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Volunteers repair historic sites in Alaskan wilderness

Manzanita Shelter was constructed by the CCC in the 1930’s. This photo was probably taken shortly after construction. Note the freshly peeled logs and what appear to be extra shake material to the left. Forest Service photo.

JUNEAU, Alaska — A HistoriCorps team returned on July 31, 2017, from their third and final field visit into Misty-Fiords National Monument Wilderness Area on the Tongass National Forest. Under a partnership agreement with the Forest Service, the 5-person crew including two HistoriCorp staff and three volunteers spent several weeks in the field completing the restoration of a Civilian Conservation Corps shelter and major repairs to two cabins on the Tongass National Forest.

Manzanita Shelter after a tree toppled onto it during a windstorm in 2010. Forest Service photo.

The Manzanita Bay shelter, which was severely damaged by a wind event and tree fall nearly in 2010, was originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and later determined eligible to the National Register of Historic Places based on its historic significance and its Adirondack architectural design. The shelter embodies the distinctive characteristics of this type, period, and method of construction making it one of a few remaining CCC-era Adirondack shelters still in existence, and the only one available on the Ketchikan-Misty Fiords Ranger District for public use on salt water. Using hand tools consistent with work in Wilderness, the crew dismantled what was left of the existing structure, numbering each log and noting their position. The team replaced the rotten logs and re-used as many of the salvageable ones as possible to complete the restoration. 

Following their work on the Manzanita Bay shelter, the HistoriCorps crew worked on the Winstanley Cabin and Wilson Narrows Cabin. The cabin work included repairs to roofs, painting, removal of graffiti, and replacement of the Wilson Narrow Cabin foundation.

HistoriCorps’ mission is to save and sustain historic places for public benefit through partnerships that foster public involvement, engage volunteers and provide training and education. It provides volunteers of all skill levels with a hands-on experience preserving historic structures on public lands across America. Volunteers work with HistoriCorps field staff to learn preservation skills and put those skills to work saving historic places that have fallen into disrepair. HistoriCorps works to ensure America’s cultural and historical resources exist for generations to come.

Manzanita Shelter after HistoriCorps’ two staff and 3 interns completed restoration in 2017. Forest Service photo.