If you could choose any month to begin building a fort, would you choose February? Feb. 2, 1813, is the day when soldiers started building Fort Meigs on the banks of the Maumee River near present-day Perrysburg (though to be fair, they probably had little choice about it).
This Saturday, February 2, 2013 -- the 200th anniversary of the very day when construction got underway -- you can see how they went about it, as War of 1812 “soldiers,” “civilians” and traditional craftspeople host Founders’ Day, a one-day living history encampment.
See How the Fort Was Built
Visit Fort Meigs this Saturday from 1-4 p.m. and see a re-creation of one of the largest, most complex construction projects of the War of 1812, highlighting what life would have been like for those who built the massive fort in the middle of an Ohio winter.
Outdoors, see soldiers demonstrating War of 1812-era construction techniques like hewing logs and building defensive works. Get a feel for what it was like to be a soldier in 1813 by helping to dig a trench and using a pick axe or shovel to try and break the frozen ground.
Unlike those who built the fort, when you’re done you can step inside the adjacent museum and visitors center, where you can warm up with hot chocolate and other refreshments. See exhibits on the War of 1812, watch as War of 1812 “civilians” demonstrate early 19th-century domestic skills and try hands-on activities.
A Strategic Defense
When finished in April 1813, Fort Meigs covered 10 acres. It went on to withstand two British sieges. Gen. William Henry Harrison used Fort Meigs as a defensive checkpoint to prevent any further British advances into American territory and buy the U.S. time to build a naval force to meet the British in the September 1813 Battle of Lake Erie. Click here to learn more about the story of Fort Meigs at Ohio History Central, our online encyclopedia of Ohio history.
Reconstructed on its original site, today Fort Meigs appears much as it did when completed in 1813. The visitors center houses a museum with exhibits exploring how historians and archaeologists learned what happened there, and featuring War of 1812 weapons, uniforms and related items.
Planning Your Visit
Fort Meigs is at 29100 W. River Rd. in Perrysburg, which is midway between Toledo and Bowling Green. Hours for the special 200th anniversary Founders’ Day event this Saturday, February 2, 2013, are 1-4 p.m. Click here for more Founders’ Day details.
Can’t make it this Saturday? The Fort Meigs Museum and Visitors Center is open year-round Wednesdays-Saturdays 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays Noon-5 p.m. The reconstructed fort, open April through October and currently closed for the winter, reopens Wednesday, April 3, 2013.
Click here to learn more about visiting Fort Meigs.