By Simon Ambit
On a recent trip back from Southern Utah, the kids were getting a bit restless in the car so we decided to pull off the freeway and visit the historic sites of Cove Fort. We figured it would be a good opportunity for the kids to stretch and run a bit and estimated that within about 30 minutes, they would be ready to get back on the road. Boy we were wrong! Those kids spent nearly three hours there and were entertained the entire time.
We have driven past that place on a number of occasions on family adventures, but have never taken the time to visit with the kids. The tour was guided by a very knowledgeable host who curtailed the tour to whatever time schedule we wanted. She was full of interestingly detailed stories about the fort and its happenings.
We heard stories about the construction of the structure itself, life at the time the fort was in operation and the many goings-on of the era. I was surprised at the interest level of the kids as we toured every room of the fort, the outbuildings and barn, and the garden areas. We saw many old relics including a hand operated loom, a telegraph machine and an 1860s Spencer rifle (the first military repeating rifle known), which actually held the rounds in the butt-stock rather than below the chamber like most modern lever actions.
One of my favorite stops was the fort’s barn. It is an impressive structure by today’s standards, but considering the original was built nearly 150 years ago without a single piece of metal (minus hinges); to say I was impressed is an understatement. The current barn is a replica of the original. The guide told us that it was actually built by the Amish and erected to fit with 100% mortise and tennon, as well as wooden dal and pin joints. The entire structure was then labeled, disassembled, shipped to Cove Fort and re-erected on site; quite an undertaking!
After the tour, the children played games in the yard. They played tag, had foot races, hoop rolling (with a large metal ring and a stick) and whirly-gig toys. Without charging us a single dollar and with the exception a brief 14-minute video about the history of the fort, our family was entertained for nearly three hours without a single electronic device!
I find that the older I get, the more I am interested by history. Maybe that’s because I am getting closer and closer to becoming part of it. But for me the tour of Cove Fort found me being impressed by these early settlers. They had a faith in their God, an unbreakable drive for industry and a care for their fellowman that held them firm in their goals and ambitions. Though built as a place of defense during a time of war, not a single skirmish was ever waged due to the unbiased sharing, refuge and kindness that was the culture of Cove Fort. I am grateful to live here in the Castle Country area where I see these same attributes in our culture. May we continue to exemplify these same qualities and pass them along to the rising generations. Life is good, pass it along!