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Watch work on USS Monitor engine this week

Consider a trip to Newport News to see the ongoing conservation of the USS Monitor at the fascinating Mariners' Museum. Through Jan. 29, conservators will be working on the Monitor's 30-ton side-lever engine and the public can watch.

For more than a century, the Monitor's grave was a mystery. It sank while under tow on Dec. 31, 1862 during a severe storm off Cape Hatteras. N.C. In 1974, its resting place was positively identified and between 200 and 2002, major pieces of the ironclad were raised and sent to the museum.



There was a Mariners' Museum long before it became the home of the Monitor in 1987. Although the Monitor is the big draw, there are also permanent exhibits on the nautical history of the Chesapeake Bay, a display of small crafts from 36 countries and the extensive figurehead collection that is part of an exhibit on maritime steam engines among several others.

If you can't make the trip to Newport News, the museum offers an excellent online tour via web cams of the engine now undergoing conservation measures as well as the treatment areas for the turret and the two 11-inch Dahlgren cannons.

The best time to see the conservators in the tank and at work on the engine is from approximately 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday. On Friday, the tank will be filled again with a saline solution. Conservator David Krop said the view of the engine without the workers is still worth checking out because so much more is visible than when the piece is submerged.

By Linda Wheeler  |  January 27, 2010; 3:20 PM ET
 
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