There has been a lot of work going on at Kings Mountain. Half of the administrative staff are moving into a new building. It was formerly the Superintendent’s House, but because the superintendent now is over three parks, he lives in a house more in between all the parks. There is a new pole building in the maintenance yard. And, the Visitors Center got new electrical wiring and a new roof.
The roof that was on the Visitors Center was the original cedar shingle roof, put on in 1975. Over the years it developed a lot of character, as moss and ferns grew on the shingles. It blended right in with the wooded setting. Unfortunately, over the years, it also developed a lot of leaks. So, a crew came to replace the cedar shingles with a new roof made of bronze colored metal.
The roofing company is one that is vetted by the National Park Service and they travel from site to site doing roofs. They travel with a crew that stays in the area while they are doing the roof and then moves on to the next site. This crew had a manager, a safety officer, and a foreman who supervised the work. There were ten other men that did most of the work. About half of these were Apache from Arizona. The crew kept us entertained as they interacted with each other and the guests.
It only took a couple of weeks for the roof to be replaced. They started right after the anniversary weekend. They took several days to tear off the roof and replace the underlayment and sheathing. Then they cut the long pieces of metal and shaped them to fit on site. After they placed the pieces of metal on the roof, they had a robot that sealed the ridges between pieces. They put up gutters and a heating strip to keep the water from freezing.
As a final touch they installed rain chains instead of downspouts. Visitors have been very impressed with the beauty of the rain chains and wondered where they could get them. I put together an information sheet on them for people who ask if we sell them in the Visitors Center. They are beautiful and are supposed to sound like a brook when rain flows down them.
I was impressed by how quickly the crew worked and how well they cleaned up after themselves. Usually roofing projects have trash all over and nails where everyone can step on them. These roofers cleaned up at the end of every day and put up protective scaffolding over walkways to keep our guests safe. At the end of the project I found two small pieces of metal and three nails on the ground. Great job!
We did have one roofer fall off the roof. I was not present that day, but Wilma (the Eastern National lady) heard a shout, some loud steps on the roof, and then a thump as the person rolled off the roof onto the ground. She said he jumped back up and yelled that he was okay. I talked to him the next day and he had a bandage over the stitched-up gash in his hand. After that incident the roofers wore their harnesses all the time.
One reason the roofers finished so quickly (besides being awesome at their job) is that we haven’t had any rain in South Carolina since October 8. It is dry and dusty here – but it was good for putting on a new roof! The men also worked seven days a week from sunrise to sunset. They were all glad to finish and head back to their families before their next project started.