CCC Camp Shawnee No. 2 was home to one of the four segregated, all black companies of Civilian Conservation Corps units, which helped to construct the infrastructure of the modern-day Shawnee State Forest.
Originally occupied on 18 June 1933, Co. 1520 included 200 African American enrollees, which were drawn from cities across Ohio. The army commander and his lieutenants were augmented by locally hired men (both black and white) from nearby Portsmouth, Ohio. Frank and Neal Hairston, for example served as “local experienced men,” providing supervision and technical expertise to the unit. Their projects included road construction, seed collection for reforestation efforts, and fire hazard forest improvement, which included the removal of blighted American Chestnut trees.
Soon after the company arrived in Shawnee and began their work, the camp was the scene of what CCC officials described as a "riot," when thirty of the men refused to work. Ultimately, the disgruntled men were discharged and order restored to the camp. By the fall of 1934, morale had improved. A camp inspection report noted the enrollees appeared “to be satisfied with conditions. As a whole they have no complaints to offer. All say they like the life and are satisfied.” In gauging the local public opinion of the enrollees's conduct,” the government inspector concluded it to be “very favorable.”
Additionally, the report noted that "religious services are held at this camp on Thursday evenings, by local colored clergymen. Catholics are transported to Portsmouth by truck on Sundays. …. 85% of the men attend services.” And, notably, the average weight gain of its enrollees was reported to be 20 pounds, significantly higher than the national average of 11.5 pounds.