This is one of the many campsites used by the men of the Civilian Conservation Corp while they worked to make Cheaha State Park what it is today. During their time up there, some of their work included: hand digging Cheaha Lake, building a dam, pavilions, the lake bath house, and replanting trees within the park. There is now a museum located at Bunker Tower to honor the men who worked in the park, and if you ever visit the area, be sure to stop by and hear about the park’s history.
Let’s take a trip back in time to the 1930’s. You think things are tough at times now, back then it was the era of The Great Depression. People were out of work and desperately needed to provide for their families. President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted what was called The New Deal, which provided what historians called the “3 R’s”: Relief, Recovery, and Reform. Within this New Deal came the Civilian Conservation Corp, a public work relief program.
During their roughly 4 years here in Alabama, the CCC strung more than 1,800 miles of telephone lines, built more than 3,000 miles of roads and truck trails, planted 6,000 trees, and built 659 bridges of various types, along with draining swamps and other work.
In addition to these projects, three CCC Companies-the 465th, 468th, and 2420th-worked to build Cheaha State Park. According to park history, the years 1933 to 1942 saw a joint effort by the state and National Park Systems that allowed the CCC to construct 11 stone cabins, two stone pavilions, Bunker Tower, the Bald Rock Group Lodge, along with the hand dug lake and bath house mentioned earlier.
The park “officially” opened to the public in 1939 and is the oldest continuously operating state park in Alabama and is also one of the most visited spots in the state, and for good reason. It is the highest point in Alabama with an elevation of 2,407 feet above sea level!! Since it’s very humble beginnings, the park has allowed many of the fire prevention trails to double has hiking trails, added a playground, over 70 campsites, bike trails, and improved the lake for swimming and fishing. As a matter of fact, Hwy 281, the main road going up to Cheaha, has been home to the Cheaha Challenge, a grueling pedal bike race that begins in Jacksonville, Alabama, which is over 30 miles to the north, and makes its way up to the park and back to Jacksonville. This event hosts the Chief Ladiga Family Cruise (24 miles), the Century Race (100 miles), and the Ultra Race (125 miles). This year (2017) the Cheaha Challenge Century Race was accepted as THE ONLY bike race in the United States to be the qualifying race for the Gran Fondo held in France and ultimately to compete for the World Champion Tour de France. This is an event that ham operators from all over this region sign up for and work every year.
CCC SPECIAL EVENT October 28th, 2017 UTC 1200 (7am CDT) – UTC 2400 (7pm CDT)
In honor of the hard work and dedication that the men of the CCC put in to make Cheaha State Park what it is today, we will conduct The Cheaha State Park/CCC Radio Event. We will be operating from the Redbud Pavilion, which is down the hill past Bunker Tower. This pavilion, coincidentally, was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1935. So, it is fitting that we make our QSO’s from one of the structures built by these young men. Without the blood, sweat, and tears given by the men of the CCC, we would not have this beautiful park to come to and enjoy throughout the year. We plan to operate on 20m between 14.240-14.250 and 40m between 7.240-7.250 depending on band conditions and availability. If you do not find us in either location, keep searching the band, we’ll be around. We are possibly going to be running digital modes as well. We hope to have the pleasure of working on the air. 73 Shawn Campbell N4BAT