Roosevelt’s legacy lives on with Civilian Conservation Corps projects


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In this educational trip, you and your family will learn about the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Florida state parks built by the organization.

During the early 1930s, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The Corps took young men from the ages of 17 to 28 and put them to work. The program’s purpose was to take unemployed youth and give them jobs in the nation’s parks and forests. The pay was $30 per month and it included housing and food. The base pay in the U.S. Army was $21 per month at the time. 

The program ran until the start of the U.S. entering World War II. The CCC was a successful endeavor. During the decade of the 1930s, the United States had fallen into a great economic depression. The unemployment rate had soared to more than 25 percent.

The CCC built eight Florida state parks and the one I suggest you visit has a great museum.

Highlands Hammock State Park is located in Sebring. Here, the young men of the CCC cleared the area, built roads, buildings, planted trees and restored the surrounding area.

The museum conducts tours where you and your family will learn about the CCC and the history of the outstanding park through interactive exhibits. There are three different films that can be viewed on the museum stage that feature the oral histories of former CCC participants.

The park also has an exciting and informative Alligator Tram Ride that operates Tuesday through Sunday. There is a modest charge for the tram ride. For information, call 863-402-0061.    

Highlands Hammock State Park is one of Florida’s oldest parks and is just four miles west of U.S. 27 on County Road 634 in Sebring. It is open every day. For information, call 863-386-6094 or go to highlandshammock.org.

There is a lot to see in Sebring. Located just off Circle Park and overlooking Lake Jackson is Sebring’s Cultural Complex. Here you can explore The Historic Society Archives, Highlands Little Theatre, Highlands Museum of the Arts and Sebring’s Public Library. This is a real nice walking area. Drive around Lake Jackson to enjoy seeing the many fine homes overlooking the lake. 

Don’t miss Sebring’s International Raceway. This is America’s oldest and most famous road racing track. You can visit the raceway at any time and you will usually find many club members racing their cars. A great view of the raceway is from the veranda of the Chateau Elan Hotel, where you can see the drivers maneuver the legendary Sebring hairpin curves.

Sebring is located in the region called the spine of Central Florida along U.S. 27. The lovely cities of Lake Wales and Avon Park are north of Sebring. Lake Placid is just a few miles south. 

Obtain a Sebring Travel Guide in advance by calling the Sebring Chamber of Commerce at 863-385-0911.

To get to Sebring from Brevard County, take Interstate 95 South to Exit 147 in Vero Beach. This is State Road 60. Go west on SR 60 to Indian Lakes Estates. At Indian Lakes Estates, take County Road 630 and 17 south to U.S. 27, then U.S. 27 south to Sebring.