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Historic warship gun restored at University of Montana - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Historic warship gun restored at University of Montana

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Restoration specialists treat the gun with a high performance and durability coating system. It will be displayed at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C. (photo credit: UM) Restoration specialists treat the gun with a high performance and durability coating system. It will be displayed at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C. (photo credit: UM)
MISSOULA -

A Montana university has taken on a historic restoration project dating back to 1898.

The University of Montana announced Tuesday that the Center for Integrated Research on the Environment will restore a gun from the USS Maine.

The historic warship that sank in 1898 played a key role in events preceding the Spanish-American War, a conflict that established the United States as a global power.

The war provided the U.S. with territory and partnerships that were later essential to victory in World War II, according to Karen France, head of the Curator Branch at the Naval History and Heritage Command.

On Feb. 15, 1898, the ship sank in Havana Harbor after an explosion which destroyed the much of the ship and killed almost three-quarters of the crew.

The Maine remained sunken in the until part of it was recovered in 1912. The rest of the ship was taken to U.S. waters near Florida, where recovery efforts began that surfaced a 16-ton gun.

UM officials speculate that the gun being restored is one of the guns that was carried in the stern of the ship.

The university also said in a press release that the CIRE is involved in many projects which include artifacts from the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington. The gun being restored was held there for years.

“It was an interesting artifact,” said John Wills, CIRE’s assistant director of finance and contracting who served as lead representative and volunteer observer for the project. “I find history fascinating. War history is probably more fascinating to me than anything else, because of what it means with the way we move forward as a country.”

Part of the restoration project has revealed parts of the original surface of the gun where some features including stamps and inscriptions can be seen.

“One of the most rewarding components of a conservator’s work is that of knowing that your eyes are the first to see an original feature of an artifact long after it has been obscured by corrosion or degradation over time,” said Liisa Näsänen, associate director of WLCC at Clemson.

“…Being able to display an object in stable condition enhances the visitor experience and aids researchers,” France added.

After restoration is complete the gun will be put on display at National Museum of the U.S. Navy in Washington.

“There is no doubt this is an important artifact, and after its conservation, it will continue to ensure that those who see it will learn about and ‘remember the Maine,’” said France.

To view the conservation report of the gun click here.

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