I love helping history come alive for people. Living History connects people to the past and helps them understand more about the present. Here at Pipe Spring National Monument, Tom and I have the opportunity to give living history demonstrations most of the days we work.
Every ranger here at Pipe Spring is expected to have at least two living history demonstrations. On days when I have at least three hours scheduled for living history, I get out my textiles demonstration. I demonstrate spinning and talk about the different fibers the women had available to them. I set up in the shade by the ponds, which is a lovely location. But I have to haul lots of stuff out there so it takes a while to set up and put away. I am the only one at the monument who spins and talks about textiles.
When I have less time, I weave on the loom. The loom is already set up on the back porch. All I have to do to weave is take the tarp off the loom and carry out my weaving basket. In the basket I have the rags I use on the loom. I also have the plastic hand looms to let kids and adults try their hand at weaving. Two other rangers also do the weaving demonstration and it is very popular with our guests.
Tom is the blacksmith and will do that on days when he has at least three hours. Usually he does blacksmithing all day. Maintenance people and the other rangers ask him for specific things and he enjoys figuring out how to make them. So far this year he has made a stand for comment cards, lots of branding irons for those demonstrations, and several hooks for different uses. He is also making some historic tools and learning how to make a chain.
On days when he has less time, Tom does a telegraph demonstration. Pipe Spring had the first telegraph in Arizona. So Tom built a sending and receiving station with the historically correct batteries to run them. People can practice sending and receiving Morse code messages.
All of the rangers do living history demonstrations according to their interests and abilities. Melonie plays religious music on her violin. Miranda makes rag dolls. Sarah filters water from the spring and offers it to visitors. Autumn and Benn do traditional Paiute crafts. Teresa talks about the Pioneer Garden. Several of the rangers do a branding demonstration which is very popular.
Unfortunately, with the very dry weather we have had, there is a fire ban for the park. This means that none of the demonstrations can use fire until the ban is lifted. Blacksmithing, branding, and cooking will have to wait until we get some rain.
Our guests love to come to the park and see the living history demonstrations offered by the rangers. They are an unexpected bonus and people will leave saying, “I never knew how they did that! But now I understand.” Words we love to hear.