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April 02, 2013 8:31 am

Smokestack at Heart Mountain getting much needed repair

Written by Gib Mathers

Restoration begins

Workers are fixing the tallest chimney in these parts.

The chimney, formerly a hospital boiler smokestack at the old Japanese American internment camp above the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, is leaning to one side. It won’t get straightened, but the chimney will be repaired and repointed by remortaring the brickwork joints.



Repairs should be completed within 30 days, said Stevan Leger, Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation executive director.

The structure is 75 feet tall and leaning 18 inches out of plumb, said Solomon Martin, historic preservationist and mason of Stone Craftmanship of Missoula, Mont., the subcontractor making the repairs for Enola Contracting Service, Inc. of Chipley, Fla.

The work is a repair and stabilization project. The chimney will get a concrete liner, helical (spiral) pins and grout. The masonry will be cleaned too, Martin said.

It will get steel rods and concrete, “so it’s more seismically stable,” Leger said.

The stack isn’t really leaning. Moisture that has frozen and expanded over the years has caused it to bend. Grout and flashing will keep the moisture out, Leger said.

Japanese American Confinement Sites awarded a grant to the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office in cooperation with the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation in 2011, said a winter 2013 article in “Kokoro Kara, Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation From Our Heart” magazine. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the property and manages the National Historic Landmark with the foundation, supported the project.

The project team consists of the National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails and Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office.

A chimney dedication and discussion about camp life will take place July 20, Leger said.

Like a local landmark overshadowed only by iconic Heart Mountain, the big red stack meets the sky with burly pride. The scaffolding undertakes a vertiginous climb as it hugs the chimney like a steel exoskeleton. Wearing harnesses to arrest a possible fall, Craftmanship hands work with caution at the dizzying heights.

The big chimney actually was well constructed, but it has weathered 70 years of wind and neglect.

The repair “has been a long time coming,” Leger said.


  • Comment Link April 02, 2013 2:40 pm posted by loveourcountry

    Funny how we had no money with the sequestration to open Yellowstone but we can use tax dollars to repair a chimney ?

  • Comment Link April 02, 2013 7:06 pm posted by Kody Koyote

    Repair a chimney on an empty building? What's next?

  • Comment Link April 03, 2013 6:55 pm posted by Steve Moseley

    Way to see the little picture.

  • Comment Link April 12, 2013 12:56 pm posted by Wyogal30

    I"m sure the people who were forced to stay there during the war don't think it is just an "empty building" with an old chimney. It is a part of history that should not be forgotten

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