Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Unearthed film footage from the New Deal: The CCC restores Fort Frederick in Washington County, Maryland

(Fort Frederick. Photo by Brent McKee.)

The construction of Fort Frederick, in Washington County, Maryland, began in 1756, "at the outset of the French and Indian War," and was mostly completed two years later.  During the war, Fort Frederick served as a "staging area and supply base for English operations further west." During the Revolutionary War, Fort Frederick was used as a prison camp, and "thousands of [British] prisoners were kept there." In its third tour of duty, during the Civil War, Fort Frederick saw a small amount of action when "Confederate troops tried to dislodge the Union soldiers [stationed there] but were unsuccessful." (See Fort Frederick State Park History, Maryland Department of Natural Resources).

After the Civil War Fort Frederick fell into disrepair. But, like in so many other historic areas across the country, the New Deal came to the rescue. The CCC boys of Camp SP-1 Company No. 1353 restored the fort's walls, built structures around the fort, and even performed some archaeological excavation (although, according to at least one author, not with the greatest methodology). Today, with the help of that CCC work, Fort Frederick is a National Historic Landmark.

(The 3-minute silent video above shows the CCC boys of Camp SP-1 Company No. 1353 at Fort Frederick, circa 1933-1939. The workers can be seen repairing the fort's walls and digging for artifacts. The video is composed of a series of clips I pulled from a longer video, the quality of which was very poor. It is my belief that this film has not been seen by the public since the 1930s, if at all. For more information about this film, see the National Archives web page at
A typical day for the CCC boys of Camp SP-1 Company No. 1353 looked like this (from a document at the CCC museum at Fort Frederick):

5:45am: reveille [a bugle wake-up call], washroom

6:00: exercises

6:15 beds made, inspections

6:30 mess call [breakfast]

6:45 police grounds [cleaning up trash, leaves, sticks], roll call, announcements, sick call

7:00 everyone to trucks, tools gathered, prepare to go to job site

7:15 trucks roll

7:30 work

11:45 lunch whistle

12:45 back to work

4:00 return to camp, tools returned, etc.

5:00 assembly, announcements, inspection, colors [a ceremony honoring the U. S. flag]

5:15 meal

5:45 free time

7:15 classes begin

9:30 return to barracks

10:00 lights out

(The CCC built this structure near the fort, which now serves as a CCC museum. Photo by Brent McKee.)

(A display case in the CCC museum. Photo by Brent McKee.)

(Photo by Brent McKee.)


  1. I love the compilation video- I bet you're right that no one has seen it in 80 some years! That was hard, dirty work but they were glad to have it. Though of course we need it again, can you imagine what this country would look like if the CCC and other agencies like it had never existed at all?

    1. Thanks Colleen. I may try to get the film restored someday. The Living New Deal had a film from the National Archives restored and it came out great. --Brent