Heritage center celebrates historic forts with a few bangs

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The eighth annual Historic Forts Day will be held this Saturday at El Camino Real International Heritage Center south of Socorro. Enjoyed by the entire family or history buffs alike, the annual event focuses on living history of the Territorial military days, Fort Craig, and the Camino Real trail.

Paul Harden/For El Defensor Chieftain: El Camino Real International Heritage Center will be home to a company of Confederate soldiers this Saturday for Historic Forts Day. Forts Day begins at 10 a.m. with a re-enactment.

Civil War re-enactors will have an 1860s period camp with artillery and camp-life demonstrations throughout the day. There will be a reenactment of the skirmish in Sheep Canyon at 10 a.m., including the firing of their eight-pound mountain howitzer from the canyon.

At 10:45 a.m., a slide presentation by reenactor Phil Gregory shares last year’s experience of retracing the 1862 Confederate retreat around Socorro, and what they learned about the famous retreat. Bureau of Land Management archaeologist Sara Stibbins will speak at 11:30 a.m. about the history of Fort Craig, built to protect travelers along El Camino Real Trail.

Lunch will be served at noon with $2 hotdogs and $5 hamburgers, or individual may bring their own lunches. Another artillery and camp life demonstration will be held at 1 p.m.

At 2 p.m., attendees are invited to drive the seven miles to Fort Craig. BLM personnel from the Socorro Field Office will be on hand to answer questions and provide guided tours of the fort. There is no admission fee to Fort Craig. People don’t want to miss this unique opportunity to explore one of the few frontier forts remaining in the Southwest with the expertise of the BLM guides.

For the more adventurous, there will be special guided tours of the San Marcial town site; view and description of the Valverde battlefield and a walk along a portion of El Camino Real trail, Fort Craig, and other stops of interest. The guided tours are $25 per car and departs at 1:30 and 2 p.m., led by local historians Paul Harden and Peggy Hardman.

El Camino Real International Heritage Center is located south of Socorro on Interstate-25 at exit 115. All activities are included with the $5 monument admission, children under 16 and U.S. veterans are admitted free. Optional lunch and guided tour cost extra.

For more information, contact the Camino Real Center at 575-854-3600, or visit www.elcaminoreal.org for the complete agenda. Historic Forts Day is sponsored by the Socorro volunteers of the Camino Real Foundation.