Heritage Documentation

Protecting the resource, enhancing the experience

Pano photo, CAIRO
Pano photo of USS CAIRO, Vicksburg NMP
Paul Davidson

Quick Facts


A Call to Action
Action Item:
Go Digital
Also Promotes:
History Lesson
Year Accomplished:

Call to Action Item 17, Go Digital, challenges the NPS to bring its on-line presence into the 21st Century by strategically integrating national parks and community-based programs and by embracing social networks, on line and mobile information options.  In the spirit of that challenge, Heritage Documentation Programs (Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey established a YouTube Channel to further engage youth, diverse populations, friends, alumni, project sponsors, and others interested in the recording of America's architectural, engineering and landscape heritage through measured drawings, written historical reports and large-format photography. The Channel will permit the Programs to post videos about current documentation projects and to explore innovative ways to present and interpret historic resources.

 The first video posted on the HDP YouTube Channel, a fly-through animation of the Civil War-era ironclad U.S.S. CAIRO at Vicksburg NMP, is developed from data collected by HDP using high-definition laser scans; it can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/user/hdpnps, along with a fly-through of historic Castle Pinckney in Charleston, SC.   The CAIRO fly-through is comprised of more than 80 individual registered scan stations taken with the Leica ScanStation2 laser scanner. High-Dynamic-Range panoramic photos, images that provide optimum exposures over various lighting conditions, texture the point cloud rendered and animated in Pointools software. The video is actually a by-product of formal documentation to the more rigorous Secretary of the Interior's Standards produced by the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Maritime Recording Program in partnership with the Historic Preservation Training Center and Vicksburg NMP for inclusion in the HABS/HAER/HALS Collection at the Library of Congress.  

The animated point cloud provides a powerful visual aid for use by project sponsors.  In the case of the CAIRO, the ship's fragility precludes public access to its interior, so the fly-through offers the public an opportunity to experience an important historic ship while the park continues to protect it, an excellent example of utilizing digital technology for cultural resource preservation.