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Ghost Garrison coming to Fort Museum

Historic re-enactors will be at Fort Saturday and Aug. 21

August 14, 2011
By BRANDON L. SUMMERS, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

The Ghost Garrison is coming to Fort Dodge Saturday.

Their haunt will be the Fort Dodge Fort Museum. Literally. The group of historic re-enactors will be camping at the museum site for the two-day weekend.

"They will cook their own food and do the camp out life out there," said Michael Bottorff, historical foundation board member. "They'll live as they would've in that era. They'll dress the part, eat the part, look the part."

The garrison will re-enact conditions faced by the first settlers to the area, re-enactor Eldon Gast said.

"We're going to be portraying the soldiers that started Fort Dodge, or Fort Clark, as it was called when it was founded," he said. "We're just going to interpret what the soldiers were like that founded the original fort."

While in Fort Dodge, museum visitors will be able to interact with the garrison and ask them questions about their pre-Civil War world. Gast said the group hopes to take their visit beyond a simple camp out, though.

Fact Box

If you go:

The Ghost Garrison will be at the Fort Museum from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Aug. 21. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Rifle and musket practice 9 to 11 a.m. at the Fort Dodge Pistol and Rifle Club. Some members of the Ghost Garrison will remain at the Fort.

Both Saturday and Sunday, local tinsmith Jim Kimpell will demonstrate his craft, and Matt Alcazar will give a demonstration of blacksmith work. Tammy Calvert will give an old-fashioned quilting demonstration.

"We'll be hoping to sneak off to another part where there's a shooting range so we can do some shooting," he said. "We haven't done a whole lot of shooting for a while."

Gast has portrayed a first sergeant for more than a decade with the garrison. There's much he enjoys about his role, he said, including recreating the history of pre-state Iowa and learning its past. He also enjoys the camaraderie of the group.

"We're history nuts," he said. "We're all just kind of interested in history, and this is a way of reliving it."

The Ghost Garrison previously appeared at Chain Lakes Rendezvous in Palo in July. After Fort Dodge, they'll visit Fort Atkinson and Albert Lea, Minn.

The group used to appear at the Fort Museum yearly, for Frontier Days and other events, Bottorff said, but it hasn't appeared in more than five years.

"We've had a good working relationship with the former director of the museum, and when he retired we just kind of lost touch and drifted away," Gast said.

The group seems excited, though, to return to the Fort Museum after so long, Bottorff said. "They love the fort. They like our facilities, and they like what we are."

Bottorff said he's one of the many excited to see the Ghost Garrison return to Fort Dodge. "It's kind of neat to watch them, to see how they live."

Gast is especially excited. Though this will be the group's second re-enactment this summer, it will be his first this year.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the guys again and doing this," he said. "Why wouldn't I be?"

Contact Brandon L. Summers at (515) 573-2141 or bsummers@messen



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