From western forts to Victorian mansions and pivotal battlegrounds, the Texas Historical Commission's 20 state historic sites exemplify a breadth of Texas history. Come explore the real stories at the real places.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Young Texans Experience Living History at Fort Griffin

By Mitch Baird, Fort Griffin Site Manager

Fort Griffin State Historic Site held its annual living history event last month, with a school day on Friday, October 7. The weather was windy with steady 20-30 mile-an-hour winds, but no one seemed to mind. More than 750 students and 120 teachers and parents traveled from as far away as Abilene and Oleny to attend.

To help educate the students, volunteers from all over Texas came to teach traditional activities, including stage coach rides, corn shucking and grinding, and laundry demonstrations. Oddly enough, teaching the students how to wash and iron clothes the old-fashioned way, with a scrub board and sad iron, was very popular!

The students also loved seeing the big longhorn steers on display and listening to tall tales of cattle rustling, drives, and stampedes. But most of all they seemed to be attracted to Drummer Boy Ice Cream, which was selling homemade ice cream, root beer floats, and more. 

Another annual favorite is the large cannon and mortar from Fort Concho. This is always an exciting demonstration for the students because it is loud and produces lots of smoke. Bruce Frazer of Frazer Brothers Sutlery entertained the kids with tales of Indians and how to use an atlatl, while his wife, Gay, watched over the military clothing, buttons, and kepis for sale in their store. Overall, the school day was great success.

Saturday morning was met with clouds and the threat of severe weather. Who would have thought that during Texas’ most severe drought in 50 years, Saturday’s living history event would be washed out? Nonetheless, word was given early to “bug out if you don’t want to get wet!” Canvas dropped, cannons flew onto trailers, horses and stagecoaches flew off site, and within an hour and a half only a few brave souls remained.

About an hour later, the rain came and stayed for three days. In the end, we received 4.5 inches of much-needed rain. But Saturday was also the day that the Texas Forts Tour was due to ride through Fort Griffin, and by golly the cyclists still came—wet, cold, and hungry, but they still came. In the end, more than 62 riders stopped at the Fort Griffin rest stop to get a snack of fresh fruit and a drink before pedaling off in the pouring rain for the final 15 miles of the day’s ride. 

By 4 p.m., only staff remained at the site. We all looked at each other and then the rain and laughingly agreed, “If this is what it takes to get rain, we’ll do it again next weekend!” 

Fort Griffin State Historic Site is located 15 miles north of Albany on U.S. Hwy 283, in the Texas Forts Trail Region.

No comments:

Post a Comment