Mariners’ Museum Bores Gun of USS Monitor, Moves Toward Displaying the Ironclad’s Weapons

Mariners’ Museum conservation staff watch as one of the USS Monitor’s Dahlgren guns is hoisted out of a tank Tuesday February 25, 2020. The conservators cleared out the gun’s barrel using a custom made boring machine and the event marked a key step toward displaying the artifact. (Jonathon Gruenke/Daily Press)

A pair of 8-ton Dahlgren guns—once in the rotating turret of the famed Civil War ironclad Monitor—has been in a chemical bath at Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, VA, for several years. On Feb. 25, conservationists finally got their first chance to put a one-of-a-kind drill to the innards of the two guns from Monitor, clearing out the silt, coal, and other debris that have accumulated over the past hundred and fifty years. Once the work is finished, conservationists will be able to see how much salt remains in the metal and start the process of chemically removing it. Clearing the physical contents of the guns is the last major mechanical step in their conservation. It will enable the museum staff to establish a timeline for putting the guns on display. “We take years to prepare for (a few hours) of operation,” said Will Hoffman, the museum’s director of conservation. “We only get one shot, so the alignment has to be just right.” For more, read the article in The Virginian-Pilot.

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