Field Trip Friday: Fort Nisqually Living History Museum

Located in the Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, the Fort Nisqually History Museum is just 30 minutes away from us and yet, this was the first time we’ve been there. We have been missing out! This was one of our best field trips yet! While most of the buildings on site are modeled after the real fort built in the 1830s, the history of the fort was so well preserved that the layout and details are historically accurate. A few of the buildings are the original buildings. The kids and I had so much fun, we could have stayed there all day. I cannot recommend this experience enough.

In my opinion, the fee for the four of us to go was very modest for the experience provided. The kids got a scavenger hunt with a small prize at the end, the employees were dressed in authentic period attire, and they were extremely kid friendly. I was very grateful for their relaxed demeanors with my particularly wiggly toddler as well as their willingness to explain aspects of the fort and their jobs. The employees go about their assigned job on the fort as if they really live there. We got to see them smoke some real ham in their smoke shed. The pig had been butchered on site a month ago and has been preserved in salt as the guy said, “We use everything but the squeal!” They did this just casually, it wasn’t a set up demonstration, we got a private show!

General store. This fort was a major trading post.

The buildings are set up with amazing period artifacts. The kitchen garden is actually used, and their lavender was being dried in a store room. It was just the coolest! By far one of the best things was the blacksmith shop. We watched them light the fire with flint and work iron right in front of us, all while in authentic attire and using a real 1830s forge!

Blacksmiths – these guys were amazing! They told great stories.
Drying lavender harvested from the garden
A lookout tower
Looking down on the store and blacksmith from a tower

When we saw they had chickens naturally we had to inspect them. They had the most gorgeous speckled Sussex rooster and we couldn’t get enough of him. C and I decided we need a speckled Sussex. Or two. Or five. No plastic watering or food holders here! They even kept the chicken coop authentic.

I mean… SO handsome right? It made us miss Lucas (our re-homed rooster) a lot 😢

While wandering around we came across a whole building full of 1830s children’s toys including some stilts which the kids were quite interested in. We didn’t notice till later that Pickle had pinched some of the glass beads used in one of the games but luckily we were able to return them after we found them clutched in her tiny fist a few buildings later. To be fair, they are the same type of bead that I hide in the sandbox for her to find so… understandable mistake. She will tell you otherwise however.

Most of the buildings had 1830s wood stoves actually in use and if you look at the photo above, you can see they chop all their wood on-site!

Kitchen and garden

You can see the outside of the kitchen and the garden in the photo above both. The garden is rather dormant right now obviously but the kitchen had something hanging from the rafters in it being processed for something, and I’ll tell ya, it smelled terrible. I always like to think I’m all hardcore and could live off the land but I’ll tell ya right now- NOPE. I don’t think I’d make it. The smell might be something you get used to but the other daily, let’s say, necessities is not something I’d handle well. There were several privy’s around the fort and while they are not in use I’ve gotta be honest, the pile of corncobs right next to seat ready to be used for wiping was a humbling notion for this pampered bum.

An old painting set being admired by my artist
This lovely woman asked if the kids would like to raise the flag! I then proceeded to give a mom-ily on why the flag has those colors and layout. I’m sure she appreciated it 😬

We had an incredible time at Fort Nisqually and I highly recommend checking it out, if you have kids in tow or not, it is a learning treasure trove for all! I plan on going back during one of their workshops on tin smithing or leather working later this year. I’d imagine it would be interesting to go during each season to see what the fort employees duties are. Let me know if you go, or maybe we will see you there!

Happy weekend friends! Cheers!

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