|President Roosevelt, 1933|
The goal was to provide jobs and to complete much-needed conservation work that would improve not only the land, but also the bodies and minds of the workers, as FDR put it, by “taking a vast army of these unemployed out into healthful surroundings.”
The Department of Labor organized the enlistment process, accepting men between ages 18 and 25, later expanded to 17 to 28, whose families were on the relief rolls. Enrollees were paid $30 per month, $25 of which went back to their families.
|Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) - 1941|
|A fleet of 40 trucks transported enrollees to the job site in the morning and brought them back to camp for lunch and in the evening, 1935.|
Camp Skokie Valley, established a month later on June 27, 1933, began as a tent camp near the marsh along Willow Road. But when the owners of the property requested a rental fee, the CCC decamped to county-owned land on Harms Road south of Glenview Road.
|Camp Skokie Valley Headquarters, 1938.|
|Camp Skokie Valley Chapel, 1941.|
|Inside the barracks at Camp Skokie Valley, 1935.|
Although CCC camps were under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, they were administered by the War Department. Since the Army ran the camps, life was very regimented. Enrollees at Camp Skokie Valley worked in three shifts, with the first truck leaving camp for the job site at 6:30 a.m. and the last truck returning to the camp at 4:50 p.m. The men worked about seven hours per day, five days a week.
|Enrollees found many ways to amuse themselves when not working in the lagoons, including organizing musical performances.|
|Volleyball (pictured) and other organized sports were encouraged by CCC leaders and enjoyed by the enrollees.|
As World War II progressed, facilities were need for German prisoners of war. These prisoners were incarcerated in the U.S. Camp Skokie, one of many among the former CCC camps in this country to be pressed into service to fill this need.
POWs at Glenview were primarily Luftwaffe air crews along with troops of General Field Marshall Erwin Rommels Afrika Corps. The POWs were treated well and generally content with their situation in Glenview. They were put to work on surrounding farms and orchards. This arrangement worked out well, since many of the property owners were themselves of German extraction and could converse with the prisoners in their own language. Being in one of these POW camps was very little like being in prison or a concentration camp. Many of the prisoners blended with the local community, drinking at bars and dating local women.
Some POWs worked at the Glenview Naval Air Station, including a contingent who were said to have helped build the Navy chapel (now owned by the Glenview Park District and located in the Glen). Nearly 400 POWs were based at U.S. Camp Skokie in 1943.
When World War II finally came to an end in 1945, there was no further use for the facility, and it stood vacant for nearly 20 years. Most of the old barracks and other buildings were demolished. However, one barrack building was preserved and renovated in the mid-1960s to establish Girl Scout Camp Adahi which has been razed in 2016.
Some concrete foundations and steps are all that remain of the rest of the camp that once played an important role in Glenview's history.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.