This interview was recorded at the Are We There Yet: Preservation of Roadside Architecture and Attractions Symposium, April 10-12, 2018, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Melanie Damour: I’m Melanie Damour and I’m a marine archeologist and the environmental studies coordinator with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. We are a regulatory agency within the Department of the Interior.
So I am a marine archeologist and my primary area of expertise is historic shipwrecks. And I’ve worked on sites dating all the way back to the 16th century, all the way up through the World War II era.
When I heard about the theme of this symposium in terms of preserving US military heritage that was right up my alley both professionally and personally. I’ve worked on a number of World War II shipwrecks throughout my career, especially recently with the Deep Water Horizon incident and trying to understand how that has affected steel corrosion in the marine environment, but also on a personal level. My father was an army veteran and he was a military vehicle collector, so he would restore Vietnam era army jeeps, and he was part of a pretty huge club. So I’ve been surrounded by military vehicles my entire life. It was an integral part of my childhood. So when I heard about this theme, I just thought, oh, I got to be there, this would be fantastic. And if my dad was still alive, I’m sure he would’ve loved to have attended too.
Considering some of the topics that have been offered in the past and sort of continuing along the theme of what my presentation was about it, I think it’d be interesting to explore managing and preserving sites that have been impacted by disasters, whether they’re natural disasters or human caused disasters. That might be an interesting topic.
Something that I learned here, I really didn’t understand much about plastics and it’s not a topic that one really thinks about in terms of preservation because we usually deal with materials that are so much older. But I found that presentation absolutely enthralling, and I learned so much that I’d never even considered before. So definitely something that I will consider moving forward is you need to pay more attention to.
I had not attended any of the previous symposiums but moving forward I’m certainly interested to see what themes that the future symposium will center around.
Melanie Damour is a Marine Archaeologist and the Environmental Studies Coordinator for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) Gulf of Mexico Region office in New Orleans, Louisiana. Melanie earned BS (1998) and MA (2002) degrees from Florida State University, both focusing in marine archaeology. Melanie’s primary interest and area of expertise is historic shipwrecks. She has worked on shipwrecks ranging in depth from Florida’s shallow rivers and bays to several thousand feet in the Gulf of Mexico.