The 80th anniversary of the founding of the Civilian Conservation Corps began with a ceremony at the CCC Worker statue in front of the Warren County Visitors’ Center in Starbrick.
The ceremony was held this year in memory of Joseph Tullio, a CCC and World War II veteran.
Ed Atwood introduced the guests and CCC veterans, then spoke briefly about the CCC and invited everyone to Chapman State Park for a ceremonial ‘Wreath on the Lake,’ in memory of the deceased veterans, and a picnic.
Atwood said, “The Civilian Conservation Corps is the greatest social program in the U.S. yet.” He asked all the guests to shake the hands and thank the veterans for their service, then presented the vets with personalized plaques.
Mike Schultz, a CCC historian, made a presentation at Chapman about the people and the works of the Corps. “I met these men in the early ’60s when I was a camp host at Loleta, and I got to know these guys.”
“When I came back to Loleta in 1983 for the 50th anniversary, a saw one man crying, tears running down his face. When I asked him ‘What’s wrong,’ he looked over the beach and the swimming pool filled with children and said, ‘I never knew how much happiness we brought to these people.”
“As I worked with these guys, to a man they said there finest days were in the CCC. These men’s lives were turned around. They saved the environment, and they were saved, too,” he added.
Schultz spoke of the accomplishments of the “boys”, saying that in addition to the historic structures, bridges and other works, “Their number one accomplishment was stopping the scourge of forest fires and then planting over three billion… that’s billion, trees across the United States.”
He explained how western Pennsylvania was bare of trees from indiscriminate logging. “From Williamsport to Warren was a clear cut,” making brush fires common, he said.
Stating that President Franklin Roosevelt’s three biggest accomplishments were the GI Bill, Social Security and the CCC, he concluded that, “Another hundred years from now, Roosevelt will be remembered almost exclusively for protecting the environment,” through the works of the CCC.
The reunion was sponsored by the Tionesta Valley Snowmobile Club, the Allegheny National Forest, the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources and Chapman State Park.