Saturday, August 9, 2014

First Timeline at Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation

I have just returned from my first visit to a living history 'timeline' at the Ridley Creek Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation.

 There were not many reenactors in attendance, but there were 3 Union soldiers, one Union Zouave, maybe 5 or 6 Confederates from the Civil War, the regular Plantation volunteers as Colonial farm residents, two men from 1812, a small squad of Russian Soviet World War II infantry, a squad of US World War II Marines, some WACs, I saw one German and even two 17th century Ukrainian Cossacks armed with sabers.

It was a motley assortment of reenactors from a broad span of time periods, but everyone seemed to be good friends.  I decided to go as a tourist this time around as I had not registered for this event, some of these things are invitation only and I didn't want to be the odd guy showing up who nobody invited... but the whole thing turned out to be very laid-back and relaxed. I could have gotten in easily and my PA Bucktail infantry impression would have made for some great photo ops.  Oh well, now I know for next year.

The latest harvest hung up to dry in the 1700s kitchen, including tobacco and these fresh onions.

I just enjoy being at the Colonial Plantation.  Every time I walk into this place I feel like I am in a sort of "time bubble."  Nothing changes here, everything stays familiar.  The serene setting among the wooded hills is so peaceful, with no modern intrusions like power lines or traffic; only natural sounds of birds and animals, crickets and water flowing down the rocky creek.  It's a perfect place to forget what century you are in...and so it makes an ideal backdrop for several different time periods of reenacting.

From the moment you enter this place that time forgot, you just have to take in a deep breath and absorb the green surroundings and the sights, sounds and smells of country life. It was hard living off the land this way, but it was simple and honest. Very close to nature and in harmony with the earth.  I think it's the way people were meant to live.

Inside the house, especially the kitchen, a visitor is amazed at the primitive but clever methods of housework, cooking and gardening.  Everything is made of solid organic materials; the wood table, furniture and tools are so worn from centuries of use, but they are still usable! As if the older these objects get, the better and stronger they are.

Unlike most historical places where the idea is to "look but don't touch," visitors are sometimes (with supervision) allowed to pick up, use and handle the objects as they were intended.

One thing is certain...this place was meant to endure.

Turkeys foraging around the camps.
One of the Cossack soldiers displaying his curved saber. 
Both the Cossacks and the Polish Commonwealth used Eastern styles of weapons
adopted from the Turkish forces that invaded their homelands.

He shows just how sharp these blades were by splitting a water bottle neatly in half.

I have been invited to come out next year dressed in my Civil War Bucktail Infantry impression. I am certainly looking forward to the 1860s skirmish here next month.

If you would like to plan a visit to the Plantation, or have an interest in volunteering for a living history event, please visit their website: