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Re-Enactors Bring History
We happened upon a 18th Century event last weekend which was being held at the Old Stone House in Slippery Rock, PA, formerly a 19th Century stagecoach tavern and now a museum of Western PA history.
 
The stone house was built in 1822 as a stagecoach tavern on the newly-constructed Pittsburgh to Erie Pike. It provided rest and respite for travelers until about 1918, when it was abandoned. The Old Stone House was rescued by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1963, which restored the historic building. In 1999 Slippery Rock University took over the site, and it is managed by faculty and students from the history department, a great way to study hands-on history.
 
I have driven past this house my entire life as it sits quietly at the crossroads of Routes 8 and 173, just north of the Jennings Environmental Center.
 
Using the home and its spring house as their backdrop, 30 to 40 re-enactors took over the place for two days this past weekend and brought living history to those lucky enough to visit.
 
The re-enactors were part of the French and Indian War Weekend, revisiting the Conflict on the Venango Trail. We happened upon the festivities to witness a simulated trade of goods between the Native Americans, who brought pelts, and the English colonists, who traded weapons, tools, blankets and other necessities and gifts such as beads and jewelry.
 
To let you know how authentic these actors were, one young boy about ten-years-old was scared of those in costume, a lot of whom were carrying weapons. His grandmother went up to a man dressed as a Native American wearing lots of "English" accessories and asked if he would talk to the young boy about what he did in "real" life to ease the boy's mind.
 
The man asked the boy if he had ever heard of the television shows, NCIS and CSI. He then said that's what he did when he wasn't portraying a Native American: He was  a criminal investigator.
 
Listening to the re-enactors answering questions about the past also reminded me once again about how many diverse and fascinating activities and hobbies available to Baby Boomers who find they have a little more time on their hands. We have friends who go to re-enactments of the Civil War era in Gettysburg, PA, dressing up to play a part and enjoying themselves immensely.
 
It takes a lot of passion I would think to dress up and portray someone else, but what better way to learn about the past than from those who look like they just stepped out of it? Sounds like something worth checking out.
 
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