The Preservation of Historic Structures
How old is the building you are standing in? What was it used for? How was it constructed? Is it true to its original appearance and design? Answers to questions like these provide the basis for preserving the cultural resources of Pipe Spring National Monument.
The value of Research and Information
Archeology has become an important tool at Pipe Spring. Historical archeology can often reveal hints about original features of buildings and daily life of the occupants. The first historical archeology project at Pipe Spring occurred in 1959 when the Whitmore Dugout, the earliest pioneer structure, was excavated. The number of items found during the excavation was minimal. Layers of ash and charcoal tell us the dugout was used as a trash dump and burning area for many years. The variety of objects found pointed to a very basic life on the frontier.
Metal objects found in the Whitmore dugout excavation ranged from nails, part of a buckle, piece of a bridle, a few cans, ammunition, and a piece of a harmonica. Ceramic objects included pieces of basic stoneware, some crockery, and a few glass shards. Clothing items included buttons, pieces of shoes and boots, and a comb. Axe or saw-cut animal bones tell us that sheep and cattle were the only large animals eaten. Various bird bones, corn cobs, and peach seeds were also found.
Prior to rebuilding the cabin roofs in the 1990s, archeologists conducted studies inside and outside the buildings. Among other things, these studies verified historical information that one portion of the East Cabin was built several years prior to the other. It was discovered that the back wall of the "breezeway" between the two rooms of the East Cabin matched up with the back wall of the south room, but not the back wall of the north room, indicating the south room and breezeway were built at the same time and most likely after the north room. This study also revealed that the East Cabin was partially built over an Ancestral Puebloan roasting pit or hearth.
Repointing has also evolved over the years. Early on, the NPS used a mortar mixture with a high percentage of cement along with lime and local sand and clay. This mixture was very hard, durable, and lasted for years. However, it was discovered that this hard mortar formed a barrier around the sandstone blocks through which moisture could not escape. This moisture increased the deterioration of the sandstone masonry. A softer mortar mixture of lime, local sand, clay, and less cement, which allows moisture to move through it, is now used to best preserve the masonry.
In 2006 it was discovered that the massive door frame for the big wooden gates on the east side of Winsor Castle was deteriorating (it had last been replaced in 1949). First the overlying sandstone blocks were marked as they were removed, so they could be precisely replaced. Then the entire door jamb was removed–the lintel (beam above the gates), side posts, and threshold. The lintel was replaced with a steel beam for strength and durability and encased in wood to maintain the original appearance. The side posts and threshold were replaced with new ponderosa pine posts. All the new wood was treated to reflect the appearance of the original framing. This project corrected a structural inadequacy of the building while retaining the original appearance. All changes were thoroughly documented for future reference.
Did You Know?
On January 19, 1854, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints adopted the Deseret alphabet. The new alphabet consisted of 38 to 40 characters and was developed mostly by George D. Watt. It was an attempt to help simplify spelling in the English Language.