Article and photos by Alex Colvin 6/10/15 — The Fort Crook Historical Society brought history to life at their annual Pioneer Day celebration in Fall River Mills on June 6. The event took place on the grounds of the Fort Crook Museum. Hundreds of visitors viewed pioneer and civil war enactments; demonstrations of blacksmithing, log rolling, and horse harnessing; and presentations of quilting and spinning. In addition, an antique tractor show featured scores of tractors and farm machinery dating back to the early 1900’s.
People also had the opportunity to taste dishes prepared by contestants in the Dutch oven cook-off including a delicious buffalo stew prepared by Ben Scarberry of the Back Country Horsemen from Shasta Lake. Four teams competed in the cook-off, each preparing a roast or stew and a dessert. Jon and Dina Wideman came from Lewiston in Trinity County to participate in the event.
Rick Dougherty and his 12-year-old son Nathan, members of the Reenactors of the American Civil War, portrayed two soldiers from the 8th Alabama Volunteers, an all Irish regiment. The younger Dougherty delighted onlookers with detailed stories of civil war battles and soldiers who had suffered imprisonment during the war.
Mike and Jeanette Rodriguez represented the Pit River Pioneers Black Powder Shooting Group. Dressed in period costume, their lean-to shelter presented a variety of antique bowls, tools, and weapons, including a der
ringer similar to the one used by John Wilkes Booth to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln.
In front of his camp, Rodriguez proudly displayed a replica of a little known early California flag. This flag flew for a brief time in the 1830’s when Juan Bautista Alvarado helped to lead a revolt against Mexico. According to Rodriguez, the white flag with a single red star outlined in gold and the words Alta Libre Republica was the first flag proclaiming Alta California as an independent state.
In the blacksmithing demonstration, Ron Shannon and Logan Martin demonstrated their skill with forge and
anvil. Shannon teaches blacksmithing classes at the Fort Crook Museum from March to November.
Numerous booths lined the pathway into the Museum selling hand-crafted jewelry, photography, artwork, goat milk soap and lotion, hand-carved bird houses, and antique Native American baskets and art.
Adding to the festive atmosphere, music filled the air as musicians and singers from Fall River Mills, McArthur and the surrounding area shared a variety of old-time songs
Alex Colvin is co-owner of The Lace Gallery in Burney, California. He previously wrote for non-profit corporations in the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan Area. Since returning to Burney, where he has deep family roots, Alex and his wife Linda have dedicated themselves to exploring and photographing the natural beauty of Northern California.