Stone mason crews busy preserving history at Colorado National Monument

FRUITA, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- Workers at the Colorado National Monument are carving into the historic walls, but not to build something new. They’re working to preserve Rim Rock Drive.

For the past year and a half, special stone masonry crews have been working alongside the road to help fix the stone walls. They've been there since the 1930s.

"This is a way of continuing the past into today and hopefully for many, many years into the future,” said Arlene Jackson, the chief of interpretation at the monument.

In the 1930's, young men joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, putting them to work to repair historic preservation projects across the country, living in campsites and being paid only $30 a month.

"It's a piece of history and it’s part of the park and it's very important that we don't lose our history over the edge of the canyon or have it eroded away by wind, rain, and snow,” said Stone Mason Scott Bajac.

The Civilian Conservation Corps were the ones who chiseled and hauled the rocks to their final resting place along Rim Rock Drive.

“Our technology has just gone leaps and bounds. Also, having mechanized machines means we can move stones around and heavy equipment, as opposed to those guys that are doing it with ropes and pulleys, dynamite, quarrying their own stones, so we have it pretty easy,” said Banjac.

For now, it’s all about keeping the history alive for generations to come.

"It seems like historic stone masonry is a dying trade and so a lot of the techniques that we are doing now are exactly the same as the CCC did back in the 1930’s," said Dan Hallet the Monument's facility management chief. "When you look at an individual stone you can see the chisel marks that those masons did when they were working and so just for us to emulate that historic trade in the current today is pretty rewarding."

Six walls have already been fixed for minor touch ups or for complete rock replacements, hauling in new rocks, mortaring gaps and chiseling formations.

"This particular wall we are currently working on actually holds the roadway up for about one-hundred feet and it also provides a barrier, some protection against a lot of the many drop-offs that occur along Rim Rock Drive near the canyon,” said Masonry Crew Work Leader Heath Martin.

The group is about halfway through the four-year repair project.

The monument is open as normal, but drivers are asked to be aware of their construction zones along Rim Rock Drive.

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