Life in the CCC at the Delmar Experimental Game Farm

Excerpted from Five Rivers: The History of a Special Place

The CCC Company at Delmar was named “Ruffed Grouse” for the work being done at the Game Farm, which bred, raised, and released ruffed grouse for hunters. The camp consisted of roughly 200 men, with five officers and seven foremen. The enlistees came from all walks of life, from dropouts and drifters to high school and college graduates. The foremen were World War I veterans or experienced woodsmen. There were also skilled craftsmen who instructed the enlistees in carpentry, masonry, electrical work, and blacksmithing.

The dozen or so buildings included five barracks, each containing forty single beds. There was an officers’ quarters, a post exchange, a recreation building, a six-bed infirmary, a mess hall, a blacksmith’s shop, a mechanical shop, a woodworking shop, a supply building, a washroom and shower building, and a large latrine. There was also a garage for the four or five state trucks used at the camp.

The small recreation building served as the main gathering place, with a snack bar and a ping pong table. The mess hall could hold 125 men. The food was good, the men always hungry, and their plates nearly always clean by meal’s end.

Conditions were not always ideal. “You never got a pair of shoes that fit you,” recalled one worker, “All of our clothes were from World War I.” The living quarters were Spartan, open-interior barracks with lines of beds. Three large pot-bellied stoves provided the only heat in each barracks, leaving them too cold for much of the year. The stoves burned soft coal and “you could taste it in your mouth when you woke up,” said a worker.