Video about the process to stabilize Fort Jefferson and why this is important. This project is funded by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
- 6 minutes, 59 seconds
- Credit / Author:
- NPS video by Jennifer Brown
- Date created:
Generally speaking, the park service is really happy with all the work that has been done from year one now through year four.
This is our final year.
It has been a journey of learning and constant improvement and really trying to address every issue that we come across.
It was not until we received the ARRA money that we were finally able to thoroughly address all of the issues going on within the scarp wall of Fort Jefferson to correctly stabilize this structure the way it needs to be done.
So, without doing the stabilization work, we are really in danger of losing significant areas of the superstructure of Fort Jefferson which is a main feature of the Dry Tortugas National Park.
It is an unaltered third-system fortification in an amazing location coupled with phenomenal natural resources.
And, it really is just an incredible place for people to come and spend the day and really get a nice view of what it was like in the 1870s at the Dry Tortugas.
Fort Jefferson is an unreinforced masonry structure.
So, this is entirely built out of coral concrete and bricks.
I am a mason by trade.
I have been in the trade for about twenty years.
This is Fort Jefferson, the second largest masonry structure in the world.
The only thing that beats this is the Great Wall of China.
I have been talking about this place for ten years to my wife.
It is just really an honor to work here.
You just look out and you just see beauty everywhere you look.
It is like no other job I have ever worked on.
You can be having a bad day and you just turn around and look out and it just makes it so much better.
Seeing the ocean, the sky, all the wildlife, pretty cool.
Well, what we have here is this is one of the original iron totten shutter assemblies.
These are impressive massive armaments that are a key identifying historical feature of Fort Jefferson.
Basically, this was armor for this opening.
And, inside here is a gun casemate.
And, everyone of these openings on Fort Jefferson would have had a cannon.
And, the totten shutter assembly was designed in a way that the doors would fly open as the cannon was fired and then they would instantly recoil shut.
And, the pins would lock down into a locking mechanism which would provide almost instantaneous protection for our men that were inside the gun casemate firing the guns.
This was huge in order to protect our men that were firing these cannons.
Over its service life, over the past 150 years in this extreme marine environment, you can see that these iron totten shutters have clearly expanded.
They have created these massive jacking of the brick wall or the scarp wall.
And, this is sort of the essence of our stabilization efforts.
And, we need to remove these totten shutter assemblies and then we are going to rebuild these embrasure openings.
This next embrasure is one step further along in that demolition and rebuild process.
So, again, here you can see all of the original shutter components have been removed.
This area has been cleared off.
We are prepared to rebuild an infill arch.
And, what you are seeing here is for tie backs.
So, they have cut these holes in which they will actually tie back the new arch construction into this existing solid substructure that they have now gotten to.
The infill arch will get reconstructed here.
We will put in replicated shutter components.
And then the embrasure will get reconstructed in front of that.
They were masters, you know, they were master carpenters and masons.
Just the form work to build all of these arches…
You know, today, I have built many, many, many arches in this trade, but not like this.
Not these giant structural arches, it is incredible.
I learned that I have a lot to learn.
Well, I had been unemployed for about five months.
I was getting desperate, I had all of my feelers out.
I was looking at the paper, there were no jobs in the paper.
I called every mason contractor in Miami and I was looking at other trades to make a living.
And, I read an article in the paper one day about how our stimulus money has been put into action.
And, there was a large allotment, I believe seven million dollars to restore Fort Jefferson.
So, I got on the computer and I searched and searched and searched.
I could not find the contractor.
So, finally I contacted the National Park Service and they put me in touch with the Southeastern Regional office.
And then they gave me the name of Enola, the contractor on this job.
One of the best jobs I have ever been on in my life.
It is an honor to be here.
I think it is great, you know, putting people to work.
You know, not only us brick layers, there is other vendors that are involved, the barge operator, the people that supply our supplies from Key West.
It is not just us.
There is a lot of people that have benefitted from this stimulus.
One of the issues that we come across a lot of times is the amount of money that is being spent on stabilizing Fort Jefferson and is it worth it or is it not.
And, I really think that there is a really strong case for: Yeah, it is absolutely worth it.
I mean here is this incredible structure in an incredible location that held so much historic significance on many levels.
It is an amazing cultural resource and it is coupled with some phenomenal natural resources.
And, it is very important that we continue this process and preserve Fort Jefferson.