WEDNESDAY, MAY 2, 2018
Thanks to a keen eye and quick action the Fort Osage National Historic Landmark was saved from an out of control grass fire.
Laura King was working as the gift shop attendant in the Education Center and was the last associate onsite for the day. She was getting ready to lock up for the day on February 18, when she noticed a few wisps of grey smoke coming up the hill from the river bank. Thinking that was a bit odd she looked down over the hill and she noticed a small brush fire down by the Missouri River, north of the Fort and Education Center. She went inside immediately and called 911 to let them know of the fire.
Due to dry conditions and high-wind, the fire spread quickly and soon reached the fort with red flames as high as the first floor of Blockhouse Two. She called 911 back to let them know that the fire was approaching the historic buildings and education center, and that the Fort needed fire assistance as soon as possible. She hurried to unlock the main gate to allow first responders through to the Fort. Laura also went to the home of another associate who lives adjacent to the Fort, she asked for his help in unlocking as many areas as possible before the fire fighters arrived.
Laura called everyone in the chain of leadership to inform them of the fire. She then continued to provide information to the Parks + Rec director regarding the condition of the Fort, number of first responders and media on-site until leadership arrived.
Parks + Rec Director Michele Newman remembered when Laura called to fill her in on the fire and what was happening, “I said Laura where are you and she said well I’m in the education center. I said can you see fire around you and she said yeah I can the grass is on fire outside the education center. I said Laura get as far away from that education center as you can. Please go outside and get as far away from the building as you possibly can. Now I’m worried about Laura. I just want Laura to be safe.”
“Frankly it was Laura’s sound judgement and her jumping on as quickly as she could and getting those first responders here that I truly believe saved that fort that we all know and that we all love,” Newman said.
“Jackson County Parks + Rec is very thankful of her quick action and proud of Laura, a dedicated associate of Jackson County and its Historic Sites for the last 42 years,” Historic Site Administrator Jonathan Klusmeyer said.
The buildings in the fort only received minor damage from the fire.
Built under the direction of General William Clark, Fort Osage was established in 1808 as a military outpost in the newly acquired Louisiana Territory. The Fort’s purpose was to provide a military presence in the territory in order to assure Spain, France and Great Britain that the United States meant to protect its territory by military strength and to establish healthy relations with the Native American population in the territory. It was closed in 1827.
Jackson County purchased a 14-acre tract surrounding the fort’s location early in 1941 and was established as one of the earliest county parks. It was the first county park to be operated as an historic site. Reconstruction began in 1948 and was completed in 1961. It is intended to represent the fort as it was in 1812 with a factory building, officer’s quarters, five blockhouses, soldier’s huts, a blacksmith’s shop and a partial stockade.
Jackson County Parks + Rec’s Fort Osage National Landmark and Education Center scheduled to re-open
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Fort Osage National Historic Landmark and Education Center will re-open to the public on February 27 under normal operating hours of 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.
Owned and operated by Jackson County Parks + Rec, the Fort and Education Center have been closed after sustaining damage in a grass fire on the evening of February 18. Firefighters say strong winds and dry weather conditions caused the fire to spread to the historic landmark. Investigators have narrowed down where the grass fire possibly started, but an exact cause is officially undetermined. No one was hurt.
“We are extremely grateful for our Associate’s quick action in calling for help and to the many fire departments who responded,” said Parks + Rec Director Michele Newman. “It’s very fortunate that Fort Osage did not sustain more damage.”
The damage to the Fort was isolated to two block houses, the officer’s quarters and portions of the palisade fence. Damage to Block House 2 is limited to the roof. Damage to Block House 5 is limited to one cannon port. The officer’s quarters sustained significant interior damage, but remains structurally sound.
The grass fire extended within feet of the Education Center, but due to the concrete makeup of the building, there was no damage to the outside or inside of the structure. Smoke did enter the facility and has since been removed through new filters for the HVAC system.
The large majority of items impacted by the grass fire were reproduction items, such as rope beds and military uniforms. Those items are used for interpretation, which is an important component to the Fort Osage experience.
“Interpretation will not be affected by the grass fire, as these items are being replaced and can still be observed in other locations within the Fort Complex,” Newman said.
Scouting overnights, school tours and other events at the Fort will continue as planned. New this year are themed weekends, where visitors can enjoy fun experiences such as a mid-1800s wedding, a military court martial, hearth cooking and more.
Built in 1808 under the direction of William Clark of Lewis and Clark, Fort Osage functioned as one of the first military outposts and government trade houses in the Louisiana Purchase. Planning for the reconstruction of Fort Osage began in the 1940s, but was placed on hold during World War II. The construction of the Fort resumed in the late 40s into the 1950s. Fort Osage received its National Historic Landmark designation in 1961.
Located on the banks of the scenic Missouri River in Sibley, MO, the historic site has been reconstructed to portray Fort Osage as it was in 1812. Authentically-attired interpreters provide living history insights into the daily life of both the military and civilian populations.
The Education Center opened in November 2007 to augment educational programming to the thousands of students who participate in programs at the National Historic Landmark. The Center features an exhibit area, meeting rooms, an auditorium and conservation laboratory.
We are happy to report that Fort Osage National Historic Landmark will re-open to the public on Tuesday, February 27th, after a fire last Sunday caused its temporary closing while damages could be assessed.
Fort Osage National Historic Landmark, owned and operated by Jackson County Parks + Rec, will be closed indefinitely after sustaining damage from a grass fire.
Fire crews from multiple agencies, including Ft. Osage, Independence, Sni Valley, Central Jackson County, Liberty, and Wellington-Napoleon, responded to the scene around 5 p.m. Sunday. An investigation is underway to determine how and where the grass fire started, but firefighters say high winds and dry weather conditions caused the fire to spread to the historic landmark.
An initial assessment by Parks + Rec staff has determined that three buildings and a fence at Fort Osage sustained damage. The full extent of the damage is unknown.
The Fort Osage Education Center was not damaged by the grass fire, but smoke entered the building. As a result, it will also be closed indefinitely.
More information will be posted as it becomes available.
Join scholars and presenters at Fort Osage National Historic Landmark for the 28th annual War of 1812 Symposium. This symposium is the longest continuous War of 1812 symposium in the United States. The event is free to the public with an additional fee to tour the Fort. Authors will also be available for book signings during the event.
Saturday, March 24th, 2018
9:00 A.M. - Welcome and introductory comments by David C. Bennett.
9:10 A.M. - “Henry Dodge: A New Look at the 1814 Action on Miami Bend” by Hal Youmans, Colonel, USA, Ret., Contributor to Encyclopedia of the War of 1812, ABC-CLIO 2012; Past Editor of the Journal of the War of 1812, author of numerous articles on the War of 1812.
10:00 A.M. - “The Osage Nation: From the Louisiana Purchase to the Treaty of Portage des Sioux” by Michael Dickey, a 30 year plus veteran with Missouri Natural Resources, Administrator Arrow Rock Missouri State Historic Site & Sappington Cemetery & Boones Lick Historic Site; author People of the Rivers Mouth: In Search of the Missouria Indians, 2011; Arrow Rock: Crossroads of the Missouri Frontier, 2004.
11:00 A.M - “Bloody Water on Prairie Forks: The Life and Death of Captain James Callaway by Michael D. Harris, Educator, past editor to The Despatch, Contributor to the Encyclopedia of The War of 1812, 2012; past chairmen of the Missouri State War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee; author The Battle of the Sinkhole, May 24, 1815, Journal of the War of 1812, 1997.
12:00 P.M. - Lunch Break
1:30 P.M. - “December 1813: The Fall of Fort Niagara and the Burning of Buffalo” by Richard V. Barbuto, Ph.D., Professor, Retired Deputy Director Military History, US Army Command & General Staff College. Author of The Canadian Theater, 1814, US Army Center of Military History, 2014; Long Range Guns, Close Quarter Combat; The Third United States Artillery regiment in the War of 1812, Old Fort Niagara Association, 2010; Niagara 1814 America Invades Canada, University Press Kansas, 2000; and numerous articles.
2:30 P.M. - “A Review of United States Officers’ Uniforms, 1810-1815” by David C. Bennett, Independent Scholar; author of “First Regiment of United States Infantry at Lundy’s Lane, 25 July 1814,” Military Collector & Historian Journal, 2014; “A New Perspective on the Last Days of Fort Madison,” Journal of the War of 1812, 2009; “A Miniature Portrait of Surgeon Mate John Frederick Heileman, 1753-1816,” Military Collector & Historian Journal, 2009.
3:30 P.M. - “Uncle Sam: The Origins and Evolution of an American Icon” by Donald Hickey, Ph.D., Professor of History, Wayne State College, Nebraska. Author of The War of 1812, A Forgotten Conflict, 1989; Don’t Give Up the Ship! Myths of the War of 1812, 2006; The Rockets’ Red Glare: An Illustrated History of The War Of 1812, 2011, and other books and articles.
6:00 P.M. - Dinner at Sandy's Oak Ridge Manor.
Sunday, March 25, 2018
9:00 A.M. - Welcome and introductory comments by David C. Bennett.
9:10 A.M. - “To Maintain Good Order and Discipline: Crime and Punishment during the War of 1812” by Bill Jordan, Lt. Col. USAF, Ret., Department of the Air Force, US Strategic Command, frequent lecturer U.S. Cavalry and War of 1812 history.
10:00 A.M. - “Medical Care at Fort Osage: New Developments in Research.” By Eric Mathews, Ph.D., Associate Professor research, A.T. Still University, resident subject matter expert on Early American Medicine for the U.S. Army Center of Military History and NPS, author of several articles regarding early American Medicine.
11:00 A.M. - “War of 1812 Artillery in the Missouri Region, Revisited” by Paul Rosewitz, Colonel, USA, Ret., former NPS Ranger St. Louis Arch, National Archives St. Louis, authority on the US Mountain Howitzer & early American Artillery.
12:00 P.M. - The 28th Annual War of 1812 in the West Symposium concludes.
1:00 P.M. - Add On presentation: “Myths of Fort Osage” by David C. Bennett.
The official website for the War of 1812 in the West Symposium can be found at:
Special thanks to David Bennett, Eric Mathews & Steve Luecke for the War of 1812 exhibits and original artifacts. We would also like to thank the staff at Fort Osage National Historic Landmark.
The 28th Symposium is sponsored by the 1st U. States Infantry Living History Organization, and Jackson County Parks + Rec.
No registration or fee is required to attend and open to the public.
Future War of 1812 in the West Symposium location: The 29th Annual, March 23-24, 2019, Arrow Rock State Historic Site, Arrow Rock, Missouri.
The fundraiser on Facebook will run until December 31 at 11:59pm. For those not on Facebook and want to contribute, you can mail us a check or money order made out to, The Society of Friends of Fort Osage. Our mailing address is The Society of Friends of Fort Osage, PO BOX 195, Sibley, MO 64088. Please remember that The Society of Friends of Fort Osage is a 501c3 non profit corporation and your donations are tax deductible.
CLICK HERE TO DONATE!
The Society of Friends of Fort Osage are raising money to purchase a new field carriage for Fort Osage National Historic Landmark and we'd love your support. Any amount is appreciated!
This new carriage and implements will go with our 3lb Verbruggen tube and will be used for the education of the public and for special events and be a permanent addition at the fort.
We will be participating in #GivingTuesday, on November 28, 2017. Facebook will Partner with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to match up to $2 million in donations that are made on Facebook to eligible U.S.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofits and Waive all fees on donations that are made to eligible U.S.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofits on Facebook from 12:00 AM EST on November 28, 2017 to 11:59 PM HST on November 28, 2017.
CLICK HERE TO DONATE!
Please share this fundraiser with any of your history minded friends!
Listed below are the scheduled activities for the 2017 Fall Muster at Fort Osage National Historic Landmark.
Saturday, October 28
9:00 - Troop Parade, Morning Gun & Guard Mount 10:00 - Militia Musters into Service
11:00 - Infantry Drill
12:00 - Roll Call & Whiskey Ration
1:00 - Pay Call
2:00 – Artillery Drill
3:00 - Blockhouse & Fort Defense Demonstration
4:00 - Retreat Parade & Evening gun
Sunday, October 29
9:00 - Troop Parade, Morning Gun & Guard Mount
10:00 - Church Call
11:00 – Inspection, Review & Troop the Colors
12:00 - Roll Call & Whiskey Ration
1:00 - Infantry Musket Reliability Drill
2:00 - Infantry & Artillery Drill
3:00 - Retreat Parade & Evening Gun
Representatives from the National Parks Service will be at the Fort Osage Education Center to discuss a new geotourism program for the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The National Parks Service is looking for community input for this new online program that will connect visitors with the Lewis & Clark Trail.
The meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. in the Fort Osage Education Center.
For more information on the Geotourism Program, please see the attached flyers.
Fort Osage National Historic Landmark is owned and operated by Jackson County Parks + Rec.
“Sans Oreille [Chief of the Little Osage] had made his way into my Sleeping Room, and Stood at my bedside holding the head of the Slain Indian in one hand, and a blazing torch in the other…”
This website is maintained by the Society of Friends of Fort Osage.