Jan 5

A cannon carriage undergoing restoration in the Gettysburg National Military Park Cannon Shop. The shinier spokes on the wheel in the foreground are new, and have been replaced during the restoration process. This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

We had an opportunity yesterday afternoon to visit the National Park Service’s Cannon Shop, located in downtown Gettysburg just off of 4th Street (near York Street). The cannon above the door marks the entrance to the NPS’s side of the building. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

Our guide for most of our tour will be Joe Catchings, Preservation Specialist for the Gettysburg National Military Park. Joe is standing in the entrance office to the Cannon Shop — we’ll let him introduce us to the space and show us around the office. This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

In our first video, Joe Catchings introduced us to the office and takes us to meet preservation worker, Brian Knepper.

The office has a number of historic photographs and items that Joe mentioned in the video. Here is the “United States Gettysburg Battlefield Commission Cast and Wrought Iron Gun Carriage” diagram. This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

We’ll let Joe Catchings explain this “Cannon Carriage In Progress” Board in the next video. This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

In this video, Joe Catchings tells us how many carriages are left to restore and return to the field, and goes into more detail about how the National Park Service acquired the current space for the cannon shop. Previously, all the welding and painting of the carriages was taking place in the Monument Shop and securing this space was very important.

Here is a closer look at the map created by volunteer Bruce Vanisacker that shows the artillery/battery positions so the carriages can be easily restored to the field. This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

At the end of the first video, Joe began to introduce us to Brian Knepper. Brian is primarily responsible for metal frabrication and cannon restoration. This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

Brian Knepper explains what his job entails in the cannon shop and shows us the carriage that he is currently working on, as well as discussing some of the many challenges of working in historical preservation on Gettysburg’s cannon carriages.

Here is a close-up of the carriage that Brian was working on when we arrived. This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

All of the cracks and seams in the metal must be filled to protect the carriages from their biggest threat: moisture. This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

Brian answers our question about the primary cause of deterioration in the carriages and shows us some of the defects in the original metalworking.

Artillery pieces have lots of hooks and fasteners. Spare parts for the hundreds of carriages that need restoration work are located in many places in the shop. This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

The cast-iron carriages were originally deployed to the field in the 1890s. Before the carriage gets to this point in the shop where Brian can address it, it has to be stripped of lead paint. This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

Then Brian can begin the painstaking process of working with century-old metal of often poor quality, fixing cracked axles/spokes and replacing what cannot be repaired. This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

This pallet holds mostly damaged/cracked spokes from the carriage wheels. This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

Here is the rim of a wheel that Brian was working on when we first met him. This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

In our last video with Brian, he shows us a carriage that preservation worker Michael Wright is working on. Michael was not present while we were in the shop, but you can see him in our coverage of the restoration of the 4th New York Battery in November of last year.

In the next part of this series, Joe Catchings will show us more of the cannon shop. Our thanks to the National Park Service for giving us this behind-the-scenes look at the dedicated workers and volunteers involved in the restoration process. This view was taken at approximately 3:45 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.


About Us  •  Support  •  Archives  •  Subscribe  •  Creative Commons License