From the iconic boathouse at Backbone, to the spillway at Beeds Lake, to the varied and beautiful stone lodges and shelters within so many of our parks, we owe a debt of gratitude to the men of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Celebrate the CCC’s anniversary, March 31, by learning about these stand-out examples of CCC projects in Iowa.
In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt founded the CCC to help fight the Great Depression and the urgent need to employ young men. Nationwide, more than 2.5 million men enrolled in the Corps. Iowa had more than 46,000 enrolled when the program discontinued at the start of U.S. involvement in World War II.
Iowa CCC men worked on conservation and construction projects in more than 80 state parks, and the legacy of these men can still be seen today. Although it’s hard to choose from the many state parks with CCC structures, here are eight of the best from around the state:
Northeast Iowa: Backbone
Backbone, Iowa's first state park, has the most concentration of CCC work to be found in one park, including trails, cabins, tree plantings and classic stone and timber structures. The beach building has been converted to a rental lodge and the nearby boathouse is among the park’s most recognizable feature. Backbone also houses the CCC museum.
North Central Iowa - Beeds Lake
Like Backbone, Beeds Lake has a beautiful beach building conversion for rent, but the most unique CCC feature of the park is its spillway.
Central Iowa – Ledges and Lake Ahquabi
Ledges' stone arch bridge, Oak Woods and Lower Ledges shelters, and stone trail steps are must sees, as are Lake Ahquabi’s renovated beach shelter and stone lodge, both overlooking the lake.
Southwest Iowa - Lake of Three Fires
The renovated lodge located near the beach and open picnic shelters are vintage CCC.
Northwest Iowa - Gull Point and Mini-Wakan
The beautiful stone and timber lodges at both of these parks are key CCC features.
Southeast Iowa – Lake Wapello
Lake Wapello has the largest and arguably one of the most beautiful beach house facilities in the state park system.
To learn more about these beautiful CCC structures (many of them reserveable lodges and shelters), check out our Iowa State Parks and Iowa State Park Lodges and Shelters boards on Pinterest.
For more information about the CCC in Iowa, visit https://www.iowadnr.gov/Destinations/StateParksRecAreas/CivilianConservationCorps.aspx