Battlefield upgrades waiting on money

Battlefield upgrades waiting on money

January 24th, 2011 by Clint Cooper in News

Staff File Photo by Gillian Bolsover Sam Weddle talks about the repairs needed to monuments at the Sherman Reservation on Missionary Ridge in this file photograph. The Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park is awaiting funding for repairs and maintenance on park properties.

The repainting of nearly 1,000 Civil War plaques on the Chickamauga Battlefield and Missionary Ridge in November is just the start of a work list for the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

But the rest is waiting for 2011 funding to be approved.

"I hope it's around the corner," said park resources manager Jim Szyjkowski. "We've got a lot of stuff in the queue."

Although the 150th anniversary of area Civil War battles is less than three years away, most of the projects involve ongoing maintenance, he said.

High on the list, Szyjkowski said, is preservative care of the five large monuments along Missionary Ridge.

The plan is to bring in specialists from the Historic Preservation Training Center in Frederick, Md., to assess the monuments' condition, rejoin seams that need to be restored and clean the bronze, Szyjkowski said.

WAITING FOR REPAIR

Five Civil War monuments on Missionary Ridge are on the list for preservation:

The Iowa monument at the foot of the ridge in Rossville

The Illinois monument on Bragg Reservation

The Ohio monument at the Ohio Reservation

The Minnesota monument at DeLong Reservation

The Iowa monument at Sherman Reservation

Source: Jim Szyjkowski, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

"It's probably been 100 years since it was cleaned," he said. However, "we probably won't have the money to do them all."

John Culpepper, chairman of the Georgia Civil War Commission and a member of the board of directors of Friends of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, said the monument refurbishment is the biggest challenge.

But he said the ongoing project to eliminate invasive privet and create a view similar to that during the war is also important.

"It is a national treasure," he said of the park. "And it's one of the best economic engines that [we], on the border, as a gateway to the battlefields, have."

Szyjkowski said money also has been requested to recast stolen bronze tablets at Sherman Reservation and stolen markers in Chickamauga Battlefield, and to restore the eagle atop the monument at Cravens House on the side of Lookout Mountain.

"It's made of copper," Szyjkowski said. "We thought it was bronze. It's copper oversheet on armature, and the armature is corroded."

Park facilities manager Don Stephenson said when money is available, his maintenance crew will replace the Cravens House's wooden shake roof and its adjacent kitchen and will paint the house and all other park buildings.

"We have to compete with other parks [for money for such projects]," he said. "We do very well."

Stephenson said his staff expects to replace the handrails on the Wilder Tower stairway and the safety rails at the top of the tower, as well as the garage doors on the park's maintenance facility.

Other projects on the list include removing hazardous trees, cleaning plaques and monuments, replacing cannon carriages and parts, and doing maintenance on the Chickamauga Battlefield visitors center and the Brotherton and Alexander Bridge roads.