By Neale Nickels, Director of Preservation
A little while ago I wrote about the work we’re doing in the Jewish Flats this year. We’re progressing nicely, and have recently begun the process of repairing a brick walkway that was damaged and patched with concrete many years ago during an irrigation pipe installation (See the picture below and stand by for future updates).
One of the more challenging projects we’ve had in this section involved three giant ledger stones and two huge headstones that had settled and shifted substantially. The monstrous marble monoliths were set on concrete strip footers on either end, with earth between them. Due to settling or possibly the partial collapse of a vault, there was a great deal of settling, creating a large depression below the markers that threw them all off-level. Our job was to remove the ledgers and headstones, correct the settling problem, and re-install them. The problem was how to pick up and move these slabs, which at about 9 inches thick by 3 feet by 6 feet weighed in the neighborhood of 2,200 pounds!
The solution was to lift them slightly using a chain hoist and a strap, slide a set of tracks and galvanized pipe underneath them, and use a winch and manpower to roll them off to the side. It worked beautifully, and with relative ease we were able to move about 7,000 pounds of marble safely out of the way. The pictures below capture the process:
In the next picture, you can see the extent to which the ground settled below the normal grade line.
Next, we filled the cavity with crusher run stone and compacted it in layers using tampers. Then we created a form, laid in reinforcing material, and poured a concrete slab to support all three ledgers.
Finally, we were able to move the ledgers back in place – a process that was basically the reverse of their removal. With the headstones in place, it is back to a safe, stable position that should hold up for many years to come. Once we complete the adjacent pathway, we will re-set the coping that surrounds these grave markers, clean everything, and put a bow on it.