The past and future of the Missouri state parks system came together Saturday afternoon at the unveiling of a monument dedicated to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) at Roaring River State Park.
The ceremony was attended by CCC members from around the country and current members of the State Park Youth Corps who were marking their last day of summer employment at the state park.
The CCC members were visiting Roaring River as part of their national conference, which was held in Branson this year. The CCC "boys" traveled to Missouri from Maine, Oregon, Connecticut and cities across the United States to celebrate their legacy of service and their role in shaping the nation's park system.
During their field trip to Roaring River, which lasted about four hours, the group toured the hatchery, visited Camp Smokey and enjoyed a lunch at the Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center.
During lunch, the group was welcomed by Dusty Reid, Roaring River State Park Superintendent. They also listened to presentations made by retired Senator Emory Melton, Missouri State Parks architect Sandra Walther and Missouri State Parks Director Bill Bryan, who spoke about Missouri's cutting-edge State Parks Youth Corps program that was launched this past summer.
"This is the state's effort to pass on your legacy," said Bryan when explaining about the Youth Corps program, which put over 1,000 young people age 17 to 24 to work at state parks this summer.
"A lot of the work they did was to buff up the work the CCC did in our parks," said Bryan.
Walther provided a detailed presentation on a project she guided to restore the CCC-built stone walkways and walls at Roaring River State Park. She said she spent two years researching the project, which took four months of construction to complete.
"I took a lot of care to study the color, texture and tooling of the stone used in the walkways and walls," said Walther. "I did historical research. I needed to know who you (the CCC) were and how you worked so I could give you the recognition you deserved."
In the end, the stone used in the project was quarried from a ledge of limestone discovered in the park's horse corral.
"We actually lifted the ledge of stone out of the earth and worked it with our hands," said Walther. "It was an exact match in color and texture.
"I'm very passionate about this project, and I can't think of one thing I would have done differently," said Walther.
The CCC Legacy visit culminated with the unveiling of a new monument that has been erected in the CCC's honor at Roaring River State Park. The CCC guests had the honor of pulling off the big white sheet that had been covering the new monument constructed of stone, timber and bronze.
"Both our roots and our future are here together," said Bryan, referring to the CCC veterans and the State Park Youth Corps workers who were present for the unveiling.
"I want to start by thanking the CCC and you for what you did for state parks, and specifically what CCC Co. 1713 did for Roaring River State Park," continued Bryan. "It's your legacy we're honoring today. We honor the CCC in general and specifically the work of Co. 1713 that literally built this park."
The monument stands east of the CCC Shelter Kitchen on Highway F where it is visible to park visitors and those travelling by the park.
"We picked the spot for the monument so it would be very visible . . . and we wanted it located near some CCC structure and in a setting that enhanced its beauty," said Reid.
"I'm honored the CCC group chose Roaring River as the site of one of their field trips and it coincided with the unveiling of this monument," added Reid. "I'm also very pleased to be able to show them how we've maintained and preserved the work their group did."
CCC Co. 1713 was headquartered at Roaring River State Park from June 1933 through Nov. 1, 1939. During their tenure at the park, the CCC workers were credited with constructing 33 buildings, completing six acres of landscaping and topographical and linear surveys and building fish raceways, a hatchery building and miles of roads and trails.