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The VolunTourist™ is a premium Newsletter for the Travel Trade. For those interested in discovering what is happening in the world of VolunTourism and seeking emerging practices, general information, and case studies, this is your Source.

Volume 9 Issue 3 Highlights


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Supply Chain

HistoriCorps: Preserving Historic Structures Through Voluntourism

Historic spaces can serve as centerpieces for destinations, drawing tourists from all corners of the world to discover anew these storybooks of humanity's past. What if we facilitated a deeper connection for travelers with these spaces by coordinating opportunities for them to assist in their preservation and longevity for future generations of visitors? Historicorps is one of a growing number of these mission-driven preservation efforts which benefit destinations and engage travelers in service with a distinct purpose. Is it Win-Win-Win? Symbiosis? Reciprocity? Sustainability? Or something else entirely?

Saving America's Last Great Places

“I have never worked so hard, eaten so well, or laughed as hard as I have while working on a HistoriCorps project. HistoriCorps is an opportunity not to be missed and an adventure in touching the past as well as changing the future.” – Douglas Fowler, Volunteer 2013

Introduction & Background:

Volunteering with HistoriCorps is a one-of-a-kind experience. You could find yourself stabilizing a nineteenth century mining complex at 12,300 feet surrounded by 14,000 foot peaks, preserving a historic lookout tower with a view that extends 100 miles in every direction, backpacking into a remote canyon to reroof a historic cabin tucked away in the wilderness, or even restoring the house of one of Colorado’s most famous pioneer women! Whatever your passion, HistoriCorps projects are the perfect way to satisfy that travel bug while preserving a bit of history and spending relaxing evenings around the campfire.

HistoriCorps saves and sustains America’s last great places through partnerships that foster public involvement, engage volunteers and provide training and education. Since 2009, HistoriCorps has worked in 13 states to preserve over 120 historic buildings and structures, none of which would have been possible without the generous contribution of over 38,000 volunteer hours!We are based in the Rocky Mountain region and from here are able to coordinate and instruct projects throughout the United States.


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Our volunteers are the lifeblood of what we do; our philosophy centers upon two core components-- volunteerism and public benefit.  Our purpose is to provide the highest quality experience possible for our volunteers, and in achieving that goal, we preserve buildings for future generations to enjoy, often as cabin rentals or other public uses such educational centers. Our ultimate measure of success is the gratification our volunteers express about being a part of preserving historic buildings for public use and benefit. Our volunteers:

  • Make a difference
  • Create memories
  • Visit and participate in the preservation of unique, beautiful, often remote places
  • Build awareness of projects and places
  • Learn new skills
  • Smile, laugh and enjoy the company of like-minded, passionate people
  • Often times join us again and / or encourage others to volunteer

HistoriCorps saves and sustains historic places in a way that engages local communities, provides educational and outdoor opportunities, and instills in our participants a lifelong commitment to stewardship of our natural and cultural resources.

Volunteering Opportunities

HistoriCorps’ volunteers have ventured into the Grand Tetons to rehabilitate a historic log cabin 5 miles from the nearest trailhead, repointed the masonry walls of an old military fort in California’s Mojave National Preserve, and even preserved a dude ranch frequently visited by Amelia Earhart!

Our preservation adventures are designed to teach valuable trade skills that volunteers can apply to their personal and professional lives. This has included wood roof repair and replacement, masonry repointing and repair, log restoration and reconstruction, door and window restoration and much more. We select and design projects with a scope of work that appeals to a variety of skill levels, will be fun for our volunteers, and can be completed safely and successfully in a pre-determined period of time, giving everyone an immense sense of satisfaction for a job well done.  Although we do the camp cooking, we always welcome passionate volunteer camp chefs who enjoy feeding hungry volunteers! 

Adventures may last a weekend, a week or two weeks, or even a month or more. Some are backcountry and require hiking or horsepacking to get crews and supplies to the site, while other projects have vehicular access. Whether you’re looking to gain new skills, contribute your skills to a good cause, connect with history, visit remote locations, enjoy the outdoors, or meet like-minded people – we have got something for YOU! All our projects are posted on our website with descriptions and travel information, giving our volunteers an opportunity to choose projects that fit their interests and timeframe. 

Tourism Experiences

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Our projects are located in some of America’s most spectacular places. Volunteers plan their volunteer vacations around sightseeing and outdoor activities offered in the project area, bringing their fishing poles, mountain bikes, hiking sticks, and most importantly, their sense of adventure.  Between sessions and in the evenings, volunteers pursue their outdoor passions or simply enjoy the natural beauty of the landscapes and the camaraderie that comes from meeting new friends.

Sample Itinerary:

Day 1 – We meet in Lake City, a small, historic town in the heart of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. We drive to our destination via the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, a jaw-dropping journey through some of America’s most breathtaking scenery. Arriving at the work site, we are immediately taken aback by the enormity of the Golconda Mining Complex – the buildings are as impressive as their surroundings are beautiful! We set up camp, get a campfire going, and sit down to get to know our new volunteer friends.

Day 2-6 –On the first morning of the project, the field staff provides an overview of the project and the scope of work, reviews safety protocols, and takes everyone on a tour of the work site where we will spend the next five days working in teams, stabilizing these amazing buildings and enjoying the beauty of the Hurricane Basin, scrumptious cast iron cooking and new friends. One volunteer even brings his ukulele to serenade us around the campfire! We learn to evaluate and repair foundations and sills; reconstruct two historic frame additions; shape and install replacement logs; reconstruct and repair roofs; and apply chinking and daubing to log walls. At night, we marvel at the stars – the sky is so clear that we can see the innumerable stars, planets, constellations, and our own Milky Way galaxy.  

Day 7-8 – We explore all that the San Juan Mountains have to offer – the hiking and mountain biking trails, the unique geology of the Slumgullion Earthflow which created the beautiful Lake San Cristobal, the wildflowers and the variety of wildlife including migratory birds, beavers, elk, and even moose! We meet local folks who tell us captivating stories about the area’s rich mining history; we are eager to learn more, so, after stopping to visit the historic ghost town of Capitol City on the way, we spend time at the mining museum in Lake City.  And before heading home, we might include a detour to the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville.

Day 9 – In Lake City, we say goodbye to our new friends.  We stay in touch through Facebook and the HistoriCorps’ website, enjoying the photographs and videos of our project and the many others underway in other spectacular places; and we wistfully dream about meeting again on another HistoriCorps project next year!

Contact Information:

1420 Ogden St., Ste. 103
Denver, CO 80218

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