Landscapes

Happy Anniversary, Lady Liberty

Posted on: October 28th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

The Statue of Liberty (Photo: National Park Service)

The Statue of Liberty (Photo: National Park Service)

Written by Denise Ryan

Today (Friday, Oct. 28) is the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. I think it is universal that everyone loves our Lady Liberty like we love baseball, apple pie and freedom. She is an inspiration to many and was a welcome site for many emigrating from distant lands arriving in New York harbor after a long voyage. In October 1924 President Calvin Coolidge created a new National Monument for her through the Antiquities Act.  If you've been paying attention, we are hoping President Barack Obama will use the Antiquities Act soon to establish a National Monument at Fort Monroe in Virginia - another very important location in the quest for freedom in America.

While we wait for that fine day, we can now get a look at the world from the new web cams located on Liberty's flame known as the Torch Cam or you can watch a little bit of a tribute to Liberty in the movie Ghostbusters II when Bill Murray pokes a little fun at her monument status 30 seconds into the clip.  Enjoy!

Denise Ryan is the program manager for public lands policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Safeguarding Our Treasures in a Changing Climate

Posted on: September 8th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Written by Anthony Veerkamp

Exterior adobe failure of the west sanctuary window at Tumacácori National Historical Park, 2010. (Photo: Tumacácori National Historical Park)

The National Park Service sometimes has a hard time getting the word out about the good work that it does. No one will ever forget the story of the million-dollar outhouse, but meanwhile successful resource stewardship partnerships performed on budgets that are the federal equivalent of loose change found under the sofa cushions go unnoticed.

Case in point: the Vanishing Treasures Program. Active in 45 National Park units in the arid West, the program seeks to preserve threatened park cultural resources while providing technical assistance to other governmental agencies, tribes, and local communities. In the dozen or so years that Vanishing Treasures has been around, it has largely flown under the radar. That’s a shame, as the program represents the National Park Service at its best.

Just the name “Vanishing Treasures” should be enough to get some attention. While many federal programs have names that seem designed to convey as little information as possible (with the coup de grace often provided by an unwieldy acronym) “Vanishing Treasures” is a name that pulls no punches. After all, to vanish is more emphatic than, say, to “disappear”—I say “vanish”, you say “into thin air”. Just in case the urgency was lost on anyone, the program’s original long-range plan - “Vanishing Treasures: A Legacy in Ruins”  - hammered the point home.

As originally conceived, Vanishing Treasures sought to address the shortcomings of the NPS cultural resource stewardship in the context of slow, incremental natural deterioration of resources, recognizing that some misguided past interventions were failing and needed to be corrected.

The program’s 2010 annual report subtitled “A Climate of Change,” calls into question some of those underlying assumptions regarding the predicable pace of change. In her introduction, Program Director Virginia Salazar-Halfmoon unequivocally states that “climate change is now an accepted reality.” In fact, the NPS has been working on climate change-related issues for some time, as outlined in an article in the report by Project Historian Chris Johnson called “Where Nature and History Meet: A Historical Perspective on the National Park Service Response to Climate Change.”

The report notes the perennial gap between natural and cultural resources. While natural resource managers in the NPS have been studying the impacts of climate change for decades, Jeremy M Moss, Chief of Resources Management at Tumacácori National Historical Park, notes that “cultural resource managers have just begun thinking about the effects of global warming and climate change on archeological sites and historic structures.” Part of that challenge, Ms. Salazar-Halfmoon states, “is to work with those who are studying the natural environment to understand how their research may apply to the variety of preservation issues and methods that we are using to maintain our cultural sites.”

Given the political minefield that climate change has become, it is understandable, if a bit frustrating, that the report’s authors tiptoe so carefully around questions of causality; after all, when we say “smoking causes cancer” we don’t feel the need to qualify that with “although no specific case of cancer can be unequivocally blamed on smoking.”

Still, that’s a mere quibble. The NPS and the Vanishing Treasures Program are to be commended for taking on the challenge of climate change, recognizing that we may find that “the preservation treatments we have applied in the past may not be appropriate in a future altered by climate change.”

As Ms Salazar Halfmoon says “this is just the beginning of a dialog that needs to occur to ensure that we are prepared to address the preservation needs of a changing future.”

Anthony Veerkamp is the Director of Programs at the Western Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Alaska Field Report: Preservation in the Wild

Posted on: September 6th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Brian R. Turner

Forest Service archaeologist Martin Stanford hiking in the Tongass National Forest. (Photo: Brian R. Turner)

Stewarding historic and cultural properties within Alaska’s vast network of public lands is not only technically and physically challenging, it can be downright dangerous.   On a recent field visit to a remote site deep within the Misty Fjords National Monument, a floatplane dropped me and three Forest Service employees on the shores of a pristine bay, about an hour’s flight from the nearest road in Ketchikan.

Our purpose was to conduct a basic conditions assessment of the oldest stone masonry structure in the state, a half hour walk through the bush from the shore.  As we set out, I watched in anticipation as Forest Service archaeologist Martin Stanford loaded a shotgun and slung it on his back to guard against a bear attack – standard procedure.   Eagles, gulls and herons were the only visible signs of life, and we hoped to keep it that way.  In addition to the gun, hard hats, waterproof boots, mosquito repellant, and bushwhacking skills were essential.

Storehouse #3, as the site is known, was built by U.S. Army Captain David Gaillard and a team of stone masons in 1896.  The builder would later gain fame for spearheading the central cut of the Panama Canal, the Gaillard Cut, one of the great engineering feats of the 20th Century.  Gaillard’s goal in building the storehouse, one of four, was to prove U.S. use of the land in a boundary dispute with Canada, later resolved in arbitration.  It was apparent that #3 was built with exceptional skill considering it has survived for so long in the harsh conditions of the Southeast Alaska wilderness.

Storehouse #3, circa 1896, is the oldest stone masonry structure in Alaska. (Photo: Brian R. Turner)

The storehouse is an important reminder that humans have left their mark in even the most remote places on earth.   Naturally, in a state as vast as Alaska, with over 222 million acres of public land (bigger than Texas and Oklahoma combined), it is a tremendous aspiration for federal lands agencies to identify and protect every tangible and intangible reminder of 10,000+ years of human occupation.  But appreciating how humans survived in Alaska’s harsh environment helps us better understand our own connection with the wild.  Further, what we protect now will help future generations maintain a key connection to the past.

Undoubtedly, historic and cultural sites both above and below the ground, are disappearing every day in Alaska.  Many have never been recorded.  Some of the most rapid deterioration is being wrought by a changing climate.  On the shores of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, last year the Army Corps of Engineers observed that half of the archaeological sites it documented in 1982 have vanished.  These places were claimed by the rising seas, a unique irony given the battle against petroleum drilling on the Refuge that has now made ANWR a household name.

Landscape surrounding the “stone lady,” a culturally significant property to the Yup’ik on the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo: Brian R. Turner)

Not surprisingly, federal funding for any proactive survey of our public lands is at a record low.  Heritage professionals in National Parks, Forests, and Wildlife Refuges around the country must be exceptionally resourceful with limited budgets, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Alaska.  The Fish and Wildlife Service, for instance, employs just one (very dedicated) archaeologist to oversee more than 78 million acres of public land.

Not all the news is dire.  Though rare, partnerships with Native communities, museums, and volunteers have been essential.  The Kodiak Island National Wildlife Refuge has documented more than 1000 human habitation sites thanks to help from the very inspirational staff at the Alutiiq Museum.  The museum also runs a community archaeology program that works with locals on Kodiak, and youth in particular, and has helped foster a sense of community identity and pride.  Another successful federal policy on Alaska public lands has been permitting access to public lands for subsistence hunting and food gathering which is critical for the survival of traditional ecological knowledge.

As anyone who has visited Alaska is well aware, the state’s size and the resourcefulness of its people make it undoubtedly unique.  And, though it may be often overlooked by those who visit the state expecting the purity of an “untrammeled” wilderness, history worthy of preservation abounds.

Brian R. Turner is a Regional Attorney at the Western Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

New Visions for Kentucky's Coal Country

Posted on: August 25th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 


The Kentucky side of Black Mountain showing all mountaintops intact. (Photo: Flickr user iLoveMountains.org)

Written by Karen Nickless

In an earlier post I discussed the National Windows Preservation Standards Summit (sponsored by the Preservation Trades Network) that was held from July 22-July 29 at Pine Mountain Settlement School in the mountains of Kentucky. The goal of the Summit was to provide unbiased energy testing data for historic windows and to develop industry guidelines for the treatment of historic windows. The Summit garnered national press from The New York Times  to the trade publication Window and Door

The Summit focused on conserving our built environment, which of course benefits the natural environment. It was fitting that the Summit was held at Pine Mountain Settlement School. Founded in 1913 to serve the isolated Southeast Kentucky mountain community, the school's mission shifted in the 1970s to become a center for environmental education. Ironically, Pine Mountain’s 625 pristine acres sit in Harlan County, the heart of coal country. Coal is omnipresent, from the coal trucks on the mountain roads to bumper stickers that declare, “If You Don’t Like Coal, Don’t Use Electricity.”

While I was at the Summit I took an afternoon to visit the towns of Benham and Lynch. Benham and Lynch sit at the foot of Black Mountain, which was on the Trust’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2010. Benham and Lynch were once model company towns with thriving local businesses and a hospital and schools provided by the coal company. Now Benham and Lynch are economically depressed and many old and historic buildings stand empty. The towns are developing heritage tourism, with attractions such as the Portal 31 exhibition mine and the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum.

Both illustrate that coal mining is an industry with a proud history, but mining coal has changed. Where deep shaft miners once brought the coal to the surface, now the coal is accessed by surface mining, often with an extraction method known as mountaintop removal, which literally removes the summit of a mountain to access coal. Mountaintop removal decimates flora and fauna and deposits debris into nearby creeks. The removal of mountaintops can cause dangerous flooding and rock slides. In 2005, on the Virginia side of Black Mountain, a three-year-old boy died when a boulder dislodged at a mountaintop removal site struck his house.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Rehabilitating a Wyoming Dude Ranch with HistoriCorps

Posted on: August 17th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Jenny Buddenborg

HistoriCorps operates in the Rocky Mountain region, but accepts volunteers from across the country.

The Mountains/Plains Office of the National Trust partnered with HistoriCorps in early August to bring volunteers together for the stabilization and rehabilitation of three buildings at the Double D Ranch located in the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming - the first federally protected National Forest in the United States.  Nestled amongst the Absaroka Mountains, the site is just southwest of the small town of Meeteetse (Shoshone for “meeting place”) and five miles below the abandoned mining town of Kirwin.  It is an old homestead turned dude ranch eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

The ranch land was homesteaded in the 1890s and purchased by Carl and Vera Dunrud in 1931.  The Dunruds set about using the site as a guest ranch that operated until 1945.  Over the years Carl himself built many of the buildings.  The site includes a barn, cabins, dugout, lodge, garage with stone walls, and an outhouse.

The ranch offered activities for relaxation and recreation in a remote location, including a masonry swimming pool that would have provided a fairly chilly dip, it being at an elevation greater than 9,000 feet.  Its guests included Amelia Earhart and her husband George Putnam, an acquaintance of Carl Dunrud’s.  They stayed in the one-room log cabin nestled in a corner of the ranch with a front porch angled towards Jojo Creek.

The Dunruds owned the ranch and surrounding land until 1959 when it was sold to the American Metals Climax Corporation who in turn sampled the area for ore, discovering rich deposits of copper and molybdenum.  The company eventually ceased its explorations due to fluctuating ore prices and a negative public view of open-pit mining.  In 1992, the Mellon Foundation and The Conservation Fund purchased the companies’ holdings, which included the Kirwin mining district, and donated both the mining district and the Double D Ranch site to the U.S. Forest Service.

At the time the Forest Service acquired the site, the Double D Ranch buildings had suffered from years of deferred maintenance and neglect.  But there was strong local sentiment for their preservation that has held over the years.  Descendants of Carl and Vera Dunrud still live in the area, so the Double D Ranch history is alive and well.  With support from the Shoshone National Forest and a grant from Wyoming’s Abandoned Mine Land Program, the stabilization and rehabilitation of the Double D Ranch buildings became a recent reality.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.