History

CCC Camp 512 x 219

In the 1930's, drought brought the dust bowl to the Great Plains which led to the phrase "Dirty Thirties." Conservationists began to act to reverse the trend of dried out wetlands and plummeting duck populations. This prompted the establishment of numerous national wildlife refuges, including Upper Souris NWR.


 CCC Camp Maurek 

The 1930's brought drought to the Great Plains and disaster to waterfowl. Populations of ducks plummeted to all-time lows and conservationists began to act. A flamboyant political cartoonist from Iowa, Jay N. "Ding" Darling, became director of the newly formed Bureau of Biological Survey and chose J. Clark Salyer as his top aide.  

Darling helped push the Duck Stamp Act through Congress in 1934, requiring every waterfowl hunter 16 years and over to annually purchase and carry a Federal Duck Stamp. Proceeds from the sale of Duck Stamps were earmarked to buy and lease waterfowl habitat.  

In 1935, Salyer used Duck Stamp receipts to purchase three refuges, including Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, on the loop of the Souris River. Two groups, the Civilian Conservation Corp and Works Project Administration, provided large labor forces which built dikes, roads, fences, and water control structures on the refuges. Men were hired locally as well as from other states. Camp Maurek, a military-style camp located on Upper Souris National Refuge, housed as many as 250 men.  

The site of CCC Camp Maurek is located in Ward County (SE ¼ Sec. 6, T157N, R84W), about a mile south of Dam 83 and the Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.  The site is situated about 1000 feet northeast of the east river bank and occupies a level terrace situated at the base of upland hills.  The general site area is vegetated by short prairie grasses. 

During its period of occupation, 1935 – 1941, Camp Maurek contained over 30 buildings including domestic structures for camp personnel and auxiliary facilities such as workshops, garages and storage building.  Most, if not all, of these buildings were wooden structures on concrete foundations.  Soon after the camp was abandoned by the CCC, almost all of its buildings were dismantled in the fall of 1942.  Their lumber was transferred to the War Department for use in conjunction with construction of the Alaskan Highway.  Only four buildings at Camp Maurek were left standing:  a machine shop, oil house, storage shed and barracks.  Subsequently, the buildings were extensively altered by the Fish and Wildlife Service and used as maintenance facilities for the Refuge until the early 1980’s when all four were demolished.  

The only remnant from Camp Maurek presently at the site is located on the hillside overlooking the north end of the site area.  It is an arrangement of stones that reads, “Camp Maurek”.  All foundation remains at the camp were broken up and buried in a common pit along with other debris.    

 

Camp Maurek   

Learn more about the history of the National Wildlife Refuge System.