August 13, 2010

Looking for History in Your Own Back Yard

Almost every area of the country has historical preservation sites. One of my favorites close to where I live is the Log Cabin Village in Fort Worth.

In the 1950s, the Village was a project of the Pioneer Texas Heritage Committee and members of the Tarrant County Historical Society. Members of these organizations realized that log structures, which were prevalent in the 1800s, were rapidly vanishing from the Texas landscape – and a portion of Texas history was vanishing with them. That is why they decided to create a Village dedicated to log cabin culture, history and preservation.

Six log houses, dating back to the mid 1800s, were selected from the North Texas region, moved to the present site, and restored in the 1950s to early 1960s. The Village was then donated to the City of Fort Worth, and it opened to the public in 1966. The Foster Cabin, an impressive 1850s plantation log house, was added in 1974 and the 1870s Marine School in 2003. The restoration of the Reynolds Smokehouse, relocated to the Village in 2004 from Azle, was completed in 2005.

Today, each of the historic structures, furnished with authentic artifacts, provides a vivid look at life in the nineteenth century North Texas frontier. Each log house displays different aspects of pioneer life. The exhibits include a water-powered gristmill, a one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, an herb garden, and several log home settings. Historical interpreters, who are City of Fort Worth staff and volunteers, depict the lifestyle of the people who lived and settled the area in the mid to late 1800s.

I love to spend time touring the cabins and studying the artifacts in the collections. The facility is available for tours, class outings, and educational participation. And they're a great place for writers of historical fiction to gain a perspective into how life really was in that time period.

So what can you find in your own back yard? Leave a comment telling us what is near you.

Lena Nelson Dooley, author of Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico.


Donna Alice said...

My town doesn't have a lot of historical sites but we do have a lot of history including being the home of Mother Thompson - one of Ohio's early temperance leaders. We also have an old Opera House that is open a few times a year and is fascinating.
Was just on vacation in Florida and went to several small museums that were free but filled with history. The same thought occurred to me that most places have a treasure trove of stories if we only look.

BK said...

I consider all of Arizona my home town and it is chock full of history. Just got back from a women's retreat in Prescott area and visited the Ft Whipple Museum while I was there as well as the historic Palace Saloon and Sharlot Hall Museum. I can never get enough of Arizona's history.

Vickie McDonough said...

We have a large collection of act deco buildings downtown, with all kinds of ornate trim work. The Thomas Gilcrease museum is a rare find and filled with western art by artists like Charles Russell and Frederick Remmington.

Your little village sounds cool, and I'd like to visit it. I did visit a similar place in CO that was a old west village with over thirty buildings filled with things from the late 1800s. Very cool!

Rena--Museum Educator said...

Thank you so much for your kind words! We are so pleased that you enjoy the Village. We hope to see you again soon!

Take care,
Rena Lawrence, Museum Educator
Log Cabin Village

Susan Page Davis said...

We found The Home Place at Land Between the Lakes, in Western Kentucky. We took our son and his wife and their four kids there, to this 1850s farmstead, for A Walk with the Animals, where a guide took us around to the various farm buildings and told us about their old-fashioned animal breeds. We saw a mule, Percheron horses, Border Leicester sheep, Tamworth pigs, and more. The kids loved it. I loved seeing how the old buildings were constructed. They do different programs there all the time.