- Published on Thursday, 19 July 2012 11:34
- Written by Pat Kolafa | © DrumhellerMail.com
Running a designated National Historic Site, the staff are jacks of all trade. There is the day-to-day responsibility of running the facility, making sure visitors’ experiences are memorable, securing funding, and improving infrastructure.
Did I mention a worldwide search for red rolled roofing material?
The Atlas Coal Mine has been approved for an Alberta Historical Resources Foundation grant for $85,000. This funding is for fixing and replacing the roof on the famous tipple. The entire project is about double the grant so they are still looking for matching donations.
“They made a commitment to us for reroofing the whole tipple and conveyor complex,” said Linda Digby, executive director of the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site. “It’s way overdue (the roofing) makes the building vulnerable and getting a good cap on it is most important.”
She expects the project will take upwards of two years as they work with the funding they have. They will start work on the most damaged parts this summer.
As challenging as it is to reroof a gigantic structure such as the tipple is to do it within the guidelines of a historic resource.
“We are committed to following the standards and guidelines for conservation of historic places in Canada … part of that is using the same materials that were used originally if possible,” said Digby.
She said over the last few years the tipple has had major work completed, mostly in regards to stabilization. At that time one of the reasons the roofing was not done was the lack of the original red asphalt roofing material.
“We spent two years looking for red rolled roofing,” said Digby. “It was always red roofing, it was cheap and was the standard for industrial roofing for that time. The bad news is it takes more maintenance and doesn’t last as long as other material so we have to constantly be fiddling with it.”
“We were looking all over the world. It appears the manufacturers quit making red. The red roof was very character defining. It was very visible when you approach the site from all angles, especially now when you are coming down from the mine entry on the tunnel tour. You have an excellent view of the acres and acres of red roof. So we really didn’t want to change that.”
She said this spring they learned another historic mine site in Nordegg had sourced out the material they needed and there is an Alberta dealer.
“We are really happy going forward with the project knowing that we can secure the proper materials,” said Digby. “As a tourist attraction and as a designated National Historic Site, it is our flagship and the building is the biggest reason for our high level of historic designation. With this unique tipple structure, there is nowhere else in North America that we can see anything remotely like it.”
The Atlas also received a commitment from Alberta Historic Resources Foundation for $34,000 towards assessing the entire tipple.
“This is something that will be a great tool for planning the long-term preservation and stewardship of the tipple. This is a complete structural assessment,” said Digby. “We are going to go through and test every single timber, we are going to check every joint for moisture, we are going to look for any evidence of structural failure, we are going to get an engineering model of how well the structure is carrying the load and if there is anything we need to look at in terms of protection. Then we will come up with a plan that will allow us over the next two years to focus on whatever priority repairs and avoid any big surprises.”