EAST TEXAS (KYTX) - During the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt started a program to find work for unemployed men.
The Civilian Conservation Corps built many of our national parks and roadways.
Sheriff JB Smith shows us what the CCC boys built in East Texas.
"Probably state parks wouldn't exist without the CCC boys and all the work they did," said Bill Smart.
The Civilian Conservation Corps boys came to Tyler in 1935 to build Tyler State Park.
"Tyler State Park known for its big iron ore rocks, came from different locations."
The land was chosen because it was considered poor farm country.
"The national parks and CCC program was all about tying people into nature; giving them that awe factor."
Bill, I see these rocks all over Tyler State Park, tell me about them? This is some of the handiwork of the CCC, these are hand-cut stones shaped by the boys, laid down to look as natural as possible."
The boys attended classes and lived in the park in their own camp as shown in this diorama.
"We have this building represented on the diorama, sitting behind us, this was the bathhouse used to shower in, use the restroom, with 200 boys in the camp."
Many of the structures the CCC built such as this waterfall in the middle of the forest and the bathhouse by the lake are still in use today.
Park store behind us had a dance floor, held dances out there, a lot of people attended those dances."
"Over 25 million men participated in the CCC in the U.S., they built over 800 parks and planted 3 billion trees," said Sheriff J.B. Smith.
The CCC boys left Tyler State Park in 1941 but the legacy they leave behind helps welcome 200,000 visitors from all over each year; making the park the largest tourist attraction in the area.
Bill believes their back-breaking labor will continue to stand the test of time.
"I just appreciate the overall beauty of nature they left out there, my job is to take care of that."
For CBS 19, I'm Sheriff J.B.
Smith, and that's my story.
The CCC built cabins, trails, roads and other structures at 29 state parks in Texas including Caddo Lake and Daingerfield State Park in East Texas.
Congress voted to shutdown the program in 1942 so the boys could help with World War II.