We often forget how important New Deal programs were for unemployed workers then, and what a legacy they left for us today.
One of those programs was the Civilian Conservation Corps, which cut ski trails in New England (such as Nose Dive, above, which can still be enjoyed on Mt. Mansfield in Vermont):
From 1933 until 1942, the C.C.C. deployed almost 3 million unemployed men between the ages of 18 and 25 across the nation to plant trees, hew trails and build roads, bridges and park structures. Workers lived in camps run by the Army, were clothed and fed, and received $30 a month. Communities across the country benefited from new state parks and infrastructure.
The program also helped catalyze the nascent ski industry in the United States. Many New England ski resorts were built around trails first cut by the C.C.C. “In the scope of what the C.C.C. did, it was a real drop in the bucket,” said Jeff Leich, director of the New England Ski Museum. “And yet you think about Cannon, Wildcat, Stowe and what that’s meant for the economy of the region.” The winter tourism industry they helped spawn remains an important source of revenue throughout Vermont, New Hampshire and the Berkshires.
I’m now going to have to go in search of some of those trails.