By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
Globe Staff Writer
CASSVILLE, Mo. —
A former member of the Civilian Conservation Corps along with the descendants of several former members helped dedicate a large bronze statue Saturday afternoon that honors the group’s efforts at Roaring River State Park.
Noman Nichols, a former member of the company that built many of the trails, cabins and more at Roaring River, came from Jane. He said he was “very pleased.”
“I didn’t think it would be this nice and such a big thing,” he said of the statue.
“It’s a testament to their skills and craftsmanship that many of the structures they built, including the beautiful stone shelter, are still being used and enjoyed by park visitors today,” State Parks Director Bill Bryan said during the ceremony. It was held under a white tent next to the stone CCC shelter just off of Route F.
CCC Company 1713 began work at the park in June 1933, part of a national program to provide young unmarried men employment, lodging and meals during the Great Depression.
Through 1939, a total of 1,500 men built 33 buildings, including cabins, an improved hatchery and a new lodge, now on the National Register of Historic Places. They completed 17 acres of riverside improvements, six acres of landscaping, and miles of roads, trails and fences.
“The amount of work that was accomplished here by Company 1713 is hard to comprehend. Many of the buildings remain and continue to serve as an important part of recreation here at this park,” Gov. Jay Nixon said during the ceremony. “This very pavilion was created by the CCC. When you look at the stone building blocks that make up that structure, we should all appreciate the fact that those blocks were hand chiseled by CCC workers. The native stone was quarried by hand on park grounds.”
The workers made $8 a month, and $22 was sent home to each family.
“The salary was literally a lifesaver for some American families,” Nixon said.
The first “CCC Worker” statue was installed in 1995 in Michigan as part of a national effort by the CCC Legacy Program based in Virginia. Joan Sharpe, president, said at the ceremony that the group’s dream of having a statue in every state has moved closer to reality: The statue at Roaring River is the 61st statue to be erected in 35 states.
The bulk of the $27,000 needed for the Roaring River statue was provided by former CCC worker Richard Chrisinger, who will turn 91 in July. For two years, his daughter, Strafford resident Naomi Shaw, spearheaded a campaign to also collect funds from individuals and businesses.
Chrisinger told those gathered that he enjoyed the CCC and the work the company did at camps in Wisconsin and Oregon and that he was honored to have the statue in place at Roaring River as a lasting tribute to all of those who served in the federal program.
Bob and Bill Orton, sons of Joplin native Eugene Orton, who was the first commander of Company 1713, came from Colorado for the ceremony. They said it was a chance to begin learning more about an important chapter in their father’s’s life.
Maureen Gray, who came from Lee’s Summit, said her dad, Pat Coble, was a Company 1713 member who laid the stones in walls and walkways at the fish hatchery.
“It’s neat to think about, when I walk along there, that my dad built that,” she said. "I think they helped build the prettiest park in the state."
An estimated 4,000 young men worked in 22 CCC camps in Missouri during the Great Depression. Today, the state’s outdoor heritage is tied directly to their work, said Gov. Jay Nixon, who also recognized members of the State Parks Youth Corps as continuing that legacy. Since the SPYC began in 2010, about 2,000 people ages 17 to 23 have logged 500,000 hours in the state’s parks system.