From western forts to Victorian mansions and pivotal battlegrounds, the Texas Historical Commission's 20 state historic sites exemplify a breadth of Texas history. Come explore the real stories at the real places.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Gun for Preservation and Restoration

By Eric Abercrombie, Fort Griffin State Historic Site

Due to the efforts of the Texas Historical Commission (THC) and the Friends of Fort Griffin, the powder magazine at Fort Griffin State Historic Site has recently been restored to its original 1870s condition. Prior to the restoration work, extensive research was conducted by Martha Freeman, Texas historian and author, to ensure this building was restored as closely to historically accurate as possible. The funding for the research and restoration was provided by our very supportive friends group, the Friends of Fort Griffin.

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The original purpose of the powder magazine was to safely store powder and ammunition for the military. It was built a fair distance from other fort buildings, likely as a safeguard, in case the contents of the building were to discharge, causing a large explosion.
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The walls were made from local limestone and contained three small, z-shaped vent holes, designed for ventilation while preventing entry of a flame or spark that could ignite the powder and ammunition inside. The powder magazine had a wooden roof with a “weather ridge,” the common style at the time. Rather than a ridge cap, which is commonly used today, the weather ridge is simply an overlapping of an additional row of wood shingles at the top of the ridge. In case of an explosion, the wood roof, which is weaker than the thick rock walls, would allow an explosion’s energy release to go up rather than out. Overall, construction of the magazine was very simple, yet effective for its intended purpose.

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Fort Griffin and the THC plan to include interpretive displays inside the powder magazine in the near future. These displays will include period-correct cartridge, rifle and pistol boxes, and powder kegs. The powder magazine is one of the buildings that can be toured at the site, along with many of the other great buildings that make up Fort Griffin. Come tour Fort Griffin today!

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**The Fort Griffin State Historic Site is located 15 miles north of Albany on U.S. Hwy 283 in the Texas Forts Trail Region.

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