PORT TOWNSEND — The history of Old Fort Townsend will come alive this weekend with a celebration of its 150th anniversary.
Established in 1856, Old Fort Townsend will be thrown back to its early years on Saturday and Sunday when about 10 Civil War re-enactment soldiers and people from the San Juan Islands will inhabit the fort.
The celebration will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Old Fort Townsend State Park, located approximately four miles south of Port Townsend off state Highway 20 and about one half mile east down Old Fort Townsend Road.
Dressed in traditional Civil War uniforms and clothing of the time, the re-enactors will illustrate what some consider the forgotten history of Old Fort Townsend.
“They will basically go through the day in the life of a soldier,” said Nancy Steinberg, president of Friends of Old Fort Townsend, one of the organizers of this weekend’s event.
“Because there are no buildings left at the fort site, what we’re trying to do is let people realize the importance the fort had on the city.”
Actors to fire canon
Old Fort Townsend State Park, unlike nearby Fort Worden and Fort Flagler State Parks, no longer has military buildings within its 367-acre forested park.
The barracks and mess hall went up in flames in 1895 after a kerosene lamp overturned.
The remaining buildings deteriorated, were deemed hazardous and were demolished in the 1930s.
To kick off the 150th anniversary celebration, uniformed actors will have a flag raising ceremony at 9 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
One of the main draws, said Steinberg, will happen at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
That’s when the re-enactors will fire the 12-pound Howitzer cannon, the same kind used in Civil War times.
“We actually bought $80 of black powder, and they’re going to be bringing the cannon here on the ferry,” Steinberg said.
At 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. Sunday, the re-enactors will fire rifles like those used in the 1800s and show how they work.
An underwear show, where period clothing will be displayed, will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday and at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
Men and women of the 1800s were known for wearing many layers of undergarments, said Steinberg.
“As they talk about each piece of clothing, it’s going to be another piece of history,” she said.
At 4 p.m. Saturday, re-enactors will participate in games, such as cannon ball throwing, which were games 1800s soldiers played to pass the time, Steinberg said.The flag lowering and evening gun salute will happen at 5 p.m. Saturday.