In the 1890s, the city of Chicopee purchased a tract of land along Cooley Brook for the creation of a reservoir, which later took place in 1926. Nearly a decade later during the Great Depression the area was selected for expansion and the creation of a state park by the Civilian Conservation Corps The CCC operated Camp 1156 in Chicopee, Massachusetts from 1935 to 1937. The camp that resided in Chicopee was near Cooley Brook Reservoir where Chicopee Memorial State Park is located today and housed about two hundred young men.
CCC workers conducted efforts throughout the Chicopee Memorial State Park from 1935-1937. In the final year of the camp in 1937, the young men working there spent most their time building forest roads and fire breaks. Within that year, the crews cleared fifteen miles of land, planted 500,000 trees, built five forest bridge roads, and removed two islands within the reservoir. Also, a fire lookout tower was built and five thousand feet of guardrail was put into place. Overall Chicopee Memorial State Park is a total of five hundred and seventy-five acres. The Civilian Conservation Corps was able to shape this land into a state park that is still used daily by many state residents.
After 1937 the camp where two hundred men lived was deserted and replaced by wildlife. The twenty-five acres of the former Cooley Brook Reservoir is now used for recreational purposes, rather than drinking water. The pond is open to the public for swimming and fishing. Other than the pond, the park also has five separate trails totaling seven miles long and can be used for hiking, biking, walking, cross country skiing, or running. Also, there is a large pavilion and five picnic areas with grills accessible near and around the pond that can be used by visitors. Chicopee Memorial State Park is open for recreational use seven days a week from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Chicopee Memorial State Park is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Before the Civilian Conservation Corps come to the area Chicopee Memorial State Park was nothing but a reservoir and scattered trees. Today the old reservoir is used regularly by citizens of Chicopee and other neighboring towns for leisure purposes and the forest has been turned into trails and paths that can be used by the community. While walking in to the Chicopee Memorial State Park it is like seeing a part of history where the Civilian Conservation Corps spent two years building and constructing a park that is now so extensively used. It is a peaceful area that has many recreational activities to offer to the public all year round.
“Chicopee Memorial State Park." Energy and Environmental Affairs. http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-west/chicopee-memorial-state-park.html (accessed May 9, 2016)."
Chicopee Memorial State Park." State Parks. http://www.stateparks.com/chicopee_memorial_state_park_in_massachusetts.html (accessed May 9, 2016).
Lynch, Jacqueline T. "CCC Company 1156: Chicopee Falls, Mass." New England Travels. Last modified March 19, 2010. http://newenglandtravels.blogspot.com/2010/03/ccc-company-1156-chicopee-falls-mass.html (accessed May 6, 2016).
Project originally submitted by Jordan Angelos on November 3, 2016.
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