Open house displays history

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  • CARL NORDBERG, center, and granddaughter Carli Nordberg, right, watch as Donna Peck spins sheep’s wool on Saturday, May 5 at Fort Connah, north of St. Ignatius. Volunteers reenacted life during the 1840s, when Fort Connah was still in use during the Fort Connah Rendezvous. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

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    GARY STEELE, left, kneels as he teaches Meadow Mikkelsen, 3, how to shoot a bow and arrow. Behind them is Jamason Mikkelsen, 9. The Mikkelsen family, from Hot Springs, spent the morning at Fort Connah during the annual Rendezvous. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

  • CARL NORDBERG, center, and granddaughter Carli Nordberg, right, watch as Donna Peck spins sheep’s wool on Saturday, May 5 at Fort Connah, north of St. Ignatius. Volunteers reenacted life during the 1840s, when Fort Connah was still in use during the Fort Connah Rendezvous. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

  • 1

    GARY STEELE, left, kneels as he teaches Meadow Mikkelsen, 3, how to shoot a bow and arrow. Behind them is Jamason Mikkelsen, 9. The Mikkelsen family, from Hot Springs, spent the morning at Fort Connah during the annual Rendezvous. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

As she listened to local fiber artist Donna Peck explain the process of how wool was spun years ago, Carli Nordberg’s newly purchased beaded earring danced in the breeze.

Visiting the Fort Connah Rendezvous Saturday, May 5 with her grandfather, Carl Nordberg, Carli, 7, listened and watched as historical reenactments unfolded before her eyes.

Carl said that while he’s lived in the area for years, he never visited Fort Connah before and decided to go this yearwith his granddaughter.

“It’s just neat to see the live history,” he said, adding that the display on wool was “neat as heck.”

“I like the old buildings” Carl said.

Twice a year, weather permitting, the Fort Connah Restoration Society holds the open house, complete with reenactments of how the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post once operated.

Teepees, crafts and archery are offered on the land to the east of the structure, while baked goods and trinkets are for sale inside during the rendezvous.

Located just north of St. Ignatius on U.S. Highway 93, Fort Connah is the oldest still-standing building in Montana.

In 1846, Neil McArthur began building the structure, which was completed in 1847 by Angus McDonald.

McDonald, from Scotland, chose to call the post “Connen,” after a river valley in his homeland.

A tribal man named Francois Finlay had trouble pronouncing the word, causing McDonald to later change the name to “Connah.”

Fort Connah was closed in 1871 following the establishment of the northern boundary of the United States.

The fort is in the beginning stages of development as a historic reconstruction of the 1850s.

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