by Ralph L. Hoyt Jr.
On June 5, 1933, the 118th Company of the Civilian Conservation Corps arrived at what is now Annett State Forest Park – at that time called “Camp Annett.”
The officers of the Company were: Captain Francis M. Flanagan; Lieutenant Paul L. Carroll; and Lieutenant Carr E. Benton, medical officer. Lieutenant David Mathewson of Rindge served there later. These officers were in charge of the camp and the 200 men assigned there. The men initially lived in tents. Before winter set in, six barracks were built, as well as a mess hall, a recreation hall, an officers barracks, and truck shelters.
The C.C.C. was set up in 1933 during the Great Depression to provide employment and training for young men, ages seventeen to twenty-three, in need of jobs. Basic pay for the men was $30 a month. They were allowed to keep $5 of this for themselves and the other $25 went to their families. They enlisted for a six month period; most stayed longer. Most of the men were from the Boston area. Kermit Winship of Rindge was a member the 118th Company. Detroit Hood of Rindge was a C.C.C. member but was assigned to a camp in Northern New Hampshire.
The men worked under the supervision of the Forestry Department. Forester Martin Ferry of Nashua was Supervisor. Ralph L. Hoyt Sr., of Rindge was one of the Foresters. He was in charge of the road-building crew.
The principle jobs which the C.C. C. did were reforestation, cleaning up existing forest plots, building fire trails, digging water holes for forest fire protection, building roads, and fighting pine blister rust. Some of the work done by the 118th Company was the road to the fire lookout tower on Temple Mountain, the road to the fire lookout on Highland Hill in Westmoreland, the swimming pool at the Adams Playground in Peterborough, trails up Monadnock Mountain, cabins and shelters on state-owned land, and planting over one million seedlings.
The C.C.C. did yeoman service in assisting in recovery from the flood of 1936. The most worthwhile part of the program was that it gave jobs to young men who could not even buy a job during the Depression. It provided security for the young men, an income, housing, and a chance to continue schooling with some vocational training. It also provided medical care, a good diet, and regular exercise. At the outbreak of WWII, the country had a large pool of partially trained men in good condition to become its first soldiers.
On May 7, 1937, Supervisor Martin Ferry received orders to close the camp (many camps were being closed due to cutbacks ordered by Congress). The camp was closed on June 11, 1937. The men were transferred to camps at Tamworth, Warner, Pittsburg, and Danbury- all in New Hampshire. Government property was returned to Fort Ethan Allen and the barracks were deserted.
Following the 1938 hurricane, the camp was reactivated and 190 men were transferred here from Arcadia, Rhode Island. The men, using axes and two-men crosscut saws, cleared trail, roads and fire lanes in the devastated forests under the supervision of the State Forestry Department. They had at one time over 800 cords of wood piled for the needy in the area. Logs for lumber were stored in several of the lakes and ponds in the area. This timber was subsequently most useful for building barracks in World War II.
Sidney Hancock of Claremont, New Hampshire, was superintendent during the second opening of the camp. The camp closed in 1940, the buildings were sold for salvage and torn down. The camp site is now the picnic area at Annett State Park.