Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The "Cannon Shop"

During the final week of my internship, Education Specialist Barb Sanders took us interns on a behind the scenes tour of a number of park locations. They included the George Spangler Farm, the David Wills House, and the Cannon Shop. Here, a dedicated team helps restore these original Civil War cannon tubes and War Department gun carriages. It is really quite a process!

The following introduction was written by Victor Gavin, the specialist in charge on monuments preservation: "The cast iron artillery carriages at Gettysburg National Military Park were purchased by the War Department beginning about the year 1895. Procurement of the carriages was completed about 1910. These carriages have thus been exposed to the elements, vandalism, and the ravages of time for a century. By the 1990s, virtually all of the carriages were in poor condition. Because of the many coats of lead paint, and the resulting health issues, no significant rehabilitation occurred from about 1980 until 1996. In 1996, a program to restore the carriages was initiated. This was the first complete restoration of the carriages in their 100 year history. The work began on a small scale; carriage restoration was essentially a part-time effort. Federal funding, and generous support by the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg made a full time restoration program a reality when the Artillery Restoration Facility opened in January 1999."

Some sandblasted carriages yet to be repainted and restored.

This is why the park asks people not to climb on cannons! Most are over 100 years old and are corroding from the inside out. This is why the cannon restoration program is such an important one. Otherwise, there would be far fewer guns on the field today. This particular carriage was positioned at Hampton's Battery in the Peach Orchard.

Some freshly painted carriages. (They have that new cannon smell!) Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Foundation play a large part in this restoration process.

One of the crew sands down a carriage beginning the restoration process.

Joe, one of the dedicated specialists at the shop, was kind enough to show us interns around the place. The facility is always looking for interested volunteers to help them in their mission. If you are interested in volunteering and restoring some history, contact the park via the link to their website on the left. Thanks!

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