CCC Camp 712, Gunflint (Bill Amyotte)
Bill indicated he had lied about his age and joined the CCC in 1938 at the age of 16 in. He remained until May of 1940 when he joined the armed services.
“Well, the first year I went in, October. And, uh, they needed a person to drive a team of horses to skid uh, wood out of the forest. What…what we call was a liberation. If there was a pine tree or a spruce tree and a birch or a popple or a balsam was next to it then you had to cut that down. So then, they saved the birch and popple for firewood for the camp and we had to skid the thing…we had to skid that out of the woods so it’d get to the trucks.” The team of horses had been rented from Olsen of Good Harbor Hill. “And I stayed out and drove the team and this dreaded old tar paper shack that was out by the Greenwood area, we were logging. And, uh, stayed there over winter. I had a little barn for the horses out of nothing but tar paper….I.. did that all the first winter.”
“The next summer I was on lakes survey. We used to survey lakes up on the Gunflint. What we had to do was, there was two crews, two men in a canoe and then they had, of course, forestry men in charge of us. And we had to every 50’ to go across the lake, drop the sounder, find out what the bottom was…mud, rock or gravel, then we’d had to mark that on a map every 50’. And then we would mark down what’s on the shoreline, which was vegetation on the shoreline and then if there was any animals or birds we had to write that down. And in evening when we’d get through, then I was next in charge of the…I’d go continued up to the forestry guy…His name was, Solan. Gary Solan. He was a marine in the reserves. An officer. And we’d check the depths…boy, we better be accurate because we’d really catch heck, you know. And we’d check for oxygen content at the bottom of the lake and then also for the temperature.”
Bill went on to say that they used a cylinder. “We’d drop a cylinder, would be open and then when it hit the bottom and you’d send a messenger down the rope and it would hit two times and then the cylinder would close, so you’d have the water from that depth and the temperature. And that was checked every day. And, uh, I was on that all summer. We’d be out about two weeks then we’d come back in for about a week, then go out again. It was very interesting. I enjoyed that.”
Bill told of other “locals” who were at the camp. He mentioned the former barber, “Frenchie” Boisvert, Engelson, Bill’s brothers Eugene and Jack and Jim Corcoran.
Food was a major issue at the camp. “We he had bought…had a good pile of herring. It would be 10 cents a pound for herring. Well, that herring was about 3 cents a pound, so…”
The strike didn’t last too long, “We had to put in our 40 hours every week and if we missed during the week, well then, maybe for weather, then we’d have to make it up on Saturday. But, uh, there was a rule that if it was 25 below out, you weren’t supposed to go out and work. But then the…(officer) in the office there, the forestry office, he’d hold a match under close to the thermometer to get it up above 25 below then we’d go out. But we’d like that because, when you’re in the woods you’re gonna get warm, you know.”
In May, 2007, Bill Amyotte was interviewed on a variety of subjects including these experiences at the Gunflint CCC Camp 712.
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