Keeping history alive at Ft. Macon as they battle the elements

CARTERET COUNTY, NC (WITN) Months after Hurricane Florence waged war on Fort Macon in Carteret County, repairs continue on the historical site.

Construction on the fort began in 1826 and in 1834 was filled with troops, after being named in honor of U.S.Senator Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina, who secured the funding for the fort.

Randy Newman, Fort Macon Park Superintendent says, "Fort Macon was built right after the war of 1812 and it was used in three wars. It was used in the Civil War, the Spanish American War, and the last time was World War II. And it was also used as a federal penitentiary during reconstruction, so it has a long history."

But keeping a historical site that's nearly 200 years old up and running and in tiptop shape is not always an easy task, especially when that site sits on the edge of a barrier island on the Atlantic coast.

Newman says, "It's a matter of boarding up and watching what the hurricane effects are."

But that's a challenge park rangers at the fort are up for, because they say preserving history is incredibly important.

Newman says, "You know history is growing everyday and year and our school children get to learn less and less about our early years and if we don't have a good foundation of the past, we don't understand really the present so I personally think history is valuable and we need to make sure it's preserved and that kids can learn from it."

Hurricane Florence brought in more than six inches of water into the brick fort.

Newman says, "We were there as soon as the water started rising and got everything out and off the floor because the artifacts are what we want to protect and we are able to get all of the artifacts out and basically clean them and save them all."

Thankfully none of the artifacts inside of the fort were damaged but floors and walls took a major hit.

Newman says, "We're hoping to have them all back open by summer time."

And with serving more than 1.2 million visitors each year you can see why they are in a rush to complete construction.

Newman says, "It's nice to hear people come in and they're amazed how well the fort is kept and all the history of the fort and a lot of people that even live locally don't understand the history til they come in and say wow I didn't know that so it's very important keeping history alive."

Fort Macon is not the only historical site that had to deal with damage from Hurricane Florence. Tryon Palace in New Bern had damage to several historical homes and artifacts after roof leaks severely damaged the walls and floors in two of the homes on the palace's site which took weeks to repair.