Host: Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas Event Location: Las Vegas Springs Preserve
Las Vegas, Nevada
Members of CCC Legacy met in Las Vegas, NV from September 22—24 to renew acquaintances and enjoy learning about CCC history in the State of Nevada. Speakers, historical tours, and sharing the stories of CCC Boys and families were all highlights that created an event that expanded our understanding of the role that the Civilian Conservation Corps played in Nevada and our nation.
The event activities were held at the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas on the Springs Preserve. This structure was a handsome venue for our meetings. The Nevada Museum content covered many interesting facets of the local culture dating back to prehistoric skeletons, Native American culture, settlement culture, and fast forwarding to casinos and chorus girls. For attendees, who had never been in Las Vegas, the museum presented an overall cultural understanding of where our meeting was held in relationship to the vast desert that surrounded Las Vegas. The museum told of the growth of the surrounding area from the small settlement at the original water springs to this sprawling city of glitz and glamour. For those of us who spend most of our time in small town America where it is “green”, there was an “ooh” and “aah” everywhere we looked—including the casino no matter the time of day.
Event coordinator, Noami Shaw, led us through the event with the skill of a professional organizer. We all benefited from her energy, sense of detail, and hospitality. Organizing the event in Las Vegas while living in Missouri was quite a feat to be appreciated. Our lesson is: never underestimate the daughter of a CCC Boy.
The event activities started on Thursday evening with a warm welcome that continued for the rest of the event. Everyone dubbed it a great success.
The 2016 Annual Gathering in Las Vegas stated with a contrast of culture and sounds. Thursday afternoon we gathered to meet our shuttle that would give us a ride to the Nevada Museum of Las Vegas. From the hotel registration area and mail entrance, we could see and hear the activity in the casino which covered the first floor of the hotel. There were many curious newcomers walking about and even more folks firmly planted in front of a gambling machine with drink in hand.
To start our first evening of activities our destination was Las Vegas Springs Preserve and the Nevada Museum of Las Vegas. The Springs Preserve was a stark and welcome contrast to the hubbub of the casino. Quiet paths displaying native plants led us to the museum building where we would spend the greater portion of our time. For those who were not familiar with desert vegetation, it was a chance to get a close look and the interesting plants which had evolved for desert survival.
Event coordinator, Naomi Shaw, welcomed our merry group of travelers. It was nice to see old friends and become acquainted with newcomers who were getting introduced to the annual gathering events. Museum Director, Dennis McBride, and administrative counterpart, Maureen McDonough welcomed us and helped us to get organized for success After introductions and our meal, we had time to enjoy casual conversation about the CCC. CCC alumni and family members shared their stories about the CCC experience. The sincere tone of the conversations were a reflection of the dedication that all of us have as CCC advocates to make sure that the heritage of the CCC is not forgotten.
These conversations are the core of who we are as members of CCC Legacy and brought a meaningful closure to our first day of activities.
Friday: A Day of Learning
Friday we spent the day at the museum. Four very informative speakers introduced us to the history of Nevada and its CCC heritage.
Dr. Michael Green, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Subject: Nevada in 1930
Renee Kolvet, Author. Subject: The CCC in Nevada
Steve Daron, Archeologist, Lake Mead NRA National Park Service. Subject: CCC Involvement in Southern Nevada Archeological Investigations
Chris Johnston, Park Ranger, Valley of Fire State Park. Subject: The CCC in Nevada’s State Parks: A Lasting Legacy.
Also on Friday, Renee Kolvet, interviewed the CCC Boys which were recorded. These presentations and interviews have been shared with CCC Legacy.
The evening event was the Annual CCC Legacy Membership Meeting. An important function that is carried out each year as required by the bylaws. Although it isn’t generally very exciting, it is an important part of sharing the status of the organization with members. After an excellent dinner, the business meeting was called to order. The contents of the meeting will be shared in the minutes of the meeting which will appear in a different section of the Journal.
Saturday: Historic tours
Bright and early Saturday day morning we all boarded the bus to see historic sites that were built by the CCC. Our tour guide was well versed and fielded many questions about the landscape, wildlife, vegetation, agriculture, mining and many other subjects as the bus made the one-hour trip north toward the Moapa Valley. With every passing mile, the stark landscape had a story to tell.
Lost City Museum: Our first stop was at the Lost City Museum in Overton, NV. The museum was built by CCC Co. 573 in 1935 to house the native American artifacts which were being excavated from the Moapa Valley. With the construction of Hoover Dam and the resulting flooding that created Lake Mead these historic sights would be cover with water forever.
The rising water of Lake Mead was imminent. The National Park Service used the CCC labor of Co. 974 to quickly help with the excavations of these ancient Puebloan sights and preserve as much as they could. The enrollees worked under the supervision of archeologist Mark Harrington and the military staff of the camp. They also constructed pueblos to demonstrate the living conditions of the Ancestral Puebloans.
Valley of Fire State Park: Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park and was dedicated in 1935. It derives its name from the red sandstone formations that loam over the landscape. One of the tasks of the CCC was to build roads and hiking trains which made the park accessible to visitors. Sone of the iconic CCC structures are call “The Cabins”. Originally sleeping quarters for overnight campers, these structures are a unique glimpse at the variety of buildings constructed from local resources. Built of the red stone they blend into the background along with the ancient petroglyphs that are visible behind the structures.
Our box-lunch was eaten under the CCC built picnic pavilion and then we headed onto Rainbow Vista. The Rainbow Vista is a view of the Valley of Fire State Park. The drive displays multicolored rocks that are visible for many miles. It is a favored place to hold weddings and while we were driving by we were witnesses to holy matrimony.
Since our goal was to be back at the hotel by 4:30, we headed back to Las Vegas to prepare for the Awards and Recognition Banquet. After freshening up after our bus tour, we headed back to the museum for dinner and the final event of the gathering.
The dinner was very tasty and fueled us and our sense of humor.
Once again the awards and recognition portion of the dinner was casual but conversation was robust and a spirit of sharing brought everyone together with good stories and lots of laughter.
This year we started an effort to give certificates to all of the CCC Boys in attendance along with the “Proud to be a CCC Boy” pin. Lawrence Fowler, of Indiana, declared “it is a treasure and I was going to cherish it for life.”
1Certificates of appreciation were given to CCC alumni attendees, board members, organizers and event hosts, Dennis McBride and Maureen McDonough. Since Naomi first started planning the event, Dennis and Maureen came to our aid and helped to make the event a success.
The Legacy Achievement Award:
One of the tasks accomplished this year by the Board of Directors was an Awards & Recognition Program. It is in its early state of development, but the one award that was finalized is the Legacy Achievement Award. This award will go to a member who has actively helped CCC Legacy achieve its goals and sustain programming into the future.
After careful thought, Richard Chrisinger, of Springfield, MO, was chosen by the committee to receive this award for his unwavering support of the statue program over many years. Because of illness, he was unable to attend the event. He has attended many reunions over the years and his presences was missed by all. In order to officially present him with his award, we had to be creative.
With the help of Maureen McDonough of the museum , Naomi Shaw experimented with a high-tech computer feature called Skype. Through the use of laptop computers with built in video cameras, we brought Richard to the event via computer. This is a first for a CCC Legacy meeting.
As we rounded-out the evening there was a close sense of comradeship and greater sense of appreciation for our CCC Boys who have done so much for America.
Three cheers for the CCC!
CCC Legacy website is published in honor of Mary Halbert of St. Paul, MN, who passed away on March 23, 2015
Her generous support continues to enhance the awareness of CCC heritage.