A Summer of Knowledge

This week during my internship at Colorado National Monument, I had the opportunity to learn and experience a whole new set of skills. Instead of surveying at White Rocks this week for historic and archaeological sites, I worked on historic walls that had been built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps when the park was first being built. Our job this week was to go out and photograph and then record all the information we could about the walls before they would be worked on by the masonry crew. In order to preserve the walls in the park, the Park Service has to continue to repair or fix any issues that could cause the walls to fall or become unsafe. However, in doing any sort of preservation work is a potential to ruin the original integrity of the wall or significantly change the wall if not done appropriately.  The documentation helps to preserve information on the walls prior to application of preservation treatments and helps to guide the preservation work to ensure that the preservation work does not result in inappropriate impacts to the walls. I kicked the week off working with Tracy, focusing on the wall that was next in line to be worked on by the masonry crew. Wall 6.48, named by the mile marker it is near on Rim Rock Drive, needed to be have the top and the exterior of it photographed prior to being worked on the next day. It took all day to take photos of the exterior and the top, especially due to weather in the morning on Monday.  It was wIMG_1201indy and rainy till about two o’clock that day, making it a little more dangerous to take photos. We also work right on the edge of the mesa, all of the walls are along the edge of the road blocking the cliff as you can see in the photo above. When taking photos of the wall we use a photo board to display the Site number, the name of the wall, and the photo or section number. This allows us to go back and look at which photos were taken first and in the correct order when they are used later. On Tuesday, Tracy and I worked on the next wall, Wall 6.63. This was the longest one we had to do and it took about 225 photos to finish the entire exterior wall. The following day I worked with Allison and finished the Wall 6.63 and then we moved on to Wall 6.91. This one was short, however, it was steep on some of the sections and it was too dangerous to take photos of the exterior by standing on the other side. The next picture on the right shows Allison holding a pole that the camera can attach to so that we can get the exterior without having to stand in any sketchy places! Thursday was the day I got to put the photos to use! I got to work with two specialists that work with Historic sites and architecture all the time. Eric works with the Historic Preservation Training Center out of Maryland a branch that works with the National Park Service. And Courtney who works with the Vanishing Treasure’sIMG_1202 Program out of Wyoming. Courtney Came in specifically to work on the walls and to recreate an accurate sketch of the wall.  Using AutoCad, Courtney will use the measurements gathered from the field to create the wall with the correct measurements. She will then later use AutoCad to create an accurate 3D model of the wall as well! This data will help us identify original construction from modern repairs. We used the pictures of 6.48 and looked for differences in the wall. For example, looking to see if we could see the original wall versus were it may have been worked on later in the 1980’s. We also looked for differences between mortars. There are 3 different kinds of mortars that are visible in the wall. Each added at a different time. You can tell the original mortars are set between the walls while the ones added are look like they have been slopped on top of the original. The original builders laid stone in different patterns to create aesthetic patterns for visitors.  the patterns consisted of laying stones with their bedding sitting vertical adjacent to stones with their bedding laying horizontal.  The vertical direction of the stones, however, allowed water to enter the stones and causes the stones to erode quicker requiring the preservation work that the crews will be doing this summer.” You can usually tell which rocks are oriented wrong by looking at the which direction the drill marks are and also by making sure the bedding goes in a horizontal way and not vertically. This week was definitely a whole new type of experiences. Hoping that next week I learn something new and exciting as well!  

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