/ Articles / FeU presents ‘Exploring the History and Legacy of Camp Mercer’

FeU presents ‘Exploring the History and Legacy of Camp Mercer’

September 20, 2019


During the Depression the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camps were vibrant though temporary communities. This voluntary work relief program for young unemployed men helped protect and develop natural resources. In northern Wisconsin camps such as Camp Mercer restored forest. Today Camp Mercer is a ruin, but its impact on our community remains. Join Jim Bokern to investigate the legacy of Camp Mercer.

Fe University will offer the class “Exploring the History and Legacy of Camp Mercer”  from 2 to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Oct. 8 and 15 and Thursday, Oct. 17. The first part of each class will be in the Friends’ Room at the Mercer Public Library, followed with a field trip to the Camp Mercer CCC site. 

Participants will explore historic sources, both written and digital, on the CCC and Camp Mercer, as well as engage in field work analyzing historic sites.  Collaboratively they will suggest a stewardship plan that will overview the historic importance of both the CCC and Camp Mercer.  Session 1 will set goals, provide an overview of the CCC and review the focus area of Camp Mercer using current day and historic maps. The field trip will include an easy to moderate hike of approximately one mile of the entire Camp Mercer site with a review of laws and good stewardship practice.  

Session 2 and 3 will discuss and analyze readings and images on Camp Mercer and begin a timeline for the site. In class 2 guest speaker Cindi Stiles will discuss the archeology of the CCC camps. The class will participate in a poster board and post-it-note workshop directing future advocacy during the third session. The eastern and western portions of the campsite will be explored.

The field trip portion of the class requires an easy to moderate walk of a half to one mile over some uneven ground and possibly some shrub and trees. Participation in fieldwork is based on each participant’s comfort level and not required. Reading materials will be available digitally or in printed copies. Students requesting printed materials will be charged a $5 copying fee. 

A laptop or other digital device is recommended for class, but not required. Students will be informed of state and federal laws protecting cultural sites and will be required to follow these laws while in the field. There will be some home assignments that will include reading documents, viewing maps and forming questions. 

Permission to explore this site has been given by Wisconsin state archaeologist John Broihahn, Department of Natural Resources historic preservation officer Richard Kubicek, and NHAL forest specialist Craig Dalton.

The fee for the course is $45 with a $5 discount for those registering and paying by Sept. 24. Class size is limited, so register early. Download registration forms from Fe University’s website www.feuniversity.org or pick up at the Mercer Library or the UW Extension office in the Hurley courthouse. Completed forms may be mailed to Fe University, P.O. Box 63, Hurley, WI 54534 or dropped off at the Mercer Library or Hurley Courthouse. Scholarships available; see registration form for additional information. Visit www.feuniversity.org for class details and registration information, or call 715-588-7464 or 414-828-7218.

Bokern taught history at Oconto High School and later in Marshfield. At Marshfield he was the head of the AP program and taught AP classes in U.S. history, U.S. government and comparative government. He received a master’s degree in history at the University of Stevens Point. His thesis, “History and the Primary Canoe Routes of the Six Bands of Chippewa from the Lac du Flambeau District,” expanded his interest in Native American culture. 

Bokern has been past president of Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted, past Chairperson of the Wisconsin Advanced Placement Advisory Council, consultant for the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program, and textbook editor and contributor for numerous publishing companies. Bokern also has lead two archeological surveys on the Manitowish Waters Chain of Lakes, co-developed the Digital Time Traveler Program at the North Lakeland Discovery Center, worked as project historian on two grants with the Lac du Flambeau Historic Preservation Office, documented the historically significant 6 Pause Portage in Iron County. He is currently president of the Manitowish Waters Historical Society, and continues active historic research in the region.

Cindi Stiles, guest speaker and course consultant, is the archaeologist for the Lac du Flambeau Historic Preservation Office.

Founded in 2014, Fe University

is a non-profit, non-accredited 

“college” targeted to seniors but open to anyone over 18. Partial funding is provided by the Gogebic Range Health Foundation. Other classes offered this fall include “The Bill of Rights: its Origin and Evolution,” “Antiques,” “Russian literature/history,” and “American Reconstruction After the Civil War.”

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