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March 26, 2009
Experience a Slice of Frontier Life During Fort Richardson Days
JACKSBORO, Texas — Come celebrate the 142nd anniversary of the existence of Texas’ northern-most U.S. Army fort during Fort Richardson Days on April 17 and 18, and see what frontier life was like in the 1870s.
More than 3,000 visitors typically show up during the weekend for the annual living history event, including 1,100 school children who are invited to the fort on Friday, April 17. The celebration takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at the Fort Richardson State Park & Historic Site one-half mile south of town on U.S. Highway 281. Entry fees are $3 per person for individuals between 13 and 64 years of age, and $2 for persons 65 and older.
On Saturday, Fort Richardson visitors can see Wild West gunfights; cavalry, infantry and artillery drills; flintnapping, spinning, blacksmithing and weaving demonstrations; and equipment displays. Lipan Apache tribal elders will be sharing their heritage from their encampment, which includes a period tipi. In addition, the event will include a 1 p.m. melodrama presented by Weatherford College students and a 7 p.m. dance featuring old-timey music and dance instruction. There will be food and souvenirs for sale, with proceeds supporting the Friends of Fort Richardson.
More than 100 re-enactors in period attire bring the frontier days to life in what was the most heavily garrisoned military installation in the U.S. during the Indian War of 1870-74. Fort Richardson, built in 1867, also served as the regimental headquarters for the Sixth U.S. Cavalry from 1871 to 1873.
Seven original structures, six built of rock, and two reproduction barracks will be open for tours during the special event. The most impressive of the original buildings is the two-story rock hospital built for $140,000 that dominates the fort’s parade grounds that once spanned the length of four football fields.
Visitors also can step inside a two-story, frame home that remains as the only commander’s quarters of its kind left standing in the U.S. It was but one of more than 50 buildings that existed during the fort’s heyday when more than 700 troops occupied the fort established to protect westbound settlers from hostile Indian tribes that dominated much of West Texas in the 1860s and 1870s.Though the weekend focus will be on the Fort Richardson Days event, visitors also can enjoy a variety of outdoor recreational options, including camping and traversing the nine-mile Lost Creek Reservoir Trailway. For more information, call the fort at (940) 567-3506.
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