In order to care for its historic resources, Rocky Mountain National Park hires historic preservation specialists. Some of these craftsmen learn their skills in a national training program and others learn on the job.
Formal training is through the National Park Service's Historic Preservation Training Center, which is located in Frederick, Maryland. It sponsors a Preservation and Skills Training (PAST) Program for National Park Service maintenance employees stationed throughout the country. The two-year apprentice program involves both hands-on training sessions and formal workshops. Students travel to different NPS sites and work on a variety of historic resources. In between these sojourns, the employees return to work on historic structures at home. Trainees from Rocky have helped re-roof Fort Clatsop, learned masonry skills at Dry Tortugas, and restored cabins in Alaska. In addition to hands-on skills, students learn how to manage historic preservation projects.
Sometimes historic preservation specialists are "found" on site. A recent addition to an historic building in Rocky's Utility Area Historic District required timber framing knowledge. The addition had to "blend" with the original building, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The park historic preservation specialist in charge (a PAST program graduate) borrowed off-season trail workers to do the log work. Their experience on trails, building bridges, steps, and log checks, also gave them the skills needed to frame the addition.
Rocky is one of few parks lucky enough to have several PAST graduates, and many other talented folks, caring for its historic resources.
Interested in learning hand tool skills from a master craftsman? Want to know why historic preservation matters? Sign up for the Rocky Mountain Nature Association Field Seminar on Historic Preservation.