Burra Burra Mine site in in Ducktown, Tenn., to undergo major restoration

Burra Burra Mine site in in Ducktown, Tenn., to undergo major restoration

November 20th, 2017 by Mark Pace in Local Regional News

Museum director Ken Rush through the Burra Burra mine site on the property of the Ducktown Basin Museum in this file photo. With some restoration projects underway with help from the Tennessee Historical Commission, the museum is the only historic copper mine site open for visitation in the southern U. S.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

The historic Burra Burra Mine site in Ducktown, Tenn., will receive more renovations thanks to a public-private partnership and some state funding.

An additional $2.3 million in this year's state budget will be used to rehabilitate 12 of the approximately 15 structures on the site. The renovations will bring the overall project cost close to $4 million after $1.5 million was used to restore buildings on the site in 2014. It is expected to be the second and final phase of the restoration.

"This is not just fixing a door; this is restoration," Ducktown Basin Museum site manager Ken Rush said. "We're taking structures back to what they looked like in the 1930s and '40s. So it is a true restoration."

The site is owned by the state, administrated by the Tennessee Historical Commission and operated by the nonprofit Ducktown Basin Museum. The facility is now used for historical and educational purposes but during its heyday was a hub of copper mining throughout the early- to mid-20th century. It is the only historic copper mine site open for visitation in the southern U.S.

The money will primarily be used for exterior repairs to restore the structures to their former glory. The biggest part of the project will be the restoration of the main mine office which now serves as the museum and visitors' entrance. Aluminum siding that was added in the '60s will be restored to the original clapboard siding underneath. Some other exterior work and window repair and replacement will also be done.

"That way people can look and see what it was actually like," Dan Brown with the Tennessee Historical Commission said.

The project hasn't gone out for bid, yet, but Rush estimated it will go out at the beginning of 2018. Work is then scheduled to begin in May 2018, assuming there's a winning bid that comes in under budget.

The repairs also will help the facility last longer, project architect Trey Wheeler said.

"As buildings age, they fall into disrepair and its seems to get exponentially worse over time," he said. "This will get them stabilized so they will last a good bit longer. If we do our job really well, no one will know we were there. They will look like they did a long time ago."

Contact staff writer Mark Pace at mpace@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.