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Militia, Indians set up camp at fort

June 24, 2006|by DON AINES

FORT LOUDON, Pa. - The militia beat the Indians to Fort Loudoun Friday night and set up camp, while about 200 yards away, people set up lawn chairs to hear a gospel concert as the second weekend of the French and Indian War fort's 250th anniversary got under way.

About 100 people were scattered about the 207-acre historic site 13 miles west of Chambersburg, Pa., wandering through the stockade fort, chowing down at picnic tables or listening to music. Anna Rotz, president of the Fort Loudon Historical Society since 1980, had her fingers crossed that predicted thunderstorms would hold off until the close of Friday's events.

In the Patton House Museum, Larry Stine described for visitors his collection of artifacts, including Indian spear points, arrowheads, fleshing knives and pottery shards, and colonial-era musket balls and flints, buttons and pipes.

"I don't know if I'd want to meet the man that used that," Stine said of a hefty stone ax head. Stine said it dated from the Middle Woodland Era, formed by the hands of a Native American anywhere from 400 to 1,500 years ago.

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Many of the artifacts once belonged to a great-uncle, whose horse-drawn plow unearthed them. Others Stine collected from the site of Fort Stouffer near Waynecastle, Pa., and elsewhere.

Indian camps usually were near either a spring or creek, Stine said.

"You can look at the ground and pretty well guess where the camps were," he said.

Events begin today at 10 a.m. and include lectures and demonstrations on 18th-century musical instruments, feeding a frontier army, the importance of flax and James Smith. The celebration continues Sunday at noon with more fort tours, lectures, music and fireworks at 9:30 p.m.

Since the re-created fort was built in the early 1990s, work has continued at the site, with 320 stockade logs replaced last year, Rotz said. The Fort Loudon Ruritan and Trinity United Church of Christ also built a wooden wigwam last year, said Bernice Crouse of St. Thomas, Pa.

Rotz said a summer kitchen will be added to the Patton House, but it needs state approval to proceed. There also was a hitch in replacing the logs when thieves loaded about 100 of them on trucks in the middle of the night.

Security at the site is better now, but Rotz also recalled the theft several years ago of a wooden statue - a mountain man that served as sort of a mascot for the site.

Rotz said police "thought they found him one time, but it turned out to be a painted Indian."

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