UTC Library Special Collections Adds Lookout Mountain Civilian Conservation Corps Photographs

  • Tuesday, January 30, 2024
Black-and-white photograph of two workers tending a bonfire in a Lookout Mountain forest from the 1930s
Black-and-white photograph of two workers tending a bonfire in a Lookout Mountain forest from the 1930s
photo by University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga recently debuted Lookout Mountain Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) photographs as a part of its Digital Collections.

The digital collection launched in fall 2023 around the 90th anniversary of the arrival of crews from the Civilian Conversation Corps to Lookout Mountain. It includes 25 photographs of the environment and workers taken between 1933 and 1939.

Despite the existence of several different camps in the area, the collection focuses on the Lookout Mountain crew, said Carolyn Runyon, assistant head of collection services for the UTC Library and director of special collections.

“One of the things that drives our decisions is our collection development policy, and our particular focus is on Chattanooga and the surrounding area.
When we evaluated the materials for digitization, we chose images that we’re fairly sure are of Lookout Mountain and not other CCC sites that might be captured in this collection,” Ms. Runyon said.

Ms. Runyon said the digitization process for the collection started in March 2023.

The CCC was a New Deal program created by Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide work relief for unemployed and unmarried men aged between 17 and 28. The program ran from 1933 to 1942.

The camp on Lookout Mountain, called MP-5 or Camp Adolph Ochs, was made up of roughly 200 men who worked under the supervision of the National Park Service on the environmental conservation and infrastructure of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and the Chattanooga-Lookout Mountain Park.

The men specifically worked on cutting firebreaks, maintaining trails, constructing park benches and tables and planting greenery throughout their time in Chattanooga.

Chattanooga-Lookout Mountain Park was private land purchased by brothers Adolph and Milton Ochs and other local investors. The Ochs brothers, as president and vice president of the Chattanooga-Lookout Mountain Park Association, donated the park to the federal government; it was officially absorbed into Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in 1935.

UTC acquired the collection in 2017 following the dissolution of the Chattanooga History Center. The center began as a volunteer organization in the 1970s on Missionary Ridge, and the CCC collection was given to the center by an unknown donor.

“I was thrilled to get this collection to work with,” UTC Manuscripts Archivist Molly Copeland said. “The whole idea of the Scenic City and it being a tourist attraction for its nature parks and public nature areas and trails has been around since the late 1800s, but to see it in development through these photographs is exciting.

“There are a lot of national park enthusiasts in Chattanooga and I imagine these images will be interesting to them. It just adds a visual component to our history.”
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