Celebrating Indiana: Fort Wayne’s Historic Old Fort

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WISH) – It was the most sophisticated all-wooden fort ever built in North America. Today, a replica of the 1815 compound stands tall for all to see in Fort Wayne.

At Fort Wayne’s Historic Old Fort, questions are both asked by and posed to reenactors.

“This is a British uniform; obviously it’s red. Does anybody know why it’s red?” asked a reenactor.

The most important thing is the questions get answered.

By the way, the British uniforms were red because red dye was one of the cheapest dyes back then and the Brits had a huge army.

The Old Fort is a hands-on, interactive way for kids and adults alike to learn about the post built by American troops under the command of Major John Whistler in 1815. Or, as 3rd grader Jackson Kelly puts it….

“Kids can come here every day and learn about what the old-timer people did.”

The Old Fort is a replica of Whistler’s camp but sits just a musket shot away from the original location.

“The community got behind it, they funded it, and they built it in 1974. It was officially opened July 4th 1976 for the bicentennial,” said Norman Gable, the Fort’s Head Blacksmith.

From reenactors to blacksmiths, the Old Fort brings history alive from the Vikings age through World War II.

“We can teach them and give them as much information as possible, but until they’re actually experiencing it and seeing it and being able to ask questions, then that’s when it really sinks in,” says teacher Raylin Nichols.

Kelly couldn’t agree more.

“I like it how you get to come here and experience it instead of reading it in a book,” he said.

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