Reforestation — To Tame the Grand River

In 1933, recruiting Daviess County’s reforestation army was coming to an end with the recruiting number being filled. Seven of the boys would go from Gallatin, but no word had been received as to when the other 30 boys would arrive. To be designated, they would make a trip to the examination point in a truck.

In 1933, recruiting Daviess County’s reforestation army was coming to an end with the recruiting number being filled. Seven of the boys would go from Gallatin, but no word had been received as to when the other 30 boys would arrive. To be designated, they would make a trip to the examination point in a truck.

Young men signed up to work for six months. They would be paid a dollar a day and everything furnished. Of the $30 dollars earned, $25 would be sent home to their dependents. To qualify young men unmarried and between the ages of 18 and 25 and have dependents.

The Reforestation Program was more than just replanting trees. One of the largest projects undertaken, and  one the government would not undertake in normal times, was flood control of the Grand River.

Daviess County was one of the 11 counties affected by the river and its tributaries. Not only had the river been a source of floods, taking it’s toll on both residential and farm lands, but the war department engineers recognized it as one of the rivers contributing to the flood troubles of the lower Mississippi River area. These army engineers estimated 273 miles of levees would be required to curb the river in flood times, and force of from 3,000 to 5,000 men would be employed at the job. It would be a difficult job because it was to be all hand labor.

By June 1933, 200 men were stationed at the CCC camp at Princeton, MO. At first, the men were scheduled to do soil conservation work, but the plans were changed to straightening a nearby stretch of the Grand River.

The river was in drainage from the Iowa line to a point about three miles north of Princeton. The right-of-way for the river was available without cost, but the people at the vicinity had never been able to get together enough money to pay for the expense of digging a channel. Now a force of 200 men was available, without cost to the community, to do the digging.

Research to date, however, offers no documentation that this work was ever done.

Researched by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin (2003)