Red Top recreates the homestead life
by John DeFoor
Apr 22, 2012 | 1811 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Blacksmith Richard Reyes turns the blower and gives a little kick to make the fire hotter. Reyes and blacksmith John Nash Jr. are among the demonstrators at the Red Top Mountain State Park Spring Time at the Homestead event.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Children and adults experienced firsthand the life of 1860s at Red Top Mountain State Park's Spring Time at the Homestead, Saturday afternoon.

"This is more of a living history, of what it would have been like during the Civil War," said Marcus Toft, Naturalist for Red Top State Park.

"One of the main misconceptions about the past in general is, we always think it was very simple and would have been a great time to live -- kinda 'the grass is always greener' type of thing," Toft said. "But people can come here and really see how difficult a lot of times life was. Especially during the summer when we do this, we have a demonstrator inside cooking and it's 90 degrees outside then and she's in front of a roaring fire. So, that's not exactly ideal or comfortable. You can go see our blacksmith and how difficult it was to make a lot of the metal tools you would need. We have spinning, to see how cloth and fiber were made. It's not as simple as going out to Walmart today. People can get an understanding of the different jobs and processes that are more involved than we're used to."

Attending the event was various hikers, Boy Scouts groups, and families. Eleven-year-old Avery Roland came with his family. His favorite part of the event was seeing the blacksmith.

"Because back then that was the only way they could make metal and if you wanted anything like nails or stuff you'd have to go there instead of Home Depot," he said.

Six-year-old Sulli Knight's favorite part was "the metal stuff -- because it was cool and he burnt it and bent it. He made horseshoes and forks."

"What we hope to do is open [children's eyes] and get them away from Nintendo, Xbox, and television, and get out to see how people lived and worked back then," said blacksmith John Nash. "Hopefully someone that is 10, 12, 15 years old will remember this, learn about and do it for the next 50 years."

"[Vaughan Cabin] is a great resource for us to have because we can host events like this," Toft said. "A lot of times living histories are set up through a reenactment camp where there's not permanent structure. It's a great resource to be able do these living histories and show people the way life was lived back then."

During the event a group of musicians played on the wooden cabin's porch.

"We call them the 'porch pickers,'" Toft said.

Peggy Martin was among the musicians. She played a dulcimer, in three-string configuration -- "Also, known as a hog fiddle, they call them in South Carolina," she said. Other instruments played on the porch included a hammered dulcimer -- which is a stringed instrument stretched over a sounding board and played with mallet hammers -- and a bowed dulcimer -- which according to Martin, has a deeper voice.

"This is not blue grass, this is more roots, old time," she said. "We play tunes that came from the British isles -- Scotland, England, Wales. A lot you would recognize because they have become blue grass and they have become modern, but they've changed."

The event continues today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On May 5, the park will have Archaeology Day and Iron Pour.

"During that day, we're going to have a tour of one of our historic iron mines that's here at Red Top," Toft said. "We're also going to have Puzzled, an archaeology hands on activity, specially for kids where they can try to piece together broken pots and things, do what archaeologists do."