Fort Museum at Fort Dodge Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Wednesday, August 06 2014 20:52   Museums

The Fort Museum, located in Fort Dodge, Iowa, is celebrating their 50th Anniversary with a new website, commemorative pin, historic building and exhibit updates and educational programs.

History comes alive at the Fort Museum located at the intersections of Business 20 and Highway 169 in Fort Dodge. This year the Fort Museum celebrates 50 years and invites everyone to "Experience Your History" as they visit the historical buildings and exhibits.

In 1964, a messenger news item revealed O. L. Marquesen, general chairman of the Fort Dodge Historical Museum, chaired a meeting revealing “A replica of the original army fort and stockade, constructed on the site of Fort Dodge in 1850, will be built within the city."

Today visitors are able to view a historic downtown with original and replicated buildings such as a school house, blacksmith shop, print shop, Donahoe's General Store, church, drug store and other various buildings that you would find as you stroll a community in the 1800s.

The Fort Museum is also the location of General Armistead's actual building he used during his stay in Fort Dodge before the Civil War. In 1863, during a fight at the Battle of Gettysburg, Lewis Armistead was shot three times but was expected to survive.

On July 5, 1863, he died in the Union 11th Corps hospital at the age of 46. He was buried in Baltimore, Maryland next to his uncle, Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead. There were approximately 45,000 soldiers that were killed, wounded or missing in this battle and more than 3,000 horses died as well.

Considered the greatest archaeological hoax of all times is the Cardiff Giant. The actual gypsum used for the Cardiff Giant is from Fort Dodge. The Cardiff Giant or also known as the “petrified man” was 10 feet, 4 and a half inches tall. You can see a replica at the musem.

The "Giant" was uncovered on Oct. 16, 1869 in Cardiff, New York on the property of William C. “Stub” Newell by workers digging a well behind a barn. This site soon became a viewing exhibit to the public with an admission of 25 cents and visitors can view a replica of the giant.

P.T. Barnum offered to buy the Cardiff Giant for $50,000, but was turned down. Barnum then created his own giant, and claimed his was the real giant and that the other Cardiff Giant was a fake. The newspapers took P.T. Barnum's claim and ran with it to create a great Barnum story.

Other great stories and information can also be found on the Spirit Lake Massacre, Dragoons and Dragoon Trail, stoneware and pottery collections along with other famous Fort Dodger's such as Senator Jonathan Dolliver, Adeline Swain and Assistant Attorney General of the US William Kenyon.

"Our visitors find that history comes alive with our audio tour and a wealth of information about the important events and individuals from Fort Dodge that helped shape our country." said Fort Museum Director Alan Schaefer. "To help celebrate, we are offering our visitors a special 50th Anniversary Commemorative pin that is included along with their admission for $10."

The 1862 military fort and frontier town with 18 original and replica buildings features American Indian, pioneer and military artifacts.

The Fort Museum will remain open until Mid - October, seven days a week. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Fort Museum is located at 1 Museum Road, Fort Dodge, IA. The website of is filled with information and hours of operation. For direct contact you can also call (515) 573 – 4231.