This poster is part of Preserving U.S. Military Heritage: WWII to the Cold War, Fredericksburg, Texas, June 4-6, 2019.
by Dr. Kira E. Kaufman and Carey L. Baxter
Fort McCoy is the oldest, active federal military installation in Wisconsin. The original portion of the installation, Old Camp McCoy, was established in 1908 and was located in an administrative area now referred to as South Post. Camp McCoy was one of the first regional maneuver camps established under the administration of Theodore Roosevelt, by then Secretary of War, William Howard Taft.
In the depression years, and just before World War II, Fort McCoy employed people from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) for on-base projects. Their work between 1935 and 1941 made significant contributions to the national defense efforts within Wisconsin, and provided economic stimulus for Monroe County communities. One of their projects on Fort McCoy was to construct two sets of paired, stone gates. The WPA’s Stone Gates project was completed just months before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. These landmark entrance structures into Fort McCoy, from Highways 21 and 16, are the only remaining structures constructed by the WPA at Fort McCoy and are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A.
The Highway 21 gates were the main entrance before the North Post cantonment was constructed in 1942. These gates are made of limestone, sandstone, and concrete with a masonry, un-coursed rubble cladding base and a cobweb, puzzle rubble cladding upper. The Highway 16 gates mark an entrance into Camp McCoy from Highway 16. These gates are made of limestone, sandstone and concrete with cement-capped base and cement-capped pillars.
In 1996, portions of the Highway 16 gates, affected by time and natural weathering, were repaired according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. Additionally at that time, the mature White Pine trees planted just after construction along the north side of the gate walls were incorporated into a routine pruning program to maintain the design’s integrity while allowing for more airflow around the gates. However, these strategies did not alleviate all deterioration and moisture retention remained an issue. In 2018, these trees were removed to avoid ongoing damage from low branches and root systems, which appear to have increased water retention close to the wall foundations. The trees were replaced with small white pine saplings at a further distance from the walls in an effort to address moisture retention while maintaining the historic integrity of design.
Re-occurring high ground water table at the Highway 16 gates and inclement weather conditions of freeze and thaw cycles, continue to result in excessive moisture absorption by the gate’s concrete mortar and a subsequent deterioration of exterior surfaces for both sets of gates. Most recently, Fort McCoy worked with the US Army Corps of Engineers, ERDC-CERL, who has developed the expertise for three-dimensional laser-scanning of architectural structures. The goal of this project used state-of-the-science technology to document both sets of these historic structures in an effort to develop a maintenance plan with recommendations to reduce structure deterioration as well as to repair and better conserve these military features.
Kira Kaufmann holds Ph.D. in anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology and specialties in archaeo-geophysics and Geographic Information Systems from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Additionally, she holds an MA in anthropology from Florida State University with a specialty in submerged site analysis and a BA in anthropology from Northern Illinois University with minors in biology and French. She has over 25 years of experience in Culture Resource Management and Historic Preservation. She has conducted and supervised archaeological investigations throughout the US, and in other countries such as Africa and South America. Currently, her area of research addresses understanding and interpreting site formation processes and the landscape Archaeology for sites from pre-contact through the Cold War-era in the Great Lakes Region of the United States. Dr. Kaufmann is employed by the Department of Defense at the USAG Fort McCoy in Wisconsin.
Carey Baxter holds a BA in anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology from the University of Missouri at Columbia and has completed graduate coursework in archaeology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has 18 years of experience in Culture Resource Management. She has conducted research at archaic through Cold War era sites in the Southeast, New England, and Midwestern United States, and on military installations. Her area of focus is CRM, geo-spatial and 3-D data collection and analysis. Ms. Baxter is employed at the US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, Land and Heritage Conservation Branch in Champaign Illinois.