4.14.2008,3:34 PM
Fort Richardson: Necessities
Part Five: Bakery, Guardhouse and Magazine

Three noteworthy buildings on the post grounds are pictured below: in the foreground, the bakery; the background, the magazine; and in between, the remains of the guard house.


The bakery occupied its own separate building because it was in operation all day and week, supplying the fort with 600-800 loaves of bread a day. That is a phenomenal amount of bread!! I haven’t eaten that much bread in my lifetime.

The ovens inside are only partially intact. The chimney remains but the ovens themselves have deteriorated. Normally they are small holes surrounded by stone or bricks into which the bread dough is slid to bake. The back room contained a large beehive oven which is also no longer there. I was told the historical society is still debating further restoration of the inside.
Also missing is the stone flooring. The original landowner ‘donated’ the large stones from the floor inside the bakery for inclusion in constructing a church in the town.

Keep in mind that the US government rented the land upon which the fort was built, which was common practice. Consequently, when the Calvary was no longer required in the area of the fort, they were sent to another fort, or elsewhere, and the fort was decommissioned. The troops took everything from the fort that they could transport or auctioned supplies and equipment off to the locals. Sometimes they even dismantled wooden buildings to salvage the wood and use elsewhere. The ground was then returned back to the landowner to do with as he/she wished. Some of the landowners just left structures to rot or fall to disrepair, others rented the remains out for trading posts or other lucrative opportunities.

While meandering between buildings and around the Parade area I found what appeared to be a buried stone foundation for a building. There was no mistaking the shape: long rectangle. I also immediately noticed that the ground was absolutely peppered with deer scat. Little round deer nuggets everywhere, even some appearing to have been deposited in the early morning. Ah ha! So this is where the local deer hang out and party!

Moving on……


Only the foundation of the guardhouse remains. The first structure was made of block like many of the other buildings. Cells were tiny: 4 x 8 feet. Sometimes they were packed with drunken enlisted men. Chiefs Santanta and Kicking Bird were held in the two cells at opposite ends so they could not communicate with each other. Space became limiting so a rock addition with more cells was added onto the block building. Part of those walls still remain, too.


At the far boundary and nearest to the creek is a lone building of fortified cut block: the magazine where explosives and gun powder were stored. The walls are four feet thick and the roof is also brick, vaulted so that the building would implode in the event of an explosion. The original six-inch thick cast iron door has disappeared (I wonder if it is hung in some building in town).



To be continued......

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posted by Macrobe
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