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posted: 10/29/2013 12:55 PM

History hikes take visitors to former CCC sites

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Forest Preserve District of DuPage County submission

History buffs and outdoor explorers are invited to take a walk back in time during "Signs of the Civilian Conservation Corps" guided hikes Saturday, Nov. 2, at Pioneer Park and Saturday, Nov. 9, at McDowell Grove Forest Preserve, both in Naperville.

Both locations are former work sites of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the nationwide program of the New Deal whose recruits planted trees and built picnic shelters, bridges, dams and trails on public lands during the 1930s.

Sponsored by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, the hikes will be offered at 10 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 3 p.m.

At Pioneer Park, participants will see CCC improvements that visitors still use today. They'll also learn about the dam and mill constructed at the site by Bailey Hobson, one of the county's earliest settlers.

At McDowell Grove, hikers will learn about the legacy of Camp McDowell, where CCC enrollees lived while working on projects at several locations.

They'll also discover how Camp McDowell was used during World War II as a radar school and hear about the camp's connections to the Office of Strategic Services, America's wartime spy agency. Participants even will learn how to decipher a coded message using a cipher taught to OSS trainees.

"Signs of the Civilian Conservation Corps" hikes are free, but advance registration is required by calling (630) 871-7537. Participants must be ages 8 or older and children younger than 16 must be with an adult.

Hikers are encouraged to download the Historypin app on their mobile devices for ease of viewing historic photos during the tours. The main entrance to McDowell Grove is at Raymond Drive and McDowell Road. Pioneer Park is on Washington Street, north of Hobson Road.

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