of local woman pays off
CCC statue in Indiana to be unveiled at Versailles State Park
Indianas first Iron Mike statue, will be unveiled
at the Versailles State Park Friday, May 21. The unveiling of
the tribute to the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps or
more commonly referred to as the CCC, is the direct effort of
a local citizen, the late Ruth Ann Swinney.
A part of American history is immortalized forever with the six-foot
bronze statue that now stands in front of the new office for the
Versailles State Park, which also houses the Indiana Conservation
Office District 9 Headquarters. The dedication for all will be
held at 11:00 a.m. next Friday.
The statue, that began as an idea with Mrs. Swinney after she
read an article about them, finally materialized thanks to grants
from the Rising Sun Regional Foundation, Ripley County Community
Foundation, and many hours of paperwork. The cost of the statue
was approximately $18,000.
According to Mrs. Swinneys daughter, Lisa Ebinger of Holton,
her mothers dream was to make sure that period of history
was remembered forever. It was a time when the CCC program literally
provided food and shelter for thousands of young men and also
helped their families.
The CCC was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in
1933, which was during the Great Depression years. The CCC boys
as they were referred to, planted billions of trees in the nations
forests, developed the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in
Georgia and built Waterbury Dam in Vermont.
They were instrumental in replenishing and protecting much land
from erosion, fire and excessive timber harvesting across the
nation. They fought forest fires, built firelines, roads, bridges
and much more that we continue to enjoy today.
The government program not only provided a respite for our natural
resources - it provided food for many families during the desperate
days of the Depression. The program was created within 100 days
of Roosevelt taking office and provided a light in a dark time.
In her own handwriting, Mrs. Swinney noted that CCC boys were
paid $30 per month, with $25 going home to their families and
them keeping $5.00.
The CCC workers enlisted for up to two years, and were housed
in military-style camps that were run by the War Department. The
men lived in barracks and ate in a mess hall, much
like the military. Here they not only worked for the government,
they learned skills that would later be useful in their careers.
The workers also were a boon to a community where they were working.
Hundreds of men would trek into the towns where they spent their
meager $5.00, giving the country a further economic boost.
According to information from the Ripley County Historical Society,
CCC workers camped at what is now the Versailles State Park, building
many beautiful stone buildings. Mrs. Swinney thought the Versailles
location would be perfect for the statue. She was grateful to
the local historical society for their help in the project.
She began her journey of getting the proper paperwork in order.
She found out more about the statues and how the idea was born
with a retired Methodist minister, Rev. William Fraser. The Reverend,
a member of the National Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni in
Michigan (Chapter 129) presented the idea of a CCC worker statue
that would be erected and dedicated to the memory of the Civilian
The first statue was dedicated on June 3, 1995 and sits in front
of the CCC Museum at North Higgins Lake State Park in Michigan.
In a letter dated June 19, 2006, John Selesky, chairman of the
statue project, wrote Mrs. Swinney I am sending you our
CCC worker statue promotional kit...remember it takes from six
months to two years, but whatever it takes it will be worth it
in civic pride and gratitude by the few CCC boys who are still
Selesky was right. It took nearly four years from that letter,
but Mrs. Swinney perservered. She worked really hard on
this, noted her daughter, Lisa, who just wishes her mother
could have seen this project completed. She passed away August
19, 2007. Lisa tied up the loose ends after her mothers
death knowing this project was close to her heart. Lisa noted
that the statue was actually at the park for over two years. Plans
for the new park office were in progress, so they waited to install
the CCC statue in front of the new office at the entrance of the
The public is invited to the unveiling to see the finished product
that has been a collaborative effort including the Ripley County
Tourism Bureau who has put together a brochure that will be available
for guests at the park telling about the statue.