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Upgrades Underway At George Rogers Clark Memorial

Last updated on Tuesday, November 13, 2012

(VINCENNES) - Piles of dirt and temporary fences are scattered about the southern Indiana memorial to Revolutionary War figure George Rogers Clark as crews install a new geothermal heating and cooling system.

It's the latest step in an ongoing project to overhaul the infrastructure of the memorial that sits along the Wabash River in Vincennes and was first dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1936.

After work is completed on the geothermal well field -- 18 wells bored 300 feet deep -- crews will shift to inside the memorial, chief ranger Frank Doughman told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial .

"Once that happens, people won't see much of anything ... not like right now," Doughman said. "They'll be pulling out all the old steam boilers and old registers and radiators and putting in the new system."

Other projects in the past few years at the memorial have included Wabash River retention wall repair, which were finished this summer, and a 13-month closure during 2008 and 2009 to fix extensive water leaks.

The granite memorial includes an 80-foot-tall rotunda with murals and a statue of Clark, who led a small force to capture the British fort at Vincennes in February 1779.

Doughman said the memorial will be closed occasionally this winter as the geothermal system work is being done and expects the project will be finished in time for the 2013 Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous, held on Memorial Day weekend.

There is also work planned to replace the current lighting on the memorial's 16 Doric columns with LED lights that Doughman said should show more detail.

"They are to be closer to what the original lighting looked like in the 1930s," he said.

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