CCC Worker Statue unveiled at RRSP
On Saturday, Gov. Jay Nixon visited Roaring River State Park to take part in the dedication ceremony for the new CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Worker Statue, which has been placed near the pavilion on Highway F in the park.
"Thank you all for joining us," said Bill Bryan, Missouri State Parks director. "I wish it were warmer, prettier and sunnier, but this weather is kind of like the CCC workers themselves. The work was hard, the pay was low, but they got the job done anyway. It's an honor to be here today and have the opportunity to welcome you all to Roaring River State Park."
Bryan recognized several former CCC members in attendance. He also introduced Joan Sharpe, CCC Legacy president, Richard Chrisinger, who was the driving force behind the new CCC Worker Statue project, and Gov. Nixon.
"We are here to dedicate this tribute to the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in our country, our state and especially here at Roaring River State Park," said Nixon. "In 1933, the country was deep in a depression and many young men were out of work. They were without jobs, low on money and in need of hope.
"The Civilian Conservation Corps came as an answer," continued Nixon. "Developed to help conserve the natural resources of the nation, it gave young men the opportunity to find employment."
Nixon pointed to a documentary completed by Ken Burns called "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," which showcased the story of the CCC workers.
"Enrollees, who had to be at least 17 years old, received $8 a month in cash, with an additional $22 sent home to his family," said Nixon. "The salary was literally a lifesaver for some American families.
"Within weeks after the CCC was established, 150 young men arrived here a Roaring River," said Nixon. "Those who lived in the area still remember the green trucks that carried the workers here during the spring of 1933."
According to Nixon, 1,500 CCC workers moved through Camp Smokey at Roaring River between 1933 and 1939.
"The amount of work that was accomplished here by Company 1713 is hard to comprehend," said Nixon. "Many of the buildings remain and continue to serve as an important part of recreation here at the park."
The pavilion located near the CCC Worker Statue and CCC monument installed at the park in 2010 was constructed by CCC workers, said Nixon.
"When you look at the stone building blocks that make up this structure, you shouldn't take for granted the fact that these blocks were hand-chiseled by CCC workers," said Nixon. "The native stone was quarried by hand on the park grounds."
CCC workers constructed 13 buildings, completed 17 acres of beach improvements, landscaped six acres of park and built miles of roads and trails. Projects also included topographical and linear surveys, bridges, fire guards, fences, drinking fountains, fish raceways, garages and the hatchery building, said Nixon.
"Today, as we reflect on the accomplishments of Company 1713, I would like to recognize the original workers who are with us today," said Nixon. "They have traveled to join us, and we are grateful, both for their work and their presence on this important day.
"In Missouri, we have worked to preserve and embrace the legacy of the CCC," continued Nixon. "This legacy is more than stone and structures. It is giving young people a chance and preserving our natural resources."
In 2010, Gov. Nixon announced the formation of the State Parks Youth Corps, which is similar to the historic federal CCC program. State Parks Youth Corps give young adults, ages 17 through 23, the opportunity to work outdoors and receive on-the-job training. Through the program, over 2,000 youth corps members have worked more than 500,000 hours.
Nixon recognized the State Parks Youth Corps members in attendance at the dedication ceremony. He also encouraged young adults throughout the state to apply for the program online at mo.gov.
"These young people are our future, and it is important that we foster a love and appreciation of the outdoors in their lives," said Nixon. "That is one important function of this statue, to remind us of the contribution of the CCC and inspire us for the future."
Nixon invited Chrisinger and all of the former CCC workers in attendance to help him in the unveiling of the new CCC Worker Statue.
The dedication ceremony also included short addresses by Sharpe and Chrisinger and was followed by a spaghetti dinner.