Western View: Living History at Fort Tejon

Taylor Hillman Features, Western View

We’ve been talking about state parks, especially the ones that preserve a piece of our history. These are places that we can use to teach our children about our heritage and show them what makes California such a special place. These places bring their history textbooks alive.

Western View

We talked about Tomo-Kahni, which showcases a native American village in the southern Sierras. Not far to the west is another park which tells the story of the time when the Americans came to California to create an entirely new society in the swamp of the central valley. This place is Fort Tejon, located in Grapevine canyon on I-5, south of Bakersfield.

The fort was established in 1854 to maintain law and order. The soldiers helped keep the peace between the Indians living in the area and the white settlers who were developing the farms in the valley. They also had to protect both groups from marauding bands of Indians who would come up from the desert regions to the east and south. The fort was active for 10 years.

There are restored adobes from the original fort and the park’s museum features exhibits on army life and local history. There are several static displays, but the best lessons about the past happen on the first Saturday of each month. That’s when reenactors bring the fort back to life, and they want to share their stories with park visitors.

It’s truly a step back in time. Here you can immerse yourself in the sounds, sights and colors of the past. Smell and hear the bubbling stew simmering over an open-hearth fire-place. Visit the Blacksmith at his forge, the carpenter in his shop, or the soldiers in the barracks. Hear the muskets and cannon fire. You can witness women mending clothes, soldiers polishing brass, cooks churning butter or children playing games of the era.

These Living History demonstrations take place on the first Saturday of each month year around. Visitors are welcome any time. Exhibits are open from 9 to 4. There’s camping on a first come – first served basis. For more information, visit the park on the internet at parks.ca.gov.

I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West.