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Great Neighbors: Park Volunteers

The inside of the 100 year old Moulton barn in Grand Teton National Park was abuzz with activity this past week. A group of volunteers is shoring up the historic structure so it doesn’t collapse.

They’re led by architectural conservator, Harrison Goodall, who is donating his time to the project too.

“The buildings themselves really tell a story of the families and of the people that occupied them, that built them, that lived in them, and it’s those stories that tell us where we came from and how things began,” Goodall said.

With the Grand Teton mountain range as a backdrop, the Moulton barn is considered one of the most photographed barns in America. Sherry Birch is one of those working on it.

“I have a love of history. I do carpentry for a living and it all seems to work well together,” Birch says.

Judith Taylor and her husband and daughter have come from Michigan each summer for 18 years to work on preservation projects in Grand Teton National Park.

“It is a sense of preserving an important part of history,” Taylor says.

“Probably the highlight of my summer every summer,” says daughter, Judith Taylor. “It’s just what I’ve always done. You always go somewhere nice and you work on something old and it all comes together and it’s a great week.”

One dedicated couple loves this work so much they even spent their honeymoon a couple years ago volunteering in the park and they’re back again.

“I can’t imagine doing anything different – spending time with wonderful people- they’re from all over the country – spending time with my husband and just giving back,” Tammy Nyen says.

National Park officials are delighted with the job the volunteers are doing to preserve this icon in an historically accurate way.

“You can’t just swing a hammer or pound in a nail and be faithful to the period of time in which this barn was built,” says public affairs officer, Jackie Skaggs.

“When you walk inside you can see that barn is a lot healthier and a lot happier and it’s going to be able to stand next winter for sure, and that’s the kind of condition they came in with,” says cultural resources specialist, Katherine Wonson.

The Moulton descendants and their families appreciate the work being done to preserve their ancestors barn.

“The morning that I first saw them working on the barn, and saw the volunteers line up on the roof, I was kind of surprised at my reaction because I got a little bit emotional – it was like this is what we’ve been working for,” Iola Blake said.

“We appreciate everybody that has put in the emotional and physical work it takes to do this,” Thomas Reed Moulton said.

For people like Harrison Goodall this is truly a passion.

“Why do we preserve?” asks Goodall, ” So that there will be something left for generations in the future. Why should I be so selfish as to let them go away?”

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