CCC & POW Camp Salina Utah Museum

 

 

Salina City Mayor Dustin Deaton dedicated Utah’s newest museum, Salina’s CCC memorial on Saturday, November 12, 2016 then invited the large crowd in attendance to tour the buildings.

Deaton thanked Dee Olsen and his daughter Tami, who spearheaded the project, and presented a plaque in appreciation of their service to Elaine Deaton, Don Olsen, Gail Olsen, and Dee Olsen, children of the Bert and Doris Olsen family, who donated over $40,000 to the project.

A group of local second grade students entertained the crowd with several patriotic songs, and the local area chamber of commerce hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Tami Clark, spoke about the experience and thanked all who had a hand in the project.

“Today is a joyous occasion, especially for those of us who have had a part in the conceptualizing, shaping, and organizing of the CCC and POW camp restoration,” she said. “I want to personally thank all of those who have volunteered your time, donated materials, and those who have given monetary gifts.  Without you we would not be standing here today.”

In addition, Mike Rose, author of Splinters of a Nation- a book depicting the events occurring at Camp Salina, was in attendance and appeared inside building one was available for autographing his historical book.

The museum restoration was started in December 2014 when Deaton asked Dee Olsen to spearhead the project.       To date, approximately $75,000 has been raised to fund the project. All donations have been made by local companies, private citizens, and grants. No tax dollars have been used, and countless volunteer hours have been donated to the project by many local groups from various places.  In addition, local companies have donated materials to assist with the restoration. The museum project is recognized by the CCC Legacy national group. www.ccclegacy.org

Olsen said he is turning the keys of the museum over to the city, and the mayor and council will decide on visiting/open hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The CCC & POW Camp museum is set for an open house and dedication ceremony on Friday, Nov. 11 at 5:00 pm.

The museum restoration was started in Dec 2014. Mayor Dustin Deaton asked Dee Olsen to spearhead the project.

To date, approx. $75,000 has been raised to fund the project. All donations have been made by local companies, private citizens, and grants. No tax dollars have been used.

Countless volunteer hours have been donated to the project by many local groups from various places.

Local companies have donated materials to assist with the restoration.

The museum project is recognized by the CCC Legacy national group. www.ccclegacy.org

The first company of the Civilian Conservation Corp. arrived in Salina in 1937. During the five years that the company was in Salina, there were approx. 1300-3300 men that served in this area. They built roads, dams, trails, picnic areas, planted trees, and fixed mountain and stream erosion problems. The CCC ended in 1942 due to funding and WWII.

 

 

During World War II more than 370,000 German prisoners of war were captured overseas and sent to prison camps across America.  Splinters of a Nation tells the story of 8,000 prisoners sent to Utah, and a preview of the first-ever documentary about a historic encounter of two cultures at war discovering their common humanity, right here in Utah, will premiere Thursday, October 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the Casino Star Theater in Gunnison.

For more than three years, these prisoners worked side-by-side with thousands of Utahns on farms and factories across the state.

            “This powerful collision of two enemies on the home front created life-changing exchanges and left behind some extraordinary tales,” said Film maker G. Scott Porter. “There were heroes, villains, murders, escapes, as well as amazing acts of humanity and inspiring friendships cast against the bitter backdrop of war.”

            He said tragedy marked the end of these prisoners’ stay as a “deranged American guard” opened fire on hundreds of sleeping prisoners, killing nine and wounding nineteen. 

            “This tragic event in the small rural town of Salina became the largest WWII massacre on American soil,” he said.
The story is told primarily through first-hand accounts of living witnesses, including living POWs, interviewed in locations across Germany.  Through never-before-seen footage and rare photographs, viewers see the prisoners as they really were, in the authentic American environment of the 1940’s.  There are dramatic recreations of the story’s most important events, as well as on-camera interviews from local, national, and international historians and scholars. 

The title, Splinters of a Nation, was taken from an unknown POW’s diary:   We are part of our people, a splinter of the nation which . . . has been separated into a foreign land.”  The POW had been held in Ogden and was reflecting on the state of his country following the end of the war in August 1945.  It is also the title of a book written by Allan Kent Powell in 1989 in which he interviewed more than 20 prisoners who spent time in Utah during the war.  According to Porter, this book is the best authority on the subject of German POWs in Utah; however, it is out of print but can still be found in many libraries throughout the state.

 

            According to Porter, he decided to make this film about five years ago when he heard the story from his grandmother Karla Cottrell.  He said as he was interviewing her for a life history video, she shared “this incredible story about getting to know a group of German POWs who worked on her farm in Lewiston, Utah during the summer of 1945.”

            His grandmother related that at first she despised the prisoners, but as the summer progressed, she grew fond of them and realized that they really weren’t that different. 

            Porter said he was shocked that he hadn’t heard this story before, and was even more surprised to find out that his grandmother’s experience wasn’t all that unique. In fact, people throughout Utah, and in 46 other states, had similar experiences with more than 370,000 German POWs who were held in America during WWII, and a film on the subject had never been made.

            It was difficult to find living witnesses after so many years, but over the course of a year he talked with every scholar on the subject who had ever interviewed German POWs,  who all told him the same thing… he was ten years too late.

            He finally turned to the internet and located a living prisoner, Kurt Schnepper, and two of his comrades, Paul Bartsch and Josef Bergjoff, that were all held together in the Ogden POW camp for several years.  Their interviews became a critical threat for the film.

            He also came in contact with, and interviewed, Ruth Englert, whose husband, the late Franz Englert, was one of the very first POWs to be imprisoned in Utah (Tooele) in 1944.  Franz and two of his comrades successfully escaped from the prison camp and were free for several days until being recaptured forty miles south.

            He was also able to interview Herbert White, whose father, the late Captain John White, was the American guard responsible for recapturing Franz Englert in Tooele 70 years prior.

            In addition, Porter spent another year finding more than 100 living witnesses, all civilians, with memories of the prisoners in Utah, and ultimately conducted a dozen more interviews.

            At Thursday’s viewing, Film-maker G. Scott Porter will be in attendance, along with commentators from KUER-TV, who will soon broadcast the film in collaboration with PBS.  They will offer a question/answer session following the 56-minutes screening.  This presentation is open to the public and FREE to everyone.  For more information, please see http://www.splintersofanation.com http://www.facebook.com/splintersofanation, and http://www.facebook.com/splintersofanation

 

Dee Olsen and Tami Clark updated the Salina City Council on the CCC/POW Camp Museum project at their council meeting held Wednesday, September 14, 2016.  Olsen reported that the physical work will be completed by the end of October, and all the museum items currently owned will be in place.  Then, he said he’s retiring and the project will be turned over to the city .

He asked the city to work on the electrical issues at the site and to get more security cameras in place, and also publically thanked SR Mechanical, Salina, for their generous donation to the project.

Tami Clark presented a $20,000 check to Mayor Dustin Deaton from the Bert and Doris Olsen family, formerly of Axtell.  The Olsen family had some of the POWs on their farm and they have taken an interest in this project since its inception.

The donation will fund the construction of the gun tower replica; the construction drawings are complete and the project is ready to go.

Also at the meeting Charles Billingsley reported on the city clean-up efforts and a discussion was made with one property owner as to what still needs to be completed in order to be in compliance with city code.   Chet Crane also approached the council regarding a water hookup at his farm north of Salina.

The Mayor discussed the problem of semi trucks being parked on city streets, and council woman Becky Lopshire updated the council in the tree problem at the Eastside Cemetery.  Several of the trees are unhealthy and city maintenance crews have worked diligently and tried various methods to get them healthy and thriving, but to no avail.  It was decided that one of the trees would be replaced with a more hardy, climate appropriate tree and if successful, others would be replaced in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Saturday, March 12, 2016, National Honor Society members volunteered their time at the CCC/ POW buildings in Salina.  They worked on raking the grounds, scrubbing windows, and cleaning buildings 1 and 2.  Building 1 is now ready to be painted and the drywall on the ceiling in Building 2 has been installed.

In addition, project coordinators are continuously looking for monetary donations to complete the project. Donations may be dropped off at the Salina City offices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A $10,000 check was presented to Salina City at their regularly scheduled council meeting held Wednesday, March 11 as the first official donation for the restoration of the CCC/POW Campsite located on the east end of Main Street in Salina.

The donation was made by the Olsen family, including Dee Olsen, Salina, Don Olsen, SLC, Gail Olsen, Washington, and Elaine Olsen Deaton, Salina.

“This is a very generous donation and we’re very appreciative of these individuals and their willingness to support this endeavor,” said Salina City Mayor Dustin Deaton.

Dee Olsen has been asked to spearhead the restoration, and donations of time, funds, or materials, are always welcome.  For more information contact the Salina City Office or Olsen.

 

 

 

 

 

Ron Smith and Jason Mellor of Ash Grove Cement Company, Leamington, Utah,  presented a $5,000 donation to the Salina City Council to aid in funding for the CCC/POW Camp Museum project. This donation is from a charitable foundation that is managed by Kent Sunderland.

The Mayor and Council thanked Smith and Mellor for the generous donation.

Work on the restoration project continues as committee members and volunteers recently had curbing completed for walkways, and the exteriors of buildings one and two are coming to completion.  Next on the construction agenda volunteers will finish installing/restoring doors on building one, and doing some edging along the sides of the buildings where gravel has been laid.

Building three’s exterior will remain wood like it is, but after being thoroughly cleaned and pressure washed, some of the wood will need repair, then a clear finish coat.  The roof of the lean-to part has been fixed, and new materials have been installed.

“It’s looking great,” said one of the project’s coordinators Tami Clark. “We’ve had a few people stop by and say how happy they are that the buildings are being restored and the area is cleaned up.”