The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Civil Works Administration (CWA), and Works Progress Administration (WPA) conducted extensive development work at Massachusetts’s Blue Hills Reservation.
Massachusetts Metropolitan District Commission annual reports detail the work of the CCC over time.
“In the latter part of June a Civilian Conservation Camp was established by the National Park Service for Emergency Conservation Work for State Parks in the Blue Hills Reservation near Randolph Avenue. The camp was in charge of U. S. Army Officers. The enlisted men in the camp varied from 212 to 145. The work of the men in the reservation has been handled by a civilian supervisor and eight foremen. Up to the end of the year 13 miles of telephone police signal lines had been repaired and put in order, 3 miles of roadside cleared of brush and fallen trees for fire protection, over 400 acres of forest cleared and improved, about 5 miles of service roads, bridle paths and fire breaks, and over 2 miles of foot paths built; some seven acres had been cleared and improved as picnic grounds with stone fireplaces and tables; over 1300 acres have been inspected for gypsy moth control and some 61,000 nests creosoted; and several new parking areas have been developed and old areas improved.”
“The usual work of maintenance and upkeep of the reservations, parkways and boulevards has been continued during the year. The veterans Civilian Conservation Camp, established in June 1933, has continued. The number of enrolled men in the camp has varied from a low of 140 in April to a maximum of 205 in July. Allowing for assignments to camp duties an average of 140 men have been working five days a week in the reservation. The rehabilitation of the police signal service system has been continued. Wire and pole replacements, right of way clearance and other improvements have been accomplished during the year on approximately eleven miles of the system. A shelter structure of natural weathered stone, 44 x 16 feet, has been built above the Chickatawbut parking area at an elevation of 405 feet. The parking area on Chickatawbut Road has been completed and the slope to the shelter has been improved and planted to native shrubbery. Construction of a 32 foot stone lookout tower now under way will complete the development of the Chickatawbut Overlook. Eight miles of truck trails and bridle paths and five miles of foot paths have been built. Brush, dead wood and debris has been cleared to a distance of fifty feet on both sides of several miles of roads and trails, to provide a better fire break and open up vistas into the forest. Six hundred acres of burnt and damaged growth has been cleared, and a thousand acres of forest has been scouted for gypsy moth control, and the nests creosoted. A decrease of sixty percent in the moth clusters indicates the value of this work in a similar area last year. Twenty acres of landscaping, principally at road junctions, has been accomplished during the year.
During the first eleven weeks of this year about 2,800 men were employed on Federal Civil Works Administration projects. Most of these men were employed in the Blue Hills and Middlesex Fells Reservations. A large amount of necessary work was accomplished in the various divisions, which consisted mainly of cutting and burning brush, removing dead and diseased trees, repairing bridle paths, painting structures and fences, drainage and grading.”
“The Blue Hills camp began construction during the late summer of a stone observation tower, generally similar to the one erected in the Chickatawbut Overlook development, on the summit of Great Blue Hill. The tower is the first approved unit in a development which eventually will include a 70 feet shelter with a massive fireplace, a wide terrace fronting the shelter, outdoor tables and settees, two sanitaries and a layout of paths with other necessary landscaping.
The two downhill ski-runs on the westerly side of Great Blue Hill, which were rendered usable last winter, were given further attention in the spring to put them in excellent shape. A six-acre ski practice area, accessibly located off Chickatawbut Road, was also completed during the year. The practice area was designed and constructed to provide slopes of varying gradients to enable the novice skier to bring himself along to a point where the more difficult downhill runs could be attempted. Considerable progress has been made on the construction of a cross-country ski trail which will traverse the entire length of the reservation from the West Quincy skating ponds to Great Blue Hill. The stretch from West Quincy to the ski practice area is now in sufficiently good shape for use this winter.
A program of improvements in the 600 acre tract easterly from Ponkapoag Pond, acquired from the James Estate late in 1935, was carried out. The police signal service system was extended into the tract to a distance of 1.3 miles and 2.6 miles, of truck trails were constructed to give access to the property for maintenance and fire protection purposes. A thorough scouting for evidence of ribes, the host plant of the white pine blister rust, was carried on during the summer in the new area and the rest of the reservation.
An intensive campaign was inaugurated during the fall, to run through the entire winter, to combat the growingly serious problem of gypsy moth infestation. A large crew of enrollees have been assigned to the work and it is expected that several million egg clusters will have been creosoted by early spring. A corrective treatment for white pine weevil, another menacing pest, was given to more than 15,000 white pines in the early summer.
The Pakomet Spring parking area was completed early in the season. This development, located on the easterly side of Randolph Avenue, provides an at attractive spot for picnic parties. The work involved consisted of the construction of natural stone entrance walls, suitable guard rails, grading and landscaping, and the installation of tables and seats. The spring was thoroughly cleaned out and rebuilt.
Other work accomplished during the year by camp work details included the rebuilding of two miles of police signal system, 3.4 miles of service roads, 3 miles of horse trails, six stone culverts at trail intersections, and sixteen rustic settees 493 man-days were expended on forest fire fighting and 100 man-days in searching for missing persons. A total of 35,850 man-days of labor were expended during the year on the seventeen approved work projects in the camp program.”
“The camp work crews assigned to the creosoting of gypsy moth egg clusters continued the work started in the fall of 1936 until the spring hatching period. The reservation as a whole was badly infested but the 1,200-acre section in which the efforts of the camp boys were concentrated demonstrated the value of such work in a very effective way. The construction of the stone observation tower on Great Blue Hill was substantially completed and construction of the adjoining shelter was started. The second section of the cross country ski trail from the Nahanton Hill practice slope to Randolph Avenue was reconnoitered by a skiing expert, and development of the section was in progress when the camp closed down. An additional three miles of police signal service lines were reconstructed and two sections of the line were placed underground in the West Quincy end of the reservation. About 15,000 pine and spruce transplants were set out in the vicinity of Buck Hill and water holes for moth spraying and fire protection were developed in suitable locations. About seven miles of truck trails and service roads were reconstructed, principally in the 500 acre tract acquired from the James Estate. The development of the Pakomet Spring area was extended to include a sizable picnic ground with tables, benches and fireplaces. About 22,000 man days of labor for the year 1937 were expended on all work projects at the time the camp ceased operations.”
WPA efforts in 1937 included:
“Blue Hills Division; 29 buildings of all types in the division were painted on the outside and 7 were painted on the interior.
Blue Hills Reservation; work was started in December on a project which will employ about 300 men for four months, performing insect pest control work for the elimination of Gypsy Moth infestation throughout the reservation. The principal items of work are the removal of dead and undesirable trees, shrub growth, etc., creosoting of egg clusters and the spraying of infested trees. The entire reservation comprising 6,700 acres will be worked over.”
1939 WPA project description:
“Blue Hills Division Headquarters, Hillside Street, Milton; to construct a two-car garage attached to Headquarters Building, to house captain’s car and police ambulance.”
"Annual report of the Metropolitan District Commission," by Massachusetts Metropolitan District Commission (1933 volume; pg. 3)
"Annual report of the Metropolitan District Commission," by Massachusetts Metropolitan District Commission (1934 volume; 3)
"Annual report of the Metropolitan District Commission," by Massachusetts Metropolitan District Commission (1936 volume; pp. 13-14)
"Annual report of the Metropolitan District Commission," by Massachusetts Metropolitan District Commission (1937 volume; pp. 18-20)
"Annual report of the Metropolitan District Commission," by Massachusetts Metropolitan District Commission (1937 volume; pg. 17)
Project originally submitted by Evan Kalish on February 12, 2018.
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