Ten years ago, Joe Wiedemer was with four friends who had worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression.
They had driven to the lookout at Leonard Harrison State Park in Tioga County, gotten out of their cars and started on a short hike, hoping to see game animals.
They came around a bend in the trail, and there, on a rise, they saw it.
It was stylized bronze statue of a CCC worker - like the four friends had been almost 70 years earlier.
Wiedemer - the only one who hadn't worked in the Corps - said, "It's beautiful."
A little while later, the friends were admiring the statue up close.
"I'm going to get us one," Wiedemer said, "For over at Hyner."
Wiedemer had a camp they all frequented near Hyner View State Park at Renovo.
Wiedemer had fished and hunted in that area for 60 years and had long wanted to do something at Hyner View, which overlooks the West Branch of the Susquehanna River near McCloskey Island.
Here was the perfect thing.
The friends laughed.
It'll never happen, they said.
When he was a youngster in Altoona in the 1930s and early 1940s, Wiedemer encountered CCC workers home on leave in their green uniforms.
He didn't know what the uniforms signified at first, but when he found out the men were in a government program to get them off the streets and laboring in the woods, he was impressed.
The CCC, which operated between 1933-42, planted almost 3 billion trees and built numerous roads and buildings as part of its work under President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.
An abiding respect for the CCC and its workers took root in Wiedemer.
During the era of World War II, Wiedemer entered the Naval Reserves, but didn't make it out of the states. His friends, the ones who had been in the CCC, went overseas and fought.
Later in life, they never bragged about what they did.
But John Lidwell and Bob Nagle of Ashville, Fred Krug of Loretto, George Nelen of the Patton area and Freddie Dremel of Renovo hunted and fished with Wiedemer over the years. Once, they helped him rebuild a barn at his camp. They stuck together, did things as a unit.
Wiedemer began the effort by writing letters to regular people, businesses and politicians - a task he did for 3 1/2 years.
He'd sit at the counter in his roomy kitchen in Red Hill and outline to would-be donors his plan to get one of the 460-pound, 6-foot-tall statues - there are 59 copies around the country - installed at Hyner View, which the CCC built.
No one sent money.
One of the people he asked to help was Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll. In 2008, Knoll went public with a diagnosis of cancer.
Wiedemer, a Catholic, had a nine-day prayer - a novena - said on her behalf.
She sent him a thank-you letter. She underwent treatment and tried to return to her duties, but couldn't. He sent to Lourdes in France and had a bottle of holy water sent to her. She sent another letter, saying that words failed her in expressing her gratitude.
Knoll would help him get that statue up, she promised, when she got better. Only she didn't get better, dying in November 2008.
Mike Winters took over management of operations at Hyner View in 2007 and soon heard about the guy who wanted to put up the CCC statue.
The prevailing view in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was that it wouldn't happen.
There were concerns about vandalism, and no one really thought Wiedemer could get the money together, Winters said.
In 2010, Wiedemer realized he wasn't getting anywhere with fundraising.
So he called the Michigan company that makes the statues - the one that owns the rights to the mold - and ordered the statue.
He found out that he needed to send $10,000 just to start the work, and that he would need a similar additional amount to get the statue delivered.
He took out a loan and sent a $10,000 check.
With production having begun on the statue, Wiedemer redoubled the fundraising effort.
Maybe people figured he was for real, because of the money he'd committed to the statue and because work had begun.
Donations started coming in from Blair County business and "regular people."
Wiedemer reached $4,500 in contributions in a short time.
By then, he had persuaded DCNR to build the base and install the statue - work that eventually cost $4,600, Winters said.
Wiedemer convinced the agency that the statue was "a very important thing," Winters said.
But the fundraising success didn't last long, and Wiedemer's self-imposed deadline of early October 2010 began to loom.
Wiedemer wanted the statue by then so it could be part of Renovo's 2010 Flaming Foliage Festival.
So Wiedemer again reached for his personal checkbook, sending an additional $5,000.
That finally freed the statue.
Thanks to a rush delivery, the statue made it for the festival.
The state installed the statue the following spring.
The state is dedicating it on Tuesday.
By the time Wiedemer got the statue delivered, three of the four friends had died, except for Nagle and he was not in good shape, Wiedemer said. He regrets they can't appreciate the delivery of his promise, but at least they knew he was working on it.
Not only did the state place the statue at Hyner Run, it made it the focal point for improvements - including some triggered by the statue's presence. Those ongoing improvements include expanded parking, new restrooms, landscaping and walking "pads."
Fifty thousand people a year visit Hyner View, and they'll get to see a representation of the workers who laid the foundation of the state park system.
"That's what makes it so big for us," Winters said.
Baker Knoll had died about a month after her last grateful letter and promise of help.
Wiedemer is a man of faith.
She did help it happen, he insists.
"No doubt in my mind," he said.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.