3000 ATTEND FIRST EXCAVATION OF TRI-COUNTY FRI.
The Tri-county first excavation ceremony was held last Friday with more than 300 people present to witness the event. C. W. McConaughy, the sole survivor of a group of men that started the fight over twenty years ago to secure water for this region, fired the shot that started the actual construction work on the project. The shot for starting work was fired a few minutes past 1:00 o’clock, but due to the late arrival of the principal speaker for the event, it was held up as he arrived before the machine had begun work.
The ceremony was presided over by Dr. D. W. Kingsley, president of the district. He gave a brief outline of the fight that had been carried on year after year to bring about this project. Former Governor Weaver gave a short address stressing the need of the water and the conservation of the soil for the region.
J. E. Lawrence, editor of the Lincoln Star, and a member of the advisory board that approved the application for the funds for the project, paid an eloquent tribute to the people of this region and the pioneers that settled it. His address in part is as follows:
“Never do I stand before you people of this region, you who are pioneers; you who are the strong, staunch sons and daughters of pioneers, without a sense of humbleness. It has been our privilege to have been united in a great enterprise. Splendidly as you have dreamed and planned and projected; magnificently as you have fought. I wonder if there is among us the full appreciation of just what this means to the Nebraska which is to be.
“You will understand that as those of us who came from the outside although as neighbors, saw this project we were thinking of Nebraska. We were thinking of a state which may and probably will in the next fifty years provide homes and opportunity for more than 2 million people. We were thinking of a region where since the beginning men have lived close to the soil, through the generosity and fertility of the soil, in peace, happiness, and contentment upon the soil. We were thinking of the struggles through which you, and through which all Nebraskans have passed—struggles with drought, struggles in which bitter lessons were acquired in the great battle against nature’s vagaries.
“So today, we turn the first spadeful of earth. In the coming months and throughout the next few years, you will be engaged in an enterprise which is the largest of its kind undertaken in the history on Nebraska. It calls for an expenditure in excess of 20 million dollars. For it many men are and will be required; for it, vast amounts of materials will be needed. But merely to say that, is to overlook its full significance and to ignore its relation to Nebraska history. In the inauguration of the work here today, history is being made—the history of the termination of one phase of pioneering—and the beginning of a new cycle of pioneering.
“Who has not thrilled to the sheer drama of these racing years? Yesterday we were rich as Croesus. Today we are a spoor as Job’s turkey. In our fall from riches to poverty, we discovered ourselves. Where we had been indifferent, frequently thoughtless, and generally satisfied, we found a spur to new ambition, an incentive to planning, and a stimulus to imagination If we were to live, it was because we deserved to live, and not because living was made easy and luxurious.”
Note: Heading says “3000,” article says “300” people in attendance.
The Farnam Echo 55(28):1, Thursday, 19 March 1936