My birthday yesterday started out early. I had to get up and get the animals fed and watered sooner than usual. I got to witness the sun rising 7:24, about when I was done.
Then we drove south and met my mother and step dad for a day’s activities. I chose these things from my bucket list, and they are all related to history. We started at the Fort Lewis Museum. I have driven by this over the years and have always wanted to stop by. Once when I was a kid they packed us all up, and we drove there only to find it was closed.
The museum started out as a hotel built by the Salvation Army for family visits to troops training for World War I.
This beautiful piano is from that time.
This Fort began as Camp American Lake and was started by a group of Tacoma businessmen, donating 140 square miles of land. This was approved by Congress in 1916 and construction began in July 1917. The name changed to Fort Lewis then.
We started walking around the exhibits. This is a cannon believed to have been present at the Pig War.
This is an example of a soldier from the 91st “Wild West” Division from the PNW who trained at Camp Lewis. They advanced through the Argonne Forest in September and early October 1918 and then went to Belgium for the Ypres-Lys offensive.
These are items donated by the family of Private Swanes who was in the Division.
This is the uniform from Wagoneer Oliver Morris who was part of the 1st Washington Volunteers in the Philippine–American War. I had listened to a podcast about these Volunteers in this war which was fascinating. The uselessness of these wool uniforms was mentioned, and it sounded like they mostly wore their underwear.
The 7th Infantry Division from Fort Lewis was involved with the battles on Attu Island against the Japanese in WWII.
The 2d Battalion, 75th Infantry (Ranger) from Fort Lewis were involved with D-Day. They scaled the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc and took the German gun battery. Of the 225 Rangers that day only 90 were fit for duty 2 days later.
Here are some Vietnam era weapons. My stepfather trained with the rifle on the left and carried the 45 shown during his duties there.
Here is what is shown as a Vietnam era uniform. Al’s pants were not as interesting.
The 4th Infantry was based at Fort Lewis beginning in 1956. They then trained in the Olympic rain forest in preparation for warfare in Vietnam, heading there in September 1966 and returned in 1970. They were involved in the Battle Of Dak To. My stepfather did not train at Fort Lewis, but my Uncle Jim did. Al was a photographer, and Jim worked in supply.
Fort Lewis became a U.S. Army Personnel Center during this War and ended up processing 2,500,000 soldiers by the time it closed in April 1972.
Here are some cool old photos from the fort. There is a July 1929 photo showing the horses,
and a September 1927 photo of a canon salute of Col. Lindbergh flying quite low. There was also movies from WWI training on the fort that were fascinating.
Outside of the museum there are quite a few pieces of military equipment. This is a Huey helicopter like Al used in the Vietnam War.
He would sit to the left and the gunner with 30 caliber machine gun would sit next to him. The door was usually open or nonexistent.
After the museum, we headed to the Old Spaghetti Factory in Tacoma for lunch. This is a large line up for Dick’s food truck across the street.
I have been curious about these restaurant but have never gone. People wax nostalgic about the one that was in Seattle on facebook. It was fun. Here is a trolley inside the restaurant.
I had Pot Pourri spaghetti with a variety of sauces. It was yummy and fun.
There were old photos of Tacoma, but there was also this large picture made entirely from stamps.
After lunch we went to Fort Nisqually. I have long wanted to go here. I do not remember going as a kid.
Right inside were some interesting artifacts. This is an amazing woven cedar hat,
and glass trade beads.
There are two original buildings from Fort Nisqually. The Factor’s House completed in 1855,
and The Granary built in 1850. It was used to store oats, wheat, potatoes and peas harvested from the fields around the fort.
Here is information about the Tolmie family and some of their artifacts.
Here is information about the Huggins family and some of their artifacts.
Then information about the McLeod family.
The remaining buildings were largely built in the 1930’s as part of the W.P.A. They used artistic representations and eye witness accounts of the original buildings to create these reproductions. I, of course, was interested in the chicken coop and the old watering device.
Here is a view of their garden and some of its equipment.
The Bake Oven is fascinating. They use it periodically. They build a fire in the entrance and then push the coals inside. When it is hot enough (after about 2 hours) the coals are removed, and food is place inside for baking. A water-soaked wooden door seals the heat in. This oven will retain its heat about 3 hours.
Here is the kitchen. There is some smoked meat hanging in bags in the far left corner.
The smoke house was interesting, of course. The laborers at Fort Nisqually built their smokehouse in January 1851. The photos are of the exterior and interior of this recreated one. The meats hanging in there were smoked in January.
The root cellar was equally fascinating. I have often wondered about building one. This one has a garden on the roof to help insulate it Unfortunately we were not able to look inside.
The Wash House was interesting. The wives of the laborers worked as laundresses, washing the linens and clothing with lye soap and boiling creek water. A wash house was built on the fort in October 1854. Can you imagine the work?
This is a photo I took of the fort from one of the Bastions.
I was interested in their rain water collecting system with wooden gutters and barrels on every building.
Here is the W.P.A. stone outside of the fort.
The orchard outside of the fort is composed of trees with grafts from the original orchard. That orchard was begun in 1834 with seeds brought from England. It included apples, pears and plums. The apple and pear varieties have not been identified, but the plums are believed to be Greengage ones.
At the height of operations the livestock included 3,000 sheep, 10,000 head of cattle and 300 horses. In 1854 the fort grew 30,000 lbs. of wheat, 25,600 lbs. of oats, 1,680 lbs. of rye, 3,000 lbs. of field peas, 160,000 lbs. of potatoes, 1,710 lbs. of onions, 1,000 lbs. of carrots, and 8,000 lbs. of hay.
After the fort we had a little extra time. So we explored more of Point Defiance Park. One thing we checked out was this “community kitchen” built in 1935 by W.P.A. workers. We also checked out the dog park and the Northwest native plant garden.
Then we headed to dinner at the Black Angus in Puyallup. I have fond memories of going the Black Angus restaurants when I was a kid. It was nice to experience it again. And we got a cowboy chocolate chip cookie with ice cream for free which we shared for my birthday.
I have received all kinds of papers cards as well as birthday wishes electronically, which was really nice. I received some really nice presents from my mom and step dad too. One of the cards from my dad had some money in it for a present. So today we went to the Skagit Humane Society. We saw our tile there.
And adopted a cat! She had been a pregnant stray, estimated at 2 years old. She was fostered while her kittens were raised and adopted out. And now she lives here. So far things are going well. But she needs a name.
I will need to get better photos of her. She has pretty green eyes.
So that was my 58th birthday, and it was great!
Sounds marvellous, a day full of things you like.
Thanks! A day of nerdy history things with people I love.
Belated happy birthday, girlie!!! What an awesome gift to yourself and check off of the bucket list!!!
Happy Birthday! Sounds like a wonderful time!
Thanks Dorothy, it was!
Wow! That was really a wonderful birthday!! I’m so glad you were able to do all that. I think I enjoyed the Fort Nisqually pictures the most. I find those things very fascinating.
I was able to dine at Seattle’s Old Spaghetti Factory, some time in the early 1979s. Very nice, and yummy food.
Your new kitty is beautiful! I want to see a picture of her green eyes, so I can compare them with our Chica’s. Please?
I’m so thankful that you had such a wonderful time.
Thanks Jeanne. I will post photos of her when I get a chance. The eyes aren’t as green as Chica’s though.
happy belated birthday! looks like a it was a really nice day. so much cool stuff at Fort Nisqually! and how exciting to bring home a new kitty 🙂
It was a nice birthday all around.