A Frontier finale
Ranger Fenton had no trouble getting attention from kids Sunday afternoon at Frontier Days.
As a member of the Ghost Garrison, he was demonstrating how to fire a mid-1800s style muzzle loader.
“Kids like anything that makes noise,” Fenton said.
Fenton and the other Ghost Garrison reenactors portrayed army life for a soldier during the era of the Fort Dodge fort.
Daniel Klingele, age 6, was surprised at how Fenton said the soldiers always opened the powder packet with their teeth when loading poweder and a bullet.
“It won’t hurt you,” Fenton said. “It just tastes bad.”
“Even if you get powder on yourself?” Klingele asked.
Klingele and his sister Emily, 5, were having a great time at the Fort, said their father Eric Klingele.
“We’ve been to the cub scout booth, the woodworker’s shop,” he said. “It’s really neat.”
“It really takes you back in time,” said his wife Sarah Klingele. “Life was much simpler back then.”
“And of course, the kids always like the bouncy things,” she added.
The bouncy attractions were being fully used Sunday, as kids enjoyed the warmer weather.
“We were here yesterday,” said Rosanne Wilson, of Fort Dodge, “but it’s so much nicer today.”
She’d brought her grandkids out to see the whole Fort, but especially the fun parts.
“We didn’t get to go in the inflatables yesterday, so we had to come back,” she said.
Admission was up all around, said Jennifer Schild, a volunteer working the front gate.
“We’ve been very, very busy,” she said around 1:40 p.m. “We’ve had 409 since noon.”
Jamie Schoonover, 10, from Rockwell City, got a special souvenir from the cub scout booth.
“I just made a bracelet,” he said. “They have making your own name in leather. You just pound in the backwards letters with a hammer.”
Back down in the Frontier Village, 11-year-old Brandon Mills, of Otho, was locking himself behind bars in the jailhouse.
What had he done to be thrown in jail?
“Drinking too much root beer,” he said.
Mills said his favorite part of Frontier Days is the historical side of things.
“Watching all the different people come around, and seeing all the unique things here,” he said.
Dan Kramer was at work in Ole Fjetland’s Cabinet Shop, showing some of the many types of planes used in early woodworking.
There was a big difference between pre-Civil War and post-Civil War planes – the earlier one was mostly wood, while the later one was all metal.
“This one was much harder to adjust,” he said of the pre-Civil War tool. “You have to pound this wedge out and take it all apart, versus just turning a few screws.”
His teacher has hundreds of planes for different types of wood, he said, some of them very expensive originals.
“This is a 160-year-old mallet,” Kramer said. “And he uses it every day.”
John Bonner played a 19th century surgeon with the ghost garrison. Some of the procedures used then sound a bit disturbing today.
“This was used to bleed people,” Bonner said. “The blades all come out here.”
People thought some diseases were caused by bad humors, or fluids, in the body, so making people bleed was one way to get all the bad out, he said.
On the other hand, the dentistry tools Bonner had were virtually identical to some found in modern dentist offices.
“They got it right in the first place,” he said.
Practices have changed since then though.
“Sanitation was basically this,” he said, wiping a knife on his pants.
There was a doctor at the fort in those days, he said, but the doctor wasn’t the highest paid professional there.
“That was the blacksmith,” said Bonner.