Camp catches early Pa. life

August 04, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - In a small corner of land in Waynesboro, tops of tepees poked above the tree line, indicating the rendezvous site where the Indians, hunters and trappers met over the weekend to trade their goods.

When they weren't trading their furs and tanned hides for weapons, black powder, whiskey and other supplies, the group of nearly 20 buckskin-clad mountain men, Indians, fur traders and early settlers tested their rifles, challenged each other to tomahawk throws or enjoyed a meal of buffalo stew around the fire.

The scene and activities on the grounds between what is now Waynesboro's high school and middle school was probably typical of what a trading site would have looked like in the area in the early 1800s, when the fur trade was flourishing.


"They probably had camps like this in Waynesboro before the settlers really came in," said Richard Baughman of Chambersburg, Pa., who looked the part of a trapper with his long white hair, beard, wide-brimmed leather hat, buckskin pants and a necklace made of beads and small animal bones.

According to historical accounts, hunters, trappers and Indians, fur traders, early settlers and suppliers from an established settlement would meet in the spring and fall at a rendezvous point to trade their goods, said Ron McClure, a Fayetteville, Pa., retiree who portrayed a hunter.

Beaver pelts, rabbit fur, animal bones and hides, among other products from America, were often shipped to European markets where hats, clothing and jewelry were made, added Sam Cox of Waynesboro, who owns a black felt top hat made from a beaver pelt.

The trading camp scene was re-enacted Friday through Sunday as part of Waynesboro's bicentennial celebration by the group of local people who participate in rendezvous demonstrations throughout the country.

"I do it as a hobby and for fun. It's what I call the great escape," McClure said.

Whole families, professionals and people from "all walks of life" participate in the re-enactments where no modern conveniences are available, McClure said.

"We try to stick to the way of living of the early 1800s," Cox added.

As long as he's not working, Pat Ryan, of Waynesboro, said he tries to participate in several local rendezvous re-enactments where he sets up his woodworking trade.

"It's like having a family reunion but not being related," Ryan said.

Wearing a long, plain dark green dress of an early settler, Stephanie Hughes, 12, of Chambersburg, said she participates with her family for the learning experience.

"You get to see a lot of people who are interested in learning about history. It's just a lot of fun," she said.

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