[Courtesy Mike Brindle, Wilderness Road State Park]
ELYDALE – Ever wondered what it was like on Virginia’s 18th century frontier? Was it dangerous? How did the men and women traveling the Wilderness Road survive? Now, you can see, hear, touch and smell colonial life in the late 1700’s and witness history come alive as hundreds of living historians re-enact life at Joseph Martin’s frontier fort. Watch as two cultures clash and the flames of war are once again ignited on Virginia’s frontier. Frontier battles between the natives and the settlers highlight the 17th annual Raid at Martin’s (May 12-14) at 1 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. War is imminent.
The Raid at Martin’s Station reenactment can be better described as an “on-going living history demonstration” rather than a “reenactment” by its usual definition. While the event is hosted and coordinated by Wilderness Road State Park, it is the park’s citizen support organization, the Friends of Wilderness Road State Park that sponsors the event.
More than 450 re-enactors, merchants, artists and artisans bring history to life during the Raid at Martin’s Station. Visitors will be able to walk through and shop at an 18th-century market fair, visit a Cherokee Indian camp, listen to colonial music and tour Historic Martin’s Station. The event features Saturday afternoon and evening frontier battles between the militia at Martin’s Station and Native American re-enactors. Battles start at 1 and 8:30 p.m. on Saturday only.
Activities are scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $10.00 per vehicle Friday and Saturday; and $4 per vehicle on Sunday. Friday is a special school day with students from the tri-state area treated to more than 10 frontier demonstration stations at the fort. Admission for the Friday school day is $1 per student.
Friday is school day at the Raid featuring interpretive stations that students can visit to learn more about life on the frontier, survival tactics, Cherokee culture and more. The gunsmith and blacksmith shops tend to be amongst the most popular stations on school day, along with the livestock of course.
Throughout the three-day event, witness various 18th century demonstrations such as hide tanning, spinning, colonial fishing, artillery firing, musket firing, militia drilling, open-hearth cooking, colonial medicine and more. Also visit with world-renowned frontier artists, such as Andrew Knez Jr., Dennis Muzzy and Steve White, who will showcase their original works in the visitor center. There will also be free seminars on 18th-century topics conducted by Wallace Gusler and Eve Otmar. The Powder Horn Gift Shop will also be open, and the 20-minute film “Wilderness Road, Spirit of a Nation” will be playing in the visitor center theatre.
Sunday activities consist of an encore seminar by Gusler and Otmar as well as an 18th century church service and the lowering of the colors to represent the end of the three-day event.
Historic Martin’s Station is the re-creation of Captain Joseph Martin’s Fort originally built in 1775 near present day Rose Hill, Virginia. The station played a key role in the settlement of the American frontier and Westward expansion during the Revolutionary War.
For more information, please contact the park office at 276-445-3065 or visit the park’s official website at www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/wilderness-road.shtml. You can also visit the Friends of Wilderness Road State Park official website: www.friendsofwildernessroad.org or Martin’s Station’s website at www.historicmartinsstation.com.
For more information on all of Virginia’s award-winning state parks call toll-free 1-800-933-PARK (7275) or visit www.virginiastateparks.gov. The award-winning Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.