Civilian Conservation Corps seeking recognition for contribution in Missouri

Friday, March 16, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

CASSVILLE — The daughter of a former Civilian Conservation Corps worker is spearheading a campaign to ensure that the program's contributions to Missouri are memorialized with a life-size bronze statue at Roaring River State Park.

It would be one of 60 such statues installed across the United States. The cost for the statue is estimated at $18,000.

Naomi Shaw, of Strafford, is working through the CCC Legacy program in Virginia.

Since the first CCC worker statue was installed in 1995 in Michigan, the group's dream of having a statue in every state has moved closer to reality. To date, members and their supporters have purchased 59 statues in 35 states. All of the statues have been erected with private funds; most have been supported financially by former CCC workers and their families.

A similar statue is in place at Devil's Den State Park in northwest Arkansas.

"Dad and I wanted a statue where thousands of people can see it," Shaw said.

In Missouri, Roaring River State Park fit the bill. The park near Cassville attracts thousands of visitors annually.

In 2010, the park was the featured field trip for CCC alumni who met for a national reunion in nearby Branson — a reunion spearheaded by Shaw and her father, Richard Chrisinger. At that time, park officials unveiled a memorial plaque recognizing the work of CCC Company 1713 at the park.

From 1932 to 1939, the company built 33 buildings, including the hatchery and 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.

Although Chrisinger was not a member of that company, he was a CCC member at Camp Rusk in Wisconsin and at Camp Zigzag in Oregon. Now 89, he lives in Springfield and often visits Shaw and her family on what since 1978 has been a summer pilgrimage to Roaring River.

"It was hard times, my dad's childhood," Shaw said. "He rode the rails to Wisconsin to the family farm as a 14-year-old, and his grandmother put him to work. But come winter, she couldn't feed him. She knew a local recruiter and got him into the CCC at 15. It was up near Canada and bitterly cold. Since he was so young, he worked KP (kitchen patrol) in the kitchen. He went on to fight forest fires and drive supplies."

After the national reunion in 2010, Shaw decided to take on the statue project.

"It's my dad's dream that I am trying to help him with," she said. "It's a labor of love. Dad would like to see it while he's still alive."

Next year is the 80th anniversary of the CCC, and she would like to have a statue in place to dedicate by May 2013.

To date, she has raised about $5,000, including money contributed by her father.

Also in the works is a fundraiser for a statue at Washington State Park in DeSoto, where projects were done by the only black CCC company to work in Missouri's parks.

"We believe the CCC made a huge impact on our quality of life as far as what we have in the way of trails, entertainment, recreation, the lakes — something that will stand for generations," Shaw said. "That's what the CCC did, and that's what we would like to honor them with."

To donate, people may mail contributions to CCC Legacy, P.O. Box 341, Edinburg, VA 22824, with a note directing the donation to the Roaring River State Park project, or call 540-984-8735. The donation is tax deductible.

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