A statue will be raised at the Glacier Public Service Center (also known as the Glacier Ranger Station), located on the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway/State Route 542, to honor the Civilian Conservation Corps’ work. The statue will be raised on June 16, 2018, nearly 85 years after the first group of Civilian Conservation Corps boys arrived at Camp Glacier. Though the Mount Baker region is used heavily in winter and summer, few today know the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps’ in our area. This statue will serve as a reminder to tell their story.
A Little History Lesson
The Civilian Conservation Corps came out of the desperate days of the Great Depression. In 1933, only 30 percent of the population had jobs. Banks, farms and businesses failed. With 25 percent of all young men ages 16 to 30 unemployed, serious social problems arose. To meet this national crisis, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed the Emergency Conservation Act, soon known as the CCC. FDR was inaugurated on March 3, 1933. He proposed the bill on March 21, 1933. Both houses passed it on March 28, 1933. FDR signed it on March 31, 1933.
Whatcom County’s first call for young men to sign up was in mid-April of 1933. A qualifying family had to be on the welfare rolls, their son between the ages of 18 and 25 years old. The family received an allotment of $25 a month. The enrollee would receive five dollars a month, but they were also fed, given shelter and soon training in a variety of things – from radio, auto mechanics to packing horses and setting up phone lines. Some of the young men were able to finish their high school certificate, as well.
On June 12, 1933, a group of 43 men from the Civilian Conservation Corps arrived at Mount Shuksan in the Mount Baker National Forest. A week later they were joined by 30 enrollees from Illinois. By July 12, 1933, Company 2915 was at the full complement of 200 men. During the summer and fall, the company worked on the construction of truck trails on Hannegan Pass and Twin Lakes, felled snags and strung telephone lines. On November 2, 1933, the company moved to their permanent site on the Mount Baker Highway between Maple Falls and Glacier. Over the years, Company 2915 would build the Douglas Fir and Silver Fir campgrounds, the Glacier Ranger Station, the Austin Warming Hut, fire outlooks and hundreds of roads and trails.
The Civilian Conservation Corps Worker Statue
Sometime in the early 1970s, former CCC boys formed alumni chapters to get together, share their stories and support the preservation of their work in state and national. Today, most of the chapters are closed as members have passed away. The concept of the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC Worker Statue program was developed by the former Chapter #129 of Grayling, Michigan in 1995. Program coordinator Rev. William Fraser had the dream to have a statue in every state. The CCC Legacy, a national non-profit group, took on the task recently and now owns the CCC statue mold.
For the past year, author and historian Janet Oakley and Mike Impero, North Fork historian worked to get a CCC worker statue for the Glacier Ranger Station. Oakley grew up on stories of the CCCs and wrote a novel, Tree Soldier, set in the Glacier area. For two years, she was a Washington Humanities speaker, going around the state talking about the CCC’s impact on the state’s treasured parks and soil conservation. Mike Impero has written books about the Glacier area. He has a personal reason for the statue: his father was one of the first CCC boys to serve at Camp Glacier. Last month CCC Legacy signed with the Mount Baker National Forest to allow such a statue. The statue will be the second in Washington State and seventy-second in the nation.