We had the opportunity to volunteer with HistoriCorps preservation of the Miller Ranch Barn on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, WY. The staff was great, safety conscious, organized, and just a pleasure to work with. They provided us with a space for our RV and meals in exchange for days working on the barn. Other volunteers were wonderful, and we made new friends while we learned new skills. We will volunteer with HistoriCorps again!
In 2018, I worked on restoring access to an 1878 female homesteader's cabin in a National Monument in Colorado, a truly satisfying experience. The work was well paced and there was plenty to do, for unskilled laborers like myself who are just interested in helping to preserve some of our historical buildings (but don't have much building experience), as well as people skilled in construction. We camped, which was glorious, and bonded as a team of volunteers from all over the country. I'm definitely going to do more Historicorps projects when I can !
I’ve just completed my first season as a HistoriCorps volunteer, working three different projects and four sessions
It was an amazing personal experience, and hands on opportunity in the great out of doors to learn new skills, while participating in saving pieces of our country's heritage.
Staff were professional, patient in teaching, organized and skilled, also very knowledgeable about each project’s history.
I learned a great deal, and am looking forward to seeing what’s offered in 2019.
If you like camping....if you like carpentry....if you like social experiences....you'll LOVE Historicorps! Not only that, it's a FREE vacation! And you learn a lot, too. Hard to beat all that, especially for the price! Do it. You won't regret it.
I am a Preservation professional and joined HistoriCorps for a week of volunteering at Bodie State Historic Park (California) this summer. It was a fantastic escape from the office, while enriching my professional skills with hands-on preservation work. I think it would be enjoyable and educational for anyone who loves history, old buildings, and dabbling in building/construction work though. Not only that, it was a great camping trip that gave me the opportunity to pitch my tent in a very special spot, enjoy some amazing camp cooking, hang out with fellow volunteers, and even have special access to explore the local historic sites. Considering that it was free room-and-board in exchange for a little manual labor (which was interesting and enjoyable anyway), it was the best working vacation I can imagine. I look forward to finding another project to join next season!
I have volunteered on eight projects with this wonderful organization. The staff began communicating with me immediately after I signed up, telling me what to expect and how to prepare. Each project is staffed by a project supervisor who is experienced in historic rehabilitation, along with a crew leader who is attentive to the needs of the volunteers. All tools are provided, along with three meals per day ... at no charge! Projects take place in scenic places all across the country. I have worked with volunteers ranging in age from fifteen to seventy-five, and after only a few hours together it feels like family. Working to preserve historic places is very satisfying, and the camaraderie of the crew always restores my faith in the power of Americans working together in harmony.
I am a member of the Fremont County Historic Preservation Commission, and our organization partnered with HistoriCorps, the U.S. Forest Service, the Wyoming SHPO, Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, and others to preserve three log cabins known as Simpson Lake Lodge (Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming). HistoriCorps was a crucial partner in the preservation of the Simpson cabins, and because of their efficiency and expertise, the project was completed within the time expected. The final result exceeded our expectations and all of the partners involved were very pleased. This project was unique in that the cabins lie within the Fitzpatrick Wilderness, so there were many challenges to get approval and carry out the preservation work. HistoriCorps was the perfect organization to guide us through the process. They took care of all the logistics and reports and made sure the project complied with all regulations and requirements. HistoriCorps was readily available to answer any questions that I had, and helped me increase my knowledge and gain confidence to write grants, raise funds, and work with government entities. HistoriCorps did an excellent job of recruiting just the right people to work on this project. All materials and supplies were brought in by pack animals, and all of the labor was accomplished with the use of only hand tools. The staff and volunteers were amazing and I can’t thank them enough. We are grateful to everyone at HistorCorps for their significant role in saving Simpson Lake Lodge!
I'm about to do my 4th project with HistoriCorps and each one tops the last. Everyone is amazing to work with and you'll make new friends for life. They teach us new skills on each project like chinking the walls of a 100 yr old cabin. Where else are you going to learn that trick? And the scenery.....wow....we get to camp in some of the most gorgeous areas God ever created. Can't wait for each adventure to begin!
Come on......come join us
Dinner with Dusty Shoes
For two weeks during the summer of 2017, two teams of six Historicorps volunteers worked to restore Rhodes Cabin in Great Basin National Park, Nevada.
Built in the 1920s by Clarence Rhodes, a self-described “restauranteer” and former chauffeur to the Governor of Nevada, the cabin is almost all that remains of a resort from the time when the motor car first enabled visitors to tour the area.
The resort lay close to Lehman’s Caves, named for the man who “discovered” them: Absalom Lehman, pioneer, adventurer, rancher, who like so many before him had come west (in his case from Ohio) in search of wealth and freedom, and who after many far-flung and far-fetched adventures had settled on this spot.
Lehman died in 1891. Years later it was Rhodes who became the caves’ unofficial custodian. Through an arrangement whereby he got to keep “guiding fees”, he gradually created an entire resort with sleeping tents, then a dozen or more sleeping cabins, an “under the arbor” dining room and a tea-room, all with a view to enticing visitors to the caves and encouraging them to linger and explore.
Our stay involved plenty of hard, physical work but like those visitors of yore, we too enjoyed great food, and an opportunity to dwell in beautiful surroundings and meet congenial people. These included Kat, our HistoriCorps Project Manager and the National Park’s archaeologist were always there on to ensure that no inappropriate changes were made to the simple, almost one hundred-year-old structure.
In the course of a week, we tore off the concrete that covered the original roof. We rebuilt the roof; we carefully chipped away the damaged caulking between the logs to replace it where needed. We improved the grading behind the cabin, removed debris from the stone-paved drain that diverts run-off water away from the cabin and its foundation… big and small things to give the little building a new lease on life! For several days, Kat, the Project Manager, experimented with various grades of sand and cement to come up with the right formula to match the existing daubing. No visitor would ever know how much thinking and sampling went into repairing that daubing, and how closely it matched the original.
What was the purpose of all our effort? How many visitors would even notice our unassuming little hut? Probably very few; but those who did would catch a glimpse of what had gone before: of another time, when thousands of people had come to that inhospitable spot and found fun and comfort and modern convenience.
After all, what was it that drew those early carloads of visitors to the caves but curiosity and a sense of adventure and a search for beauty, or at least novelty? And was that so different from how it was with us?
As I stripped dead sagebrush from the bushes around the cabin, an iridescent gleam caught my eye. I picked up a small glass bottle from the undergrowth. A wad of something was wedged in the neck and held in place with a twisted wire. Inside I could see two lumps of black rock. I brought it to the Park’s archaeologist. She glanced at it and handed it back to me.
“Shoe polish,” she said, not in the least bit interested.
At the Lehman Caves resort, who would ever dream of going to dinner with dusty shoes?
I have traveled to Nepal and Tajikistan with Habitat for Humanity, Bolivia with the Fuller Housing Center, and to Cuba with Global Volunteers. For each of these trips, I paid for my expenses plus an additional donation for project materials. I spent a week in April 2017 working on the Thunderbird Barn in Canyon de Chelly, AZ. There were no fees and meals were provided at the camp. My expenses were getting to the project from my home in New Mexico and I chose to stay in a motel rather than camp. No other volunteer organization that I know of that works on housing or historic buildings lets you volunteer without a fee to cover your expenses. The Historicorps staff have the skills for preserving historic buildings and you will learn new skills if you volunteer. In March I will be volunteering again in Bladensburg, MD to work on the historic Bostwick House. Rather than staying for free in an on-site building in a sleeping bag, I found an apartment on Air B&B for $55/night - all tax deductible. Historicorp is a great volunteer organization offering the opportunity to learn new skills, meet interesting new people, and travel domestically for very little money.
My wife and I helped repaint the aging Elitch Theater in Denver back in 2014. The HistoriCorps facilitators were very nice, knowledgeable, patient, and fun to work with. All materials were provided, as well as lunch, and it was a great opportunity to get out into the community, meet people , and keep a spectacular old building in good condition.
My experience as an RV owner, my predisposition to volunteer and my desire to frequent our natural parks and wilderness areas makes HistoriCorps a perfect ﬁt to take my free time to another level. My ﬁrst three experiences with HistoriCorps took me and my RV to Death Valley, Palace Station in the Prescott National Forest, and the Upper Lehman campgrounds in the Great Basin National Park. In all three cases, I camped/parked and toured for free in pristine surroundings while at the same time participating in the restoration of three of the National Park Services archeologically important sites. The HistoriCorps volunteers are a unique community of individuals with diverse skills and amazing stories. The evening campﬁres held all of us captive during the many long hours of conversation recounting unique experiences and travel. I look forward to more events in the next few years and encourage anyone who has the opportunity to take your RV and your energy to a HistoriCorps project. This was my campsite during the Palace Station project; a private mining claim site 10 miles from the nearest pavement. Quiet nights, star ﬁlled skies, some unique wildlife: don’t ﬁnd that in many RV Campgrounds.
I've volunteered for HistoriCorps for 11 sessions in 4 states.
I have nothing but great memories and praise about HistoriCorps and fellow volunteers.
I've had the opportunity to do many things including repairing and rebuilding brick and stone walls and chimneys, removing and replacing deteriorated logs, and removal and replacement of windows and roofing.
The HistoriCorps staff is very good with training and instruction.
They provide well maintained tools, equipment, safety gear and excellent meals.
The volunteers are from all walks of life, young and older, experienced and inexperienced.
Volunteering with HistoriCorps is an incredibly unique way to give back and deepen you connection with a special and historic place you maybe didn't even know existed. You can join projects from coast to coast and border to border and meet incredible people, learn a ton of new practical skills, and find a new interest in the history that binds us together. Here are a few photos from projects in the Rocky Mountains and upper midwest. Everyone is invited to spend a week with a crew!