Living History April 2002

By Crystal Conde Premium



Saddle up your horses and head west to the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. Travel back in time when you stroll through one of the largest carriage collections in the country. You’ll learn about the role cowboys, pioneers and Native Americans played in shaping the modern West. The rotating exhibits and extensive Western art collection will have you feeling like you’re home on the range. Visit the museum on April 2, and participate in the annual Victorian Tea from 6 to 8 p.m. Get dressed up in period-appropriate costume, and learn about the history of the Victorian tea. (You just might win a prize for best dressed.) Admission is $5. Make reservations in advance by calling (307) 778-1416. For general information about the museum, call (307) 778-7290 or visit <>.



Get a glimpse into 19th-century military life at the Fur Trade Rendezvous held at Fort Washita Military Park from April 3-7 — the largest rendezvous re-enactment in the Southwest. Re-enactors will compete in firing black-powder weapons and in axe and knife throwing. You can join in workshops on blacksmithing, bead working and basket weaving, or see demonstrations on flint knapping, baking, tanning and other practices. Established in 1841 along the Washita River, the fort is home to General Douglas Cooper’s grave and a reconstruction of the 1849 soldiers’ barracks. The rendezvous, sponsored by the Oklahoma Historical Society, began in 1986 with a group of 25 people. Today, the event attracts hundreds of re-enactors and thousands of spectators. Call (405) 924-6502.



Walk through thatched-roof cottages while village residents in period costumes conduct their chores and master their trades. Step back in time at Salem 1630: Pioneer Village — America’s oldest living history museum. You’ll see demonstrations of colonial games and crafts. Observe interpreters cooking over an open hearth and preparing codfish. As you tour the village, keep an eye out for animals that are specially bred to appear as their 17th-century counterparts. Immerse yourself in this Puritan village. The season begins in mid-April. To plan your visit to Salem 1630, see <> or call (978) 744-0991.



Discover the peaceful atmosphere that enveloped a farming community prior to the Civil War. Tour Missouri Town 1855, and observe interpreters dressed in 19th-century attire going about their chores. Opening day of the seven-month season is April 15. Stop by the mercantile to pick up some supplies and engage in local gossip. Watch the blacksmith hard at work or the housewife cooking at the hearth. Simple log cabins and refined Greek revival-style houses represent the diverse cultural and economic environment of the 19th century. You’ll find yourself surrounded by rare livestock breeds and authentic furnishings and farming equipment. Admission to Missouri Town 1855 is $3 for adults and $2 for children and senior citizens. The park is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call (816) 795-8200 Ext. 1260 or visit <>.



Tour a duplex that doubles as a mansion: Riordan Mansion State Historic Park is the site of the 13,000-square-foot home built by the Riordan Brothers in 1904. The house is actually two separate living quarters joined by a billiard room. Let the guide take you on a journey through the lives of an early 20th century family. Gaze at the 1904 Steinway piano that’s still a fixture in the home. If you visit on April 20, you can talk with the residents of nearby communities and learn how these towns contributed to the area’s cultural heritage through logging, mining, ranching and the operation of railroads. One-hour tours begin at 11 a.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $2.50 for children. Call (520) 779-4395 or visit <>.



Unearth the details of how the West was won at the Black American West Museum & Heritage Center. Filled with information and stories you won’t find in history books, the museum recounts the westward settlement of blacks. Take a look at the town of Dearfield — an all-black community established after the Civil War that brought the successful practice of dry farming to Colorado. Learn about influential leaders in the black community such as Justina L. Ford. Known as the “Lady Doctor,” Ford delivered more than 7,000 babies and committed herself to helping the underprivileged in Denver. Since its inception in 1971, the museum and heritage center has accumulated one of the largest collections of artifacts, records and memorabilia relating to black pioneers and cowboys. The winter season begins October 1 and ends April 30. The museum is open during the summer as well. You can visit the museum Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information, call (303) 292-2566 or visit <>.
From the April 2002 issue of Family Tree Magazine