Historical Documentation of Death Valley for Virtual Reality—and More

3D Laser Scanning ArchitectureDeath Valley Conservancy (DVC) is currently in the process of preserving and restoring Ryan Camp (also known as Ryan), an incredible historic mining site in California. The camp was the base for the Pacific Coast Borax Company’s Death Valley mining operations from 1915 to 1927. According to archaeologist Dr. Jessica Smith, “Ryan is perhaps one of the best-preserved historic mining camps in the western United States.” To facilitate the preservation process, the DVC needed accurate documentation of existing conditions of Ryan’s historic structures and artifacts.

Epic Scan partnered with Architectural Resources Group (ARG) to collect precise as-built data of the current conditions of the Ryan Historic District. Epic Scan offered 3D laser scanning, aerial mapping and virtual site access (VSA) of the 400-acre project site, scanning a total of 14 buildings and capturing over 400,000 square feet of 3D point cloud data. The 3D information will help the Ryan team create a topographic map and eventually produce a virtual reality tour of the site.

Due to the complexity, age and location of the structures, it was crucial that the DVC implement proven scanning methods during the preparation stages.

Ryan Camp Death Valley
Ryan Camp aerial view (© Death Valley Conservancy)
Accurate 3D documentation will ensure that the Ryan team thoroughly records existing conditions of the site. Three-dimensional data also serves as a virtual archive of comprehensive site measurements and conditions for current and future use.

The goal for Ryan is to transform the location into a world-class research and scientific learning center, emphasizing archaeology and historic preservation. In addition, the Ryan team plans to “preserve what’s left, restore when possible and maintain a balance between use and preservation.”

Take a look at the 3D animation of the Ryan Mining Camp here (© Death Valley Conservancy). For questions about laser scanning, documentation or virtual reality, please contact us at 415.524.0516 or projects@epicscan.com.


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