One step across the threshold of the Fort Meigs Visitor Center today transported Founder's Day attendees to life circa 1813, the very February day that the fort's construction began 200 years ago.
Curled shavings from hand-hewed boards and twine trimmings from crank-twisted rope littered the foyer floor, and smells of fresh gingerbread baked in a Dutch oven drew visitors through the center in Perrysburg.
The loud report of a fusillade alerted everyone to the action outside, where re-enactors in full army and militia uniforms demonstrated weapons used when the fort was first constructed to give U.S. forces a foothold in the Northwest Territory during the War of 1812.
Tom Birkenbach, of Paw Paw, Mich, held his flint lock rifle with chilled fingers after coming inside from the snowy conditions. Still, his role had been an important one in the battles against besieging British forces.
"A rifle brings accuracy to 200 to 300 yards," he said, as opposed to 30-40 yards for a musket.
John Morgenstern, of Point Place, visited Fort Meigs on Saturday with his family. He said he likes to hunt with a muzzle-loading rifle, and that while many of the concepts are the same, he is grateful for the improvements to modern guns.
"There's 100 years of difference there," he said.
This is a developing story. See Sunday's print and online editions for more on Founder's Day and the 200th anniversary of Fort Meigs.