Point Reyes National Seashore Historic Preservation Projects Underway
Contact: John Dell’Osso, 415-464-5135
The cultural heritage preservation program at the National Seashore is working on several projects to preserve the park’s diverse historical resources. The National Seashore maintains over 300 historic structures, several large historic landscapes, a museum collection of over 500,000 artifacts and archival documents, and over 125 prehistoric archeological sites.
The Seashore Historic Preservation Crew is completing rehabilitation work at the Historic B Ranch, near the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Working with the Mendoza Family, the park crew is repairing the historic garages and sheds in the center of the ranch complex. They are also assisting with repairs of the hay barn, which was one of three constructed by Mr. Mendoza’s father on Point Reyes ranches in the 1920s. The crew repairs structural components in-kind, replacing siding, timbers and roofing with like materials, utilizing joinery techniques used historically. This is one of several projects completed recently in the park by the crew.
Because of their skill in preservation carpentry, the Preservation Crew, led by Seashore exhibit specialist Dan Brown, traveled last fall to the Las Flores Adobe at Camp Pendelton to reconstruct the second floor balcony, and to Yosemite National Park where they worked with other preservation crews to rebuild the covered bridge at Wawona. The crew is based at the former Texiera Ranch near Dogtown where they recently constructed a carpentry shop in the old Grade A dairy and are repairing the hay barn.
Park staff and an Americorp crew, working with the Seashore Preservation Crew and the US Coast Guard, recently rehabilitated the historic Coast Guard and G Ranch Cemetery. The cemetery is located on a beautiful knoll overlooking Drakes Estero and contains the headstones and remains of Hinrik Claussen, his wife, and son and daughter-in-law in one fenced area. Hinrik Claussen, a Scandinavian immigrant dairyman, constructed several of the historic Alphabet Ranches established in the late 1800s on the Point Reyes Peninsula. A second cemetery nearby contains the marked graves of four surfmen who died while on duty at the old United States Life-Saving Station on the Great Beach in the 1890s.
The Seashore recently established an Archaeology Site Steward program to monitor the park’s many prehistoric sites. Specially trained volunteers visit sites regularly to report on their condition and ground disturbance, providing the park archaeologist with valuable information for managing and preserving these valuable resources. The park has also begun a fencing project to protect several sites and prevent damage caused by erosion, cattle and human traffic. Work next year will include stabilizing sites where erosion is still occurring. This work comes as the Seashore is completing the computerized mapping of historic and prehistoric archaeological sites throughout the park. Site records, maps and reports dating back to the early 1900s have been digitized and placed into electronic mapping and archive retrieval systems, making this information readily accessible for the first time.
To house the Seashore's extensive museum and archives collection, the park recently constructed a new collection facility in the big Red Barn at Bear Valley. This new facility was needed to properly preserve artifacts and enable better access by researchers and the public. Collections from around the park were consolidated in this climate-controlled facility, a “building within a building,” which is also home to the park research library. This state-of-the-art structure was financed by a combination of private donations, grant, and federal funding, and together with the new classroom next door, greatly enhance the Seashore’s education and research program.
To increase support for the Seashore preservation efforts, the park’s non-profit group, the Point Reyes National Seashore Association, has established a Permanent Fund. This fund will be used to help foster additional projects to protect, for future generations, the cultural heritage of the Point Reyes Peninsula. Information on this opportunity is available by calling the Association at (415) 663-1835.