Historic Conservation Landscapes on Fort Hood, Texas: The Civilian Conservation Corps and Cultural Landscape Change in Central Texas
Stabler, Jennifer Anne
Sies, Mary C.
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The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was probably the most popular of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs. Many studies have examined the contribution of the CCC in national and state parks and forests, but less attention has been directed towards soil conservation work performed by enrollees on farms and ranches across the country. This dissertation examines cultural landscapes created by the CCC on farms and ranches in Central Texas that are now part of the Fort Hood Military Reservation. Cultural landscapes created by the CCC in the 1930s are significant because they represent large-scale federal government intervention into farming practices and planning on private land. Dramatic transformations occurred in both the conservation movement and on the land itself. This can be investigated through archaeological sites associated with activities of the CCC on Fort Hood from its period of operation (i.e., from 1933 to 1942). The significance of identified archaeological sites is evaluated based on the Secretary of the Interior's guidelines for evaluating archaeological sites for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Through the CCC, America's civilians transformed millions of acres of land across the United States from 1933 to 1942 in an effort to conserve natural resources that had been severely overexploited in preceding decades. Soil conservation and other New Deal agricultural programs primarily benefited land owners, but research on Fort Hood suggests that some tenants and sharecroppers benefited as well. Soil conservation work performed by the CCC on private land changed the way America's farming population operated their farms and included ordinary farmers in the conservation movement. Conservation was no longer the sole concern of academics, but through the efforts of federal, state, and local governments, became a major concern of ordinary farmers. This study also explores how rural planning efforts involved farmers in the decision-making process more than ever before. The reorganization of the rural landscape of Central Texas attests to the degree to which conservation measures were accepted by individual farmers.