HistoriCorps volunteers help preserve structures at Crescent Moon Ranch in Sedona

HistoriCorps volunteers help preserve structures at Crescent Moon Ranch in Sedona

(Video by Drake Presto/Cronkite News)

SEDONA – John Lee started Crescent Moon Ranch as a cattle operation in 1880, but by the 1930s, the Baldwin family had replaced cows with fruit trees. Today, the ranch – nestled near the base of majestic Cathedral Rock – is owned by the U.S. Forest Service, which preserved the ranch “cabin” and rents it to tourists.

The cabin, a rambling three-bedroom house built in 1938, requires regular upkeep, as do other historical buildings on Crescent Moon Ranch, including Lee’s hay barn, a waterwheel, blacksmith shop and packing shed.

In 2021, officials with the Coconino National Forest partnered with the nonprofit HistoriCorps, which recruits and trains volunteers to help maintain historic structures on public lands across the U.S. The organization provides food, a campsite and construction education throughout the preservation process.

Last year, the volunteers repointed the masonry on the blacksmith shop and the waterhouse. This year, over the span of three weeks in October, HistoriCorps crews helped Crescent Moon Ranch get ready for the coming decades by replacing the packing shed roof, restoring the siding on the hay barn and treating the waterwheel for rust.

“They are very good at involving everybody – all the volunteers – no matter what their experience is,” HistoriCorps volunteer Randy Hurley said. “They are very good at training and showing and demonstrating how to use tools. … They also are good about asking, ‘Are you comfortable up on the roof? Are you comfortable using that tool?’”

HistoriCorps volunteer Yumi Shimizu, left, learns how to use a circular saw from project supervisor Pete Specht on Oct. 24, with Sedona’s Cathedral Rock as a picturesque backdrop. (Photo by Drake Presto/Cronkite News)

HistoriCorps volunteers finish the roof of the packing shed at Crescent Moon Ranch in Sedona. The ranch, founded in 1880, sits near the base of Cathedral Rock. (Photo by Drake Presto/Cronkite News)

HistoriCorps volunteer Yumi Shimizu, left, learns how to use a circular saw from fellow volunteer Randy Hurley. A part of HistoriCorps’ mission is to teach volunteers construction skills to complete the project. (Photo by Drake Presto/Cronkite News)

Left: Sarah Mees carries a scaffolding bar to work on the side of the packing shed at Crescent Moon Ranch. Center: Karan Parsley works on a new fence for the hay barn at Crescent Moon Ranch. Right: Brian Brogie removes rust from the waterwheel before applying a weathering treatment at Crescent Moon Ranch. (Photos by Drake Presto/Cronkite News)

HistoriCorps project supervisor Pete Specht cuts lumber for the hay barn fence at Crescent Moon Ranch. (Photo by Drake Presto/Cronkite News)

Volunteers sit at a campfire to enjoy their evening at Crescent Moon Ranch in Sedona. Part of the HistoriCorps experience is being able to camp at places where camping usually isn’t allowed. (Photo by Drake Presto/Cronkite News)

Drake Presto

News Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Drake Presto will graduate in spring 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Presto specializes in documentary journalism and has interned with The Arizona Republic, Arizona Highways Magazine and The State Press.

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