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It has been a long time since we got the idea to move and restore the block house at Fort Yargo. When we got approval from the state and the plans were approved in Nov. of 2004, things started to move rather fast. I do not know about the others, but it was a little bit of a shock. Now that we have the go- ahead, we now have to make it happen.
The state approved the plans for the foundation that were drawn up by Bramblett and Associates in November of 2004. December came, and the park got the trenches for the footing dug, poured the concrete for the footings, and laid the block for the foundation . With the foundation set, we started getting ready for the move. A moving company that specializes in historic buildings put the block house up on beams to get it ready for the move.
The real work of moving started with the chimney coming down. The park brought in a backhoe and we pulled the top down first. When that stone hit the ground it was a sure sign that there was no changing ours minds now. All the old stone was removed (not original) and placed on a truck to be hauled away. We then spent a couple of weekends removing the roof and rafters. The old boards that the roof was nailed to were badly damaged by powder puff beetles and had to be thrown away.
The park then cut a road up to the main highway and the wait for the actual move started. Finally, the day came and the movers came in with their jacks, trucks, and workers, picked up the blockhouse, and hauled it to the new site.
Now the real work started!
One weekend was spent putting the rafters back up. Roofers were then able to come in and put on a new shingle roof. No, it is not period correct, but few will know. The rain water had to be kept out. The new roof looks good and the color has already grayed so that it looks old, and more period correct. Also located on park land was an old shed that was falling down and a hazard. It was sided with old mill cut boards, which are just what we needed for the gable ends. We stripped the boards from the old shed and fitted them to the block house. They look like they were always there.
Most of the window openings now have hand forged hinges as do the doors. As our blacksmith makes more we will change the leather or modern hinges with correct ones.
Artie Dougherty, Senior Ranger of Fort Yargo's park staff, did most of the foundation and chimney work. He did a perfect job, and unless a person crawled under the blockhouse, no one would ever know that it had a concrete foundation.
While Artie was working on the stone work the Fort Yargo Living History Society and the Coalition of Historical Trekkers were putting the chinking in place. Wanting things as period correct as possible, we checked around with other living history sites and got the best recipe for the chinking filler. What a chore! This took about 4 or 5 weekends, and was dirty, dirty work. No one came away with out some cut or splinter in their hand.
The "Friends of Fort Yargo" not only raised most (if not all) of the funds for this project, but made crushed stone walks around the blockhouse, and brought in and spread bark chips over an area of 70' out from front and back and 35' to the sides of the blockhouse. In our spare time, we put up a split rail fence around two sides of the parking area.
It is good to see members of living history groups, the Friends group, parks personnel, and town's people, all working together to save a historic building from rotting away and taking with it all of the stories and legends associated with it. At one point, I counted around 35 people at the site at one time. It would have been a shame if people had to tell their kid about the old blockhouse, instead of being able to show it to them.
July 2nd of 2006, when the rededication was held, would have been a good time to say, We are done. What we did instead, was tell the parks we would soon have the plans for the stockade walls and other out buildings in their hands for approval. They now, as of August 22, 2006, have the plans in their hands, and initial projects to start the recreation of the Humphrey Brother's Trading Station at Jug Tavern have been approved.
We start work on the outdoor cook shed and smoke house in September. Future work will be done with period tools and in period fashion.
None of this would be remotely possible were it not for the Friends of Fort Yargo, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Parks Department, The Winder Barrow News, the Coalition of Historical Trekkers, and the businesses and people of Winder, Georgia.
Doc surrounded by vistors under the cookshed during Autumn Nights
The smokehouse is completed. The meat we have smoked was very tasty.
July we had to rechink (replace the mud) on the blockhouse and beehive oven.
The kids had too much fun and are looking forward for next year's Chinking Party
Looks like every year in July we will have to do this again
The blacksmith shop is finally finished
The cook shelter had to be removed. Plans are in the making for a new, better, bigger shelter.
Plans are underway also for a hunter's cabin, tinsmith's shop and a woodworking shop. It won't be long until the stockade will be started.
This year we tried a new "Autumn Nights" theme
"Tales from the Past" Trailwalk and Hayride.
Next year should prove to be better, bigger and hopefully more enjoyable for the whole family
None of this would be remotely possible were it not for the Friends
of Fort Yargo, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Parks Department, the COHT, and the businesses and
people of Winder, Georgia.
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