If you're planning to take in Living History Weekend activities today and Sunday at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, you will find plenty of interesting things to see and experience.
But you also might want to spend a few minutes checking out the town that serves as the old military post's gateway: Fort Calhoun, Neb.
If you can't make it this weekend, Fort Atkinson will have another Living History Weekend Oct. 6 and 7 and a Candle Light Tour on Nov. 3.
This fall also promises an exciting event, the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street exhibit, “Journey Stories,” Oct. 15 to Nov. 17 at the Washington County Museum. It will be the only metro-area museum to host the exhibit.
The small town — 908 people as of the 2010 Census — was built on a site claimed by John Goss in 1854. He gave the land to the Fort Calhoun Townsite Co. The town was platted in 1855 and was incorporated the next year.
Fort Calhoun was the Washington County seat from 1854 to 1858, when it was moved to DeSoto. In 1861, the seat moved back to Fort Calhoun, but in 1867, it was lost to Blair.
It doesn't take long to drive from one end of town to the other. But the main street, North 14th Street, and some of its side streets offer interesting sights.
These are just a few.
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A. This abstract design is on the front of the old R&R Pioneer Foods, 106 N. 14th St. It was built in 1905 after Henry Rix sold his store to his brother-in-law, Fred Frahm. It was a functioning grocery store until a few years ago, but now sits empty. The Masonic Lodge shares the building on the north end.
B. Part of a painting of a compass face on the sidewalk in front of Too Far North, 111 N. 14th St. The building is a gift/wine tasting shop that features wines from numerous area wineries.
C. A window of an old house that sits behind the Washington County Museum, 102 N. 14th St. The house was built in 1895 by Carl Feldheusen, who sold it to William Sievers, a Fort Calhoun business leader, in 1905. By the way, the museum, partly located in the old Fort Calhoun State Bank building, is the oldest county museum in the state.
D. In West Market Square Park at 15th and Monroe Streets, there is a big rock. The rock, which doesn't seem to have special significance other than being big, celebrates Lewis & Clark. A project of the Daughters of the American Revolution for the site of the First Council, it started out at the old school, then was moved to the park in 1919 as a part of centennial events for Fort Atkinson.
E. The welcome sign in front of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 13th and Adams Streets, boasts stained glass.
F. Detail of the wrought iron fence on a bridge that crosses a culvert in West Market Square Park at 15th and Monroe Streets.
G. Across the street from the park stands a Queen Anne Victorian house, 1418 Monroe St. The house has gingerbread decorations in the stately colors of dark red, white and gray.
The quaint Too Far North Shop also features old-fashioned decorative items, including this light fixture.
Fort Calhoun's Enhancement Committee hangs banners from light poles along North 14th Street. The banners, often appropriate to the season, are changed frequently.
The side support of a concrete bench sitting in the Rosalie Freburg memorial garden in front of the town's City Hall building, the old fire barn. Freburg was city clerk for 25 years.