Projects Mike has worked on

Partial listing of volunteer projects I have worked and supported.

Sand Wash Basin – North West Colorado near Craig CO

Little Snake Field Office  – 6/22/2009 to 6/26/2009

Walking survey looking for artifacts, signs of structures, etc.

Found my first prehistoric knife plus 12 other previously unknown structures. Most interesting to me was the hunting blind built of rocks on a game trail. We took numerous side trips to look at fossils, sharks teeth, dinosaurs, etc. numerous locations where we found chirt. One spot it was obvious a person had sat for hours making arrowheads as you could see the outline of where their legs were.

Old Clay Mine Restoration – Creede Colorado

Rio Grande NF – 6/06/2011 to 6/10/2011

Preservation of historic mine and stabilization of this historic mine.  In a mere three weeks, this run down historic structure will be restored to its original appearance of 1928.  Repair the main support posts and braces, tighten structural framing connections, replace missing wall planks, and a whole lot more

Bartender from California always goes to Sturgis and woks a couple weeks at the full throttle saloon. Makes 2k a day in tips. She shared her assets with her boyfriend and I. We also had a volunteer supervisor until I told him that based on his instruction he might have made a good supervisor. This project was one of my first and I had fun. Even tho someone came on site and used their truck to pull down the structure ruining several days of our work.

Custer trail – Dakota Prairie National Grasslands ND

Badlands near Medora ND – 9/12/2011 to 9/21/2011

Metal detect what is believed to be Custer route into the badlands and his first camp site

Met interesting metal detectorists. We found lots of artifacts but were never able to determine exact position of Custer’s first camp site.

Como roundhouse Cabins – Como Colorado

8/09/2012  to 8/12/2012

Stabilizing the walls, re-roofing, and securing the windows and doors of the two cabins. Re-establish a foundation and positive drainage, repair sills, and reinforce the walls, Repair structural damage; reroof with the original board on board or install temporary roofing -Board up doors and windows to prevent further damage to the inside. Got bit by a dog.  First introduction to Amy Unger. Heard a story of a stealing episode from the donation jar in the store.

Getting Fossils Outta the Field Jackets,” Nebraska NF – SD

 South Dakota school of mines. Rapid City South Dakota

4/08/2013 to 4/12/2013

Removing fossils from field jackets.. All lab work.

Stuck my foot in my mouth… Read the store on my web site. (don’t think I will be invited back) Learned plenty as I had never attempted this before. I enjoyed the experience but regret my outburst.

Baehrden Lodge – Jefferson County CO

5/02/2013 to 5/05/2013

Restore gables, support beams, skin logs stain.

Bobbie our sharpening and tool guy was a blessing as every tool we used was in excellent shape.  We had a great cook. Learned many new skills. Project not for the weak of heart or those afraid of heights. Joan and Kate joined me for this one.

Clesson cabin Alma – Alma CO

6/16/2013 to 6/22/2013

The building, although in poor condition, retains a high degree of historic integrity. HistoriCorps will preserve the exterior of the building getting it one step closer to being used as a Visitor’s Center for the town. Volunteers will learn to: Chink, daub, and side the log and frame portions of the cabin; Restore windows, doors, and frames.

Built in 1871, the Clesson Cabin was one of the first permanent residences in Alma, reflecting the spirit of the town’s first settlers.

Neosho Mine “No Sleepwalking”  – Neosho Mine Stabilization Project

Ouray Colorado – 7/06/2013 to 7/11/2013

Completion of stabilization of the foundations of the Blacksmith Shop, Powder House, and Out House. We intend to have hired help carry lumber in for us the day before, but you will aid in carrying in tools and supplies and carrying them out again at the end.  I was the bench builder. Fun group and we toured fort peck and other locations near Ouray.

Pioneer Cabin – Jefferson County CO near Bailey CO

8/08/2014 to 8/10/2014

The cabin requires replacement of sill logs, reestablishment of competent foundation, removal and replacement of daubing, and establishment of positive drainage away from the building. Volunteers will address all these issues, learning how to:Establish and pour cement foundation piers; Replace sill logs; Re-daub the exterior; Remove non-historic insulation from interior; Improve drainage away from building. Kate, Joan, Michael all went with me for some of the time.

Alama’s Ladies aid – Alma Colorado

9/12/2014 to 9/14/2014

Strengthening rafters, as necessary, Stabilized the foundation by: Installing two temporary support beams, Jacking the newly installed temporary beams lifting the floor system; Shimming any gaps between cribbing and beam and between beam and floor joists.Jon helped me on this project.

Originally built by the Fanny Barrett Mining Association as an office building and scale house (used to weigh the burros and wagons which transported ore), the building, now known as the Alma Ladies Aid Hall, operated briefly until 1880 as the manufacturing facility for the Fanny Barrett Smelting Works. It was later used as an office for the Moose Mining Co. and the Dolly Varden Mine. In the 1910s or 1920s, the Alma Ladies Aid Society took over ownership of the building, hosting dances, box suppers, Christmas plays, Halloween parties, birthdays, and funeral receptions. Now a Park County Local Historic landmark, the Ladies Aid Hall stands as a reminder of local mining heritage and the community outreach and uplift efforts of the Alma Ladies Aid Society.

Colonel Frank Mayer House – South Park City  in Fairplay Colorado

9/19/2014 to 9/28/2014

 The house required re-roofing, repair of wooden flooring, and restoration of the building’s false front.  Volunteers learned how to: Re-roof using matching cedar shingles; Install flashing along false front edge and around chimneys; Repair, replace, and paint wood siding on the building’s false front to match the original; Remove and reinstall original wood flooring; Repair failing floor supports. SAD –  Last project with Ruthie…

Built in 1874, the Colonel Mayer House is one of seven original buildings in the South Park City living museum. Located at the base of the Mosquito Mountain Range in Fairplay, Colorado, South Park City is a remarkable restoration of a late 1800’s mining town. Established in 1956-1957, the museum contains 34 authentic buildings filled with over 60,000 artifacts, which enable visitors to experience frontier history in a tangible way. Originally thought to have been constructed as two adjoined businesses, as seen from the two false fronts and two separate entrance doors, the Colonel Mayer House later became a residence to its eccentric namesake-Colonel Frank Mayer. A true “man of the west”, Col. Mayer not only served with the Union Army during the Civil War, but also fought in the Spanish American War, and wrote three books including The Buffalo Harvest. Col. Mayer lived at the house from the 1920s or 1930s, and died in Fairplay in 1954 at the age of 104.

Camp Reno – Tonto NF near Pumpkin Center AZ

10/19/2014 to 1025/2014

Metal detect the site and surrounding area for artifacts. Logged over 5,000.  Most interesting artifact, a stash of metal arrowheads.

McMillenville Part XII – The last hurrah

Tonto NF AZ 2/24/2014 to 3/01/2015

Survey site for evidence of battle between Native Americans and settlers in the mining camp. Fun metal detecting project. Very knowledgeable group.

Zuni Mountains – Historic Logging in the Zuni Mountains, Part II


5/04/2015 to 5/08/2015

Focus on recording railroad lines and their associated sites and features, which will involve filling out site forms, photographing the site, making sketch maps and making an inventory of associated artifacts.  I found an unknown logging camp but we got rained out and never able to get down the canyon to see it. Hopefully next year.

Greer Mill  – Near Alton MO – Mark Twain NF

6/09/2015 to 6/14/2015

Repair the damaged and deteriorated mill.  Focus on wall stabilization, framing, and siding replacement. Volunteers will learn to: Replace interior posts and timbers Remove and stabilize wall framing and sill plates Repair and replace floor joists and floorboards Continue cleaning the interior of the mill. Excavate, by hand, an improved drainage around the east side of structure. Katie spent two days with me and showed off her pajamas. Patrick, John and Dennis were leaders and a fun group.

Park County court house – In Fairplay Colorado

6/22/2015 to 6/26/2015

 Built in 1874, the Park County Courthouse is the oldest working courthouse in Colorado and still functions in Fairplay, CO Demo and remove non-historic materials from the second floor interior of the courtroom and landing. These areas are being prepared for future restoration. Preserve historic materials including:  Walls: Remove non-historic wood paneling; Remove deteriorated wallpaper; If time allows, repair plaster; Ceiling:  Remove non-historic drop ceiling; Remove insulation above drop ceiling; Remove and repair damaged and loose plaster; Repair lathe; Floors:  Remove existing flooring to reveal historic wood tongue and groove flooring; Baseboards: Remove baseboard heaters to prepare for system upgrade; Repair wood baseboards as needed.

Met a descendent of the only legally hanged man in Fairplay. They were drinking and playing the knock the hat off game. Apparently he was not fond of the game and when someone refused to pick his hat up for him he shot him. The paper stated, “RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES”. So off to the jail in the courthouse basement he went. In comes the vigilantes and they threw a rope around his neck and tossed him out of the upper story windows in the courthouse. Justice served.

Teton Reservoir Site Mitigation II August 2016

Teton Reservoir Stone Circles Recording & Survey Project,
During this project, we will focus on the area’s stone circles and other, adjacent archaeological phenomena. The site area is in the historic Kindt Basin, on a small ridge overlooking Teton Reservoir and Little Sage Creek. To the north is Sheep Mountain, a classic Western butte. The Overland Trail, an emigrant trail and stagecoach route from the 1860s is a mile-and-a-half to the south, and the Continental Divide Hiking Trail is a mile to the west. The road west across Bridger Pass is about a mile to the north. The Cherokee Trail, created in 1849 by Cherokee gold rushers from Oklahoma also ran through the Kindt Basin, though its exact route is unknown (and awaiting a future PIT project to locate it!).

Our main area of survey will be the site originally recorded in 1974. It will need a complete re-study, in fact, because the original had only a general, undetailed and small-scale sketch map included. Additionally, only 22 stone circles were counted, whereas today, there are known to be closer to 30, perhaps more. To add “insult to injury,” the site was also misplotted on the topographical map, and the location description misinterpreted on the site form. Thus, the site has been virtually lost for 40 years! With your help, we will correct these errors, properly record it, and bring the site back into our archaeological database! We’ll get an accurate count of the circles, produce feature drawings, and we’ll create a total station map. One day a week we’ll also survey along Little Sage Creek, located just below the main site.
Skinner Cabin Restoration – Fruita Colorado

9/11/2016 thru 9/17/2016


Skinner Cabin is located halfway between Dinosaur Ridge and the town of Fruita, just outside Colorado National Monument.  Dinosaur fossils have been found right past the cabin!  Also, known as the Skinner Stone House, the cabin was built by master stonemason John Skinner in the early 1900s.  A stone mason named John or Billy Skinner also worked on the catholic church in Fruita, Colorado around 1920, and is likely the same mason.  The house was made of shaped sandstone blocks with an earth-covered gable roof and coursed masonry chimney.  The cabin is one of the earliest stone houses remaining in the Fruita region.

The history of the house has been passed on through the years by oral history and the conservation area is still working on putting that history on paper.  Over the years, the building was home to several hard-working individuals, including gold prospector John Kodel and prospector and rock collector John Condon.  John Condon’s stay is perhaps the most documented in the house, during the 1940s and 50s.  Condon ran a lapidary company and took special interest in his natural surroundings, also helping ranching neighbors the Beards.  Having never owned a car, Condon was known for walking everywhere, including the 8-mile roundtrip walk from home to the town for food and supplies.

After the 1970s, the vacated building fell into disrepair and the roof collapsed. It has needed repair ever since.

Scope of Work:

HistoriCorps volunteers will work with field staff members to restore Skinner Cabin. Work will include:

  • Sessions 1 and 2: Stabilization and masonry rehabilitation: stabilize stonework, rebuild collapsed wall, remove sod roofing
  • Session 3: Rebuild roof system: reassemble wood elements per original design, replicate historic boxed roof vent

Thunderbird Barn in the stunning National Monument of Canyon de Chelly April 2017

PROJECT SITE DESCRIPTION:Inhabited by diverse peoples for over 5,000 years, Canyon de Chelly is today located in the heart of Navajo Nation. To this day, the canyon serves as home for Navajo families while remaining an invaluable national archaeological and cultural treasure. Visitors to this National Monument will be awed by the canyon’s dramatic red cliffs reaching toward storybook-blue Southwestern skies. In the 19th and early 20th century, the area was a hub for traders and merchants. One trader built the Thunderbird Log Barn, the site of our project, for storage space in the early 20th century, and a small community developed around it. In 1931, Canyon de Chelly became a National Monument, and the Navajo Nation and the National Park Service (NPS) administer the park jointly. The NPS wants to designate the community as a historic district, starting with the log barn restoration. This is HistoriCorps’ second project at this location.

WHAT:  In order to complete the structural rehabilitation of the Thunderbird Log Barn, volunteers will:

  • Replace and repair the barn’s log walls
  • Rebuild the barn’s
  • Rehang doors
  • Repair the barn’s roof

The Matchless Mine, Headframe preservation a HistoriCorps Project  – September 2017

The Matchless Mine located in Leadville, Colorado, is one of the most famous sites in the country linked to the history of the old West – but not because of its silver or gold. Horace Tabor is most famous for the remaining evidence of his once-wealthy lifestyle, such as the luxurious Tabor Opera House. In fact, Horace’s rags-to-riches and back to rags life remains one of the most enduring tales in Colorado’s history. The preservation work at the Matchless Mine’s headframe will allow it to continue to tell the history of this famous area for future generations.

Leadville and the Matchless Mine are located above 10,000 feet. High altitude work environments present unique challenges and safety concerns. Nights and even days may dip into freezing temperatures, and the thin air and bright sun can cause rapid sunburns.


Install concrete footers between the headframe’s legs

Re-plumb and align the mine’s railroad track

Restore the headframe’s timbers, replacing them as necessary

Mogollon Trails to the Past Passport in Time Project October 2017

We will be metal detecting wagon roads in Arizona!  We will be looking at the Crook Trail (1872), Chavez Wagon Road (1865), Mormon Emigrant Trail (1878) and several other wagon roads on the district as well as a few historic cabin sites. Attempting to better understand the who what where and why of these trails by uncovering previously unknown artifacts.