As always, J.J. Lamb and the staff at Colossal Cave put together a terrific event with a slate of speakers that included historians and researchers, local elected officials as well as a rousing portrayal of President Franklin Roosevelt, remarkably performed by James Goodin.
Colossal Cave’s CCC connection runs deep. To quote the text of the dedication program: “Colossal Cave Mountain Park owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the men of the Civilian Conservation Corps. From 1934 to 1937 two CCC companies, 0858 and 2851, worked at what is now Colossal Cave Mountain Park…Inside the Cave, they widened passages, established trails, installed handrails and lighting, and enlarged the entrance. Above ground, they constructed the magnificent hewn-limestone retaining wall and headquarters buildings.”
Following remarks by guest speakers, Arizona’s first CCC Worker Statue was unveiled by Gerald Johnson, CCC veteran and Colossal Cave Mountain Park Director Martie Maierhauser. It was Gerald Johnson’s generous initial donation in 2004 that got Arizona’s statue campaign rolling and ultimately, an additional donation from Mr. Johnson insured that the statue would be a reality. It is safe to say that without Gerald Johnson, the statue dedication would not have taken place in this, the 75th anniversary year of the CCC.
The statue will stand near the entrance to the visitor’s center where all who visit the Cave will see him, standing proud, a reminder of a simpler but tougher time in our history when sometimes all you had to show for a day’s work was a new set of blisters.