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Making connections during Fort Croghan Day

T.L. Henderson relaxes in the Vanderveer House at the Fort Croghan Grounds and Museum. You might find him hanging out during Fort Croghan Day, which is 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, October 12. Admission and parking are free. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Making connections. That’s the key to getting people, especially youngsters, interested in history. It’s something retired teacher and Burnet County Heritage Society member Cheryl Henderson is passionate about.

“Education is all about making connections,” she emphasized. “If we can get them to connect history to today and tomorrow, they’ll see how important it is.”

It’s part of the mission of the Heritage Society that members foster through the Fort Croghan Grounds and Museum and especially during Fort Croghan Day, which is Saturday, October 12.

The event is 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the museum, 703 Buchanan Drive (Texas 29 West) in Burnet. Admission and parking are free. The parking entrance is located just west of the museum — look for the signs.

During Fort Croghan Day, volunteers dressed in period costumes turn the grounds into a lookback at how people lived and worked as they settled Burnet County. One of the things that sets Fort Croghan Museum and Grounds apart from similar historical sites is everything on the grounds and in the museum is authentic. The Burnet County Heritage Society, which manages the fort, has strived to bring in structures, artifacts, and items that are from the time periods they represent. All the buildings on the fort grounds are from the early settler period of Burnet County, with the exception of the teepee. Over the years, the society has located the buildings and moved them to the fort grounds.

Fort Croghan Grounds and Museum volunteer Amy Peek gives a ‘lesson’ during a previous Fort Croghan Day. The event returns Saturday, October 12, at the museum, 703 Buchanan Drive (Texas 29 West) in Burnet. Admission and parking are free. File photo

On Fort Croghan Day, visitors can check out all the buildings as volunteers share what life was like during those times. They’ll also have many activities going on that pioneers did such as grinding corn, washing clothes, making food, and teaching class.

Yes, there’s even a one-room schoolhouse.

The day includes several hands-on activities as well and live music, including a local mountain dulcimer group.

Henderson explained that going to a place like Fort Croghan, whether during regular hours or special events such as Fort Croghan Day, is more meaningful for people if they can find a connection to today. When she leads school groups through the fort, Henderson often challenges the students to not just see an artifact for what it did 100 years ago, but to tie it into modern times and the future.

For instance, a telegraph machine seems like it has no role in today’s world, but Henderson will push the students to consider how communication has changed over the years and look at how they use smartphones. Then, she’ll challenge them to imagine what communication systems will look like in the future.

It goes back to getting people to make those connections, Henderson added.

Throughout the day, volunteers and re-enactors will demonstrate many of the ways Burnet County pioneers lived. After the October 12 event, the fort will close for the fall and winter season with the exception of Christmas at Old Fort Croghan in December.

Fort Croghan Day is one of three main events during Burnet’s Octoberfest, which includes the art festival and music festival.

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