This week's Good Neighbor breaks out of the usual mold. Roaring River State Park is a good neighbor and has been since it was established in 1928. That year, St. Louis businessman, Thomas Sayman, bought 2,400 acres along Roaring River south of Cassville. One month later he donated the land to the state.
Roaring River State Park was born.
Not long after the land was taken over by the state, the Great Depression came about and many men were without jobs. With the formation of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), men were hired by the government and put to work on public projects.
CCC Company #1713 was assigned to Roaring River. The men lived in camps in the park and built many of the camp's facilities. The men constructed 33 buildings—ranging from the big lodge to the fire tower to restrooms. They also constructed a fish hatchery building in the park, some trout raceways, miles of roads and trails, several bridges, and, in addition, they landscaped six acres of the park.
Today, much of the CCC work still stands, just as strong and handsome as it was when it was finished. In much of the work, the men used native stone which has stood the test of time.
Today, trout fishing is at the heart of the park. Fishermen, for a good part of the year, come to chase the elusive trout among the riffles and drops of Roaring River. The river is stocked by the hatchery that the CCC built right inside the park.
Besides fishing, visitors come to picnic, hike, camp, enjoy nature programs, swim and just watch the fishermen making beautiful casts over the water.
On Saturday, May 4, a statue was dedicated which honored the CCC boys of Company #1713. The life-sized statue is the 61st to be erected in America, most in national and state parks.
An effort is being made to have at least one statue in each of the 50 states. Missouri is fortunate to have two of these handsome statues. One is in St. Louis, and the second is in this week's good neighbor, Roaring River State Park.