Another Brick In The Wall
By: “Tortuga” Jack Hackett
As “Silent Night” still lingers in the ears and resolutions are still forthcoming, here at Ft. Jefferson bricks, bricks and more bricks await the capable hands of returning work crews. The air is permeated with a sense of elation shared by masons on the embrasure project that is without a doubt akin to the feeling shared by those who toiled here in the 1800’s knowing that soon the men would be returning to their hometowns or to Key West for several weeks of comfort. Present day masons share the closest experience to the original laborers who fashioned the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere.
Bricks are arriving on a barge-like craft which conjures up images of a construction project that was in progress one hundred fifty years ago. These bricks await special placement having been specially made in an attempt to replicate the original bricks in size, color and weight. This involves the use of custom forms and specialty clay mixes. The bricks cannot be shipped until they have met the National Park Service’s rigorous inspections and approval. Once the National Park Service has approved the finished product, the bricks are produced in larger quantities and shipped to Fort Jefferson where they will receive placement designation.
For now, however, there is more embrasure removal, clearing of wall fragments from the moat and the wall straightening continues. Embrasure pieces are cleared and hauled away. These photos should help illustrate the huge amount of work involved and the complexity of the effort. It is truly astonishing to view the elaborate process that precedes the laying of a brick.