Fort Pulaski, Bacon Park to Mark Public Lands Day The Volunteer Initiative Honors the Work That Was Begun By the CCC.
By CHUCK MOBLEY
SAVANNAH – Now a postcard-perfect site that attracts thousands of tourists, Fort Pulaski National Monument was rescued from decades of neglect by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a Depression-era heritage that will be extolled today as Savannah celebrates National Public Lands Day.
The fort, a massive brick edifice that has guarded the entrance to Savannah since the mid-19th century, was in a sad state of repair when CCC volunteers arrived in 1934.
Over the next several years, CCC Camp 460 cleared about 100 acres of forest, rebuilt Cockspur Island’s dike system, dug canals and ditches, cleared the fort’s parade ground, and returned its moat to working order.
Charles Fenwick, superintendent of Fort Pulaski, said this year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the CCC and that National Public Lands Day carries on the spirit of those workers.
Activities also will take place at Bacon Park.
Begun in 1994, this one-day initiative brings thousands of volunteers to parks, forts and other sites across the nation. This is the fourth year Fort Pulaski has taken part.
In earlier efforts, participants extended the McQueen’s Island Rails to Trail path, repainted the Cockspur Island Lighthouse, and built bridges along the island overlook trail.
This year, Fenwick hopes to paint the bridge across the south channel of the Savannah River, spread mulch along the trail extension, and plant trees.
Other CCC Camp 460 accomplishments will be recognized at Bacon Park, another Depression-era work site.
Robert Fechner, the CCC director, began shifting resources from Fort Pulaski to Bacon Park in 1937, said Elizabeth Scott, executive director of the Bacon Park Neighborhood Association.
Scott said she hopes 200 or more people will show up today to participate in the programs at Bacon Park.
The CCC camp barracks were located where Southside Baptist Church now sits on Skidaway Road, and the 200 or so men assigned there built two golf courses and made other improvements.
Today’s programs are important, Scott said, because they provide a direct link to the CCC and the men who worked at places such as Bacon Park and Fort Pulaski.
“It’s time to recognize them and their efforts,” she said.
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