On January 23-25, 1997, members of the NWTA's 3rd New York and 55th Regiments of Foot took part in a special winter "open house" at Fort Michilimackinac, Michigan. We provided atmosphere and assisted the regular staff in guiding tours through the site. We played host to about 200 public over the weekend, including four school groups, a group who can trace their lineage back to the Mayflower, and the fort's "Friends" group.
It was mighty cold, and the temperatures were sub-zero with the powerful north wind. None the less, we managed to do some drill demonstrations, posted guards, and basically hung out. Some of us spent the night in the reconstructed French Guard House (original ca. 1751). By Saturday afternoon (after two full days of constantly stoking the fire) we actually had it up to 48* in there!
The Colonial Michilimackinac Public Relations department did a great job in getting the media interested. We had half a dozen of reporters stop by and were featured in several local papers as well as the Detroit news. The local weather guy stopped by and gave us a plug during the evening weather report as well.
All in all it was a great experience. The Michilimackinac staff was a pleasure to work with and the site is great.
If you've never been to Michilimackinac I can tell you it is certainly worth the trip. There are three 18th-century sites within a five-mile radius, plus several other historical attractions nearby (see cover story of October 1996 issue). For those of you online who would like to see more, check out the Detroit News' web site at: http://detnews.com/96/metro/9701/26/index.htm. Once you're there, scroll down about 2/3rds of the way until you see a very nice photo of Dan Joyce lighting his pipe.
The photos: Top left, Steve Gilbert and Ken Vallier in front of the French guard house. Top right, The "straits" side of the fort. The snow drift center is about 12 feet deep. Bottom left, Dan Joyce and Mark Tully at the reconstructed "land gate". This is where the famous la crosse ball incident occurred in June of 1763. Bottom right, The participants, left to right: Mark Tully, Karen Sorkness, Steve Gilbert, Marie Weber, Mark Weber, Dan Joyce, Ann Vallier, Ken Vallier.