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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
East Lake in Aitkin County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

From Railroad Tracks to Refuge Road

 
 
From Railroad Tracks to Refuge Road Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By McGhiever, September 29, 2022
1. From Railroad Tracks to Refuge Road Marker
Inscription.  The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), what began as a Depression era work program, became an important building block to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Refuge System. In 1939, seven thousand Corps participants worked at 35 camps in 27 states and helped create 53 new national wildlife refuges.

The CCC housed their workers in large camps that helped change barren land into vibrant wildlife areas. Workers improved wildlife habitat by constructing nesting islands and planting vegetation for marshes and forests. The workers also constructed fire lookout towers, roads and service buildings, making refuge management easier for refuge managers and safer for wildlife. The CCC was instrumental in making improvements to wildlife conservation efforts in the U.S.

Nationally, during its nine year existence, more than 3,000,000 young men, primarily between the ages of 18 and 26, enrolled in the CCC. The enrollment period was for six months, although many re-enlisted when their six months were up. They were paid $30 a month, $25 of that was sent directly to the men's families. The enrollment peaked in 1935, when
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there were 500,000 men in 2,600 camps located in every state of the Union. These young men created the infrastructure for valuable national treasures – wildlife refuges and national parks. CCC work also benefited wildlife on land administered by other land management agencies such as the Office of Indian Affairs, the Division of Grazing and the Bureau of Reclamation.

From 1933 to 1942, eight million acres were acquired for wildlife and conservation usage. The Corps played a vital role in converting previously unused land to valuable wildlife habitat. Though most of the CCC camps no longer exist, the legacy of the workers lives on in the wildlife refuges and national parks they helped create. The CCC camp at Rice Lake was dismantled in 1941, but the effects of the camp live on today.

[Caption:] The Rice Lake CCC camp (#2705), constructed in 1939 and dismantled in 1941, was home to 200 young men. One of the first projects the workers took on was to remove railroad tracks laid to transport virgin timber to local sawmills and to convert it into a road. The Refuge's main entrance road and part of the Wildlife Drive follow the old railroad.
 
Erected by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Animals
Markers on kiosk at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge image. Click for full size.
Photographed By McGhiever, September 29, 2022
2. Markers on kiosk at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Parks & Recreational AreasRailroads & StreetcarsRoads & Vehicles. In addition, it is included in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1939.
 
Location. 46° 32.269′ N, 93° 17.066′ W. Marker is in East Lake, Minnesota, in Aitkin County. Marker is at the intersection of 363rd Lane and Minnesota Route 65, on the right when traveling west on 363rd Lane. Marker is in Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge, on an interpretive kiosk on the edge of the visitor center parking lot. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 36289 State Highway 65, McGregor MN 55760, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 3 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Mandy Lake (approx. 2˝ miles away); CCC Camp 2705 (approx. 3.1 miles away); Glacial Lake Aitkin / Peat (approx. 4.9 miles away).
 
Home of the Blue Goose Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By McGhiever, September 29, 2022
3. Home of the Blue Goose Marker
Jay N. "Ding" Darling designed the goose logo for national wildlife refuges while director of the U.S. Biological Survey, forerunner of the Fish and Wildlife Service, from 1934-1935. A Pulitzer-Prize-winning political cartoonist, he also drew the first Federal Duck Stamp.

Look for the goose on refuge signs and brochures; it represents special places where wildlife comes first.

[Caption:] Original, black goose by "Ding" Darling.

Although the goose can be blue or black, blue is the color of choice.

Wherever you meet this sign, respect it. It means that the land behind the sign has been dedicated by the American people to preserving, for themselves and their children, as much of our native wildlife as can be retained along with our modern civilization.

-Rachel Carson, Fish & Wildlife Service employee from 1939-1952 and author of Silent Spring
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 22, 2022. It was originally submitted on November 12, 2022, by McGhiever of Minneapolis, Minnesota. This page has been viewed 130 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on November 12, 2022, by McGhiever of Minneapolis, Minnesota. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 12, 2024