Hiking through history

Fort Reno hosts first spirit tour in over two years

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Sarah Pierce discusses the history of a building that now houses the United States Cavalry Association and Museum. The building was part of the Historic Fort Reno Board, Inc. Spirit Tour Saturday night. (Photo by Michael Pineda)

By Michael Pineda
Staff Writer

 

A cool breeze swept through the grounds of Historic Fort Reno, offering a good omen on behalf of orbs and spirits, apparently happy to see visitors once again.

For the first time in more than two years, the Historic Fort Reno Board, Inc. hosted a spirit tour. A total of 20 history and ghost enthusiasts began a tour at dusk that offered stories of people in year’s past who left a mark in the fort.

“I am kind of glad it was a small turnout, so we could get our feet wet,” board president Marie Hirst said. “Wendy (Ogden) was so excited, she couldn’t help herself, filling the people in on the information. 

“It did run a little later than we would normally run. Everybody said they loved it. We were tickled to death to have people, and I think the spirits loved it too.”

Ogden, the museum director and curator, led a tour that began at the visitor’s center. Dressed up as Moka, the third wife of Army scout and translator Ben Clark, Ogden led the way to the existing buildings at the fort. Volunteers dressed up in period costumes provided background on the buildings, people that had lived there and ghost stories as well.

“There is a lot of history there,” Hirst said. “There are the little things that you remember sometimes that are interesting.”

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Hirst herself had a moment when she saw a man in the distance who startled her before she realized it was a volunteer. There was also a picture taken by Sarah Pierce of volunteer Seeley Chronister that appears to include the image of a young boy. 

There were no young boys on the tour.

“There are some interesting things that happen,” Hirst said. “But it is a lot of fun. Everybody had a blast.”

Volunteers had cards to read off of and plenty of help from Ogden and others to fill in the gaps. There were 11 to 12 volunteers providing a helping hand. After the tour around the fort square, everyone jumped in their car for the grand finale, a tour of the fort cemetery. 

Inside the cemetery, there were some stories to be told of those resting in peace dating back to the mid-1800s all the way through World II when German and Italian prisoners of war were housed at the fort.
“I can’t wait to do Tombstone Tales,” Hirst said. “We are all at the cemetery and we bring a Chuckwagon out for a dinner. People go to tombstones and portray the person. There is a whole lot of information that can be told.

“We have a lot of people that do stuff, some of them are young people that want to be an actor. It is a lot of fun.”

No date is set for Tombstones Tales. The next spirit tour is set for July 30. The fort itself is open for visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and is located at 7107 W. Cheyenne Street in El Reno.

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