Tours of the Old Fort

Cory Balkenbusch (from left), Harrison Snyder, and Will O’Brien are among the reenactors who will be on hand weekends this summer at the Old Fort.

This summer, visitors are invited to take private tours with a historical reenactor at the Old Fort on Spy Run. Gates will be open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and from noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.

“The goal is to pick up on foot traffic that is going down the bike trail and to give families the opportunity to get a private guided tour that they wouldn’t be able to do during a busy event,” explained Cory Balkenbusch, a volunteer at th Old Fort.

While the Fort has been open for major, once-a-month events for some time, this program of opening the Fort during the summer weeks began in 2019. Balkenbusch said that the weekday interpreters are “younger volunteers that are willing to put in time during the summer because (they aren’t) in school.”

The guide on duty can take visitors over the grounds, and can answer questions about the structures, his uniform, and more. If visitors would rather wander on their own without a guide, the windows on the buildings will be open, so that they can peek inside the different structures.

Balkenbusch said that if guests wish, the modern restrooms and gift shop may be open on request, if a reenactor is not tied up with a tour group.

On Thursdays, artisan workers will be on site. Artisans may include woodworkers, tinsmiths and blacksmiths. Balkenbusch said that because this is an all-volunteer event, “It really varies each week, depending on who’s available.”

Saturday and Sunday will be days when more military reenactors can be at the Fort. If visitors want to know more about Fort life and protocols of the past, the reenactors will be on hand to show them how things work. Balkenbusch drew the line at firing a canon frequently, however, as the noise can be disruptive for the neighborhood.

The Old Fort will be open for pedestrian tourists through Aug. 1. The new program began June 2.There will be some big weekend events that have reenactors from many different time periods (like Vikings, Romans and World War II soldiers).

But daily events hosted by the Old Fort Guard are meant to illustrate Fort Wayne life as it was for soldiers who served here, when the American fort was standing. “This is one of the chances to see it as it should be for 1816,” said Balkenbusch.

The Old Fort is at 1201 Spy Run Ave., Fort Wayne. Summer hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, and noon-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free; donations are accepted.

For more information, visit the Old Fort’s website, oldfortwayne.org.

If you have a group of 10 or more people, the Old Fort asks that you call before you arrive, to help the tour guide prepare. Call 260-437-2836.

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