CCC Camp in Hot Springs, NC
There were about 200 young men at “Camp Alex Jones” (named for Col Alexander Hamilton Jones of Weaverville, NC who was a friend of the Commanding Officer of the camp). Most of the young men were from North Carolina although some were from neighboring Georgia and Tennessee.
The Camp itself was operated by the U.S. Army, but when the young men left the camp to work their 8-hour day, the U.S. Forest Service served as their boss since this group was a Forest Service Unit. The Pisgah National Forest was one of the first to be approved by Congress as a national forest and there was much work to be done in the portion that was in Madison County. They blazed hiking trails, built picnic areas—Murray Branch is still open today—and began manning the Rich Mountain Fire Tower.
Especially valuable was their work on the Appalachian Trail. The CCC men maintained about 60 miles of the trail in Madison County during their stay as well as relocating a section from Hot Springs to Waterville, N.C. and building 26.2 miles of new trail. And, of course, they built many structures some of which still remain. You can find a few (which have been renovated recently) on the campgrounds of the Hot Springs Resort.
“Of all the good programs in the field of conservation, few have equaled this. For much of the beauty we have today, we have those boys to thank,” Dr. Harley Jolley.
Information on this camp and the Civilian Conservation Corps program in the state was provided by retired Mars Hill College history Professor, Dr. Harley Jolley, who has written That Magnificent Army of Youth and Peace: The Civilian Conservation Corps in North Carolina, 1933-1942.