In January, 2005, the San Juan County Historical Society (SJCHS) was awarded a grant from the State Historical Fund for $90,510, which they matched with an additional $60,340 in cash. The grant paid to both complete a Historic Structure Assessment of the Shenandoah-Dives Mill (also known as the Mayflower Mill), and a HAER (Historic American Engineering Record) documentation of the National Historic Landmark.
Being one of only seventeen such Landmarks in the state, and only one of five of its type still extant, very special care was given to its assessment in preparation for later restoration. Nearly completely intact with virtually all of its working components, including the mill, crushing plant, office/assay building, tailings ponds, tram terminal, and aerial tramway, the Mill is a marvel of engineering technology. In fact, the revolutionary flotation technology it used is credited with having saved the mining industry from collapse during the desperate Great Depression years, according to preservationists with the SJCHS.
While it might seem excessive to spend nearly $151,000 on a project that won’t result in physical restoration of the site, it is important to understand the scope of a HAER documentation. HAER documentations represent the highest possible level of documentation – necessary when you consider that the Mill is possibly the best preserved of only a handful of such treasures remaining of our nation’s industrial past.
While the standard HSA (which the State Historical Fund generally funds at less than $10,000 for a single, relatively simple building) might involve the expertise of an architect and a visit with a special consultant if necessary, this HAER documentation project involves six full-time architectural delineators, one historian, and a professional photographer for an entire summer of work. Expenses include costs for not only the professional salaries, but temporary office space rental, equipment rental, software, and travel expenses to the rather remote site.
Rather than a single HSA report, the HAER documentation project will produce up to twenty-four sheets of detailed architectural and engineering drawings, will be rendered in Computer Aided Design, will include a 20-30 page historical report, and will result in between 40-60 large-format photographs, according to the project’s Scope of Work.