2017 LCC Frontier History Encampment


Civil War Era Soldiers at LCC Encampment


Annie Oakley or Little Sure Shot, as she was named by Chief Sitting Bull, was a new feature for the Frontier History Encampment at Lamar Community College this past Friday and Saturday. The event, which is held every two years, has grown in scope and attendance with each display, featuring thirteen points of interest and information on the LCC campus.  Barb Melfi, surrounded by short distance targets in her display area, talked about the life and times of the western legend who earned a reputation for a steady hand and a keen eye in the Wild West Traveling Circuses that toured America and Europe in a past century.

Barb Melfi as Annie Oakley at Encampment

Friday offered some clouds and wind and didn’t deter several hundred high school and college students from the exhibition, and Saturday brought sunshine and warmer temperatures, but the autumn winds lingered, blowing campfire smoke across the campus through the day. Several exhibits, especially the Homesteaders sites with Fred and Norma Dorenkamp and Chad and Cheryl Hart, had to put up some windbreaks to allow their campfires to heat up enough to cook their meals.  Hart said, “We had to brace against the winds as it just wouldn’t allow our fires to heat up enough to cook our beans,”  Norma Dorenkamp, just a few yards away at her chuckwagon, had the same problem with blowing ashes from her campsite.

Weapons from Civil War Era

Despite the winds, the day brought out young and old who were interested in how our nation developed during the 1800s as each site brought some new level of information for its own decade of commercial and social growth. Blacksmith Park Wood, showed how you could make a spoon, ladle or even a cup by pounding heated metal into shapes using specially made equipment or even the small indentation of a tree trunk which served as a mold for a spoon.  1830s Mountain Men/Field Traders, Bill Bailey, Greg Waltrip and Ralph Melfi served as sources of information on the logistics of matching buyers with sellers and how pelt traders would operate a moving factory of some 30 people who could catch, skin and cure beaver pelts and transport them back to such areas as Bent’s Fort for future sale.

Trapper Displays Goods at Encampment

The Civil War cannons were missing from this year’s exhibition, but there was still a crowd who learned about weaponry and soldering from the 1860s. Some colorful garb was showcased by Dennis and Matthew Seifker, as Zouave soldiers from New York and Louisiana.

Young Buffalo Bill Cody at LCC Encampment

Each display, from pioneers and merchants to hunters and soldiers, took the time to speak about the special period they represented, from bullets to buffalo and from entertainers to entrepreneurs; the re-enactors have taken the time to research their material so as to provide a uniquely realistic presentation. That’s one of the reasons the LCC Encampment has become popular and continues to appeal to the generations that have followed in their footsteps.

By Russ Baldwin

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