WPA Project: Lake Warren (ca 1936)

In 1933, when President Roosevelt took office, almost 50% of America’s workforce was either unemployed or underemployed. The President’s New Deal inititive employed millions of Americans to build and improve the nation’s infrastructure. With $4.9 billion to spend, (6.7% of the 1935 GDP), WPA was in almost every community in the US, building new parks, bridges or schools.
“WPA provided jobs and income to unemployed during the Depression. At it’s peak in 1938, it provided paid jobs for 3 million unemployed men and women, as well as youth in a separate division. Between 1935 and 1943, when the agency was disbanded, the WPA employed 8.5 million people. Most people who needed a job were eligible for employment in some capacity. Hourly wages were typically set to the prevailing wages in each area. Full employment, which was reached in 1942 and emerged as a long-term national goal around 1944, was not the goal of the WPA; rather, it tried to provide one paid job for all families in which the breadwinner suffered long-term unemployment.”
“The stated goal of public building programs was to end the depression or, at least, alleviate its worst effects,” sociologist Robert D. Leighninger asserted. “Millions of people needed subsistence incomes. Work relief was preferred over public assistance (the dole) because it maintained self-respect, reinforced the work ethic, and kept skills sharp.”
The WPA was a national program that operated its own projects in cooperation with state and local governments, which provided 10–30% of the costs. Usually the local sponsor provided land and often trucks and supplies, with the WPA responsible for wages (and for the salaries of supervisors, who were not on relief). WPA sometimes took over state and local relief programs that had originated in the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) or Federal Emergency Relief Administration programs (Wikipedia: WPA projects)
Nockamixon and the surrounding areas were not exempt from benefiting from WPA. The building of the dam at Lake Warren was one of these projects. It encompasses app
roximately 20 acres and is touted for fishing, but most enjoy the thriving bird population. It is at the base of Coffman/Hoffman/Boatman’s Hill (depends on which old map reviewed) and included in State Game Lands #56.

One comment on “WPA Project: Lake Warren (ca 1936)

  1. Mary Shafer says:

    This is a great piece on our local history, thank you! The other divisions you refer to for work relief were the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC). Not sure about Pennsylvania, but I know in at least one Midwest state (Wisconsin), the YCC is alive and well and provides work and training for youth up to 18 years of age every summer. It’s a great program and keeps the state’s parks and game lands well-maintained.

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