 731-689-5696 during normal office hours.