Walking into the past has never been so easy
by Amanda Currie
Inside the Fort St. Joseph Visitor Center you are transported to 1812 in less than a heartbeat. The museum offers visitors a look and feel of life at Fort St. Joseph. The uniforms, artillery, and way of life are depicted in displays and sounds. However, before you can appreciate the past you need to appreciate the present. This is where I would like to take you—behind the scenes into what the Asset/Maintenance crew do for visitors.
Like the ghosts that haunt the trails and ruins at the fort, this crew is constantly doing great work without being seen by visitors. The latest project tackled by the crew was the replacement of the entrance boardwalk to the Visitor Centre. You might not actually notice but you will feel a difference as you are led by this 40 m (125 ft) long boardwalk to the beginning of your journey into the past. Visitor safety is paramount and the old boardwalk had been identified as a priority to be replaced. Like the men and women of the old fort, the passion and skill of the Asset crew resulted in something that is built to last.
The boardwalk is your first connection to the past, whether you recognize it or not. The wood decking is solid and sturdy as you step on it, just like the ruins were built strong and meant to withstand force. The irony of the situation is that the greatest threat to the new boardwalk is fire and that was what eventually destroyed the fort.
The locally milled wood and other materials used give a holistic feeling about where you are and what you are about to embark on. The boardwalk’s style is simple and provides a sense of security as you make your way to the doors of the past. The Asset crew take these feelings and emotions into account while they are constructing these structures. They want your experience to be exciting and exhilarating and not overshadowed by aging and unsafe structures. Not only are they skilled in construction but skilled in making you feel things that you never would have imagined... like feeling connected to something as simple as a wooden boardwalk. Come and visit the past by walking on the present!