Little Fort on the Prairie

Christina Haroldson uses her leather gloves to get after Kim Merchant who portrayed the post master during the Night at the Fort tour and re-enactment Saturday evening. Haroldson was defending her characters honor after she was called a “trollop” by the post master.

Ladies in long skirts with lacy blouses and their hair in fancy up dos, children running around the grounds in styles from the 1800s and soldiers in the blue Union uniforms were all gathered on the historical site, ready to give onlookers a chance to see what life was like more than 140 years ago.

Douglas residents, as well as visitors from as far away as Casper and Wheatland, were on hand to take a tour back in time to when Fort Fetterman was the hub of activity in the area.

“We weren’t able to do our annual cemetery re-enactment tour this year, Converse County Emerging Historian member Lisa Thalken said, referring to the fall tour of Douglas Park Cemetery. “We thought this was another great way to introduce people to what life was like back then.”

The local club had re-enactors from all over portray a member of the community. Soldiers, postmasters, hotel employees and wives of army officers were all on display, ready to act out a portion of their daily life last Saturday evening.

From welcoming new soldiers and residents to the fort, to having tea with the local Native American chief and protecting a woman’s honor were just some of the parts that were played out for those who attended the tour.

“Tickets were sold ahead of time, which also gave admittance to the museum,” Thalken said.

Thalken was just one of the tour guides who lead people on the near hour long trip through time.

“I’ve been doing re-enactments since I’ve been little,” Wheatland resident Charity Caves said. “My family participates in the Fort Laramie re-enactments every year. It’s a great way for history to come alive.”

Caves portrayed one of two women who worked at the Ft. Fetterman hotel, and was on hand to defend her friend who the local post master called a “trollop” because he saw her ankle.

“Tours like these are a lot of fun,” Casper resident and fellow re-enactor Kim Merchant said.

Merchant portrayed the post master and had just defended himself from one of the hotel girls.

Although the Wyoming wind was as strong as ever it didn’t deter the actors or the visitors to the fort from learning more about the history of the fort that closed long ago.

Tours began at 6:45 and lasted until 8:30 with 15 actors playing the part for 45 attendees, according to Thalken.

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