By Robert Stoneback
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — A one-sixth scale model of the Fort Augusta was dedicated by the Northumberland County Historical Society on Sunday.
More than 40 residents attended the late afternoon ceremony, which featured a performance by the Sunbury City Band and an appearance by The Augusta Regiment, French and Indian War re-enactors.
“We dedicate this model to those brave souls who built this fort in the wilderness of Pennsylvania over 250 years ago,” said Scott Heintzelman, president of the Northumberland County Historical Society. The fort, which was 204 square feet and built on the grounds around the Hunter House, was used as an outpost during the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War in the days when the Susquehanna Valley was on the frontier. The fort stood until the 1790s, when it was dismantled.
Offering a historical perspective on Fort Augusta and the surrounding lands were John Moore, a historical society board member, and Lynn Otto, an Augusta Regiment member. They both asked the audience to consider what the men building the fort had to endure and sacrifice.
“This story cannot be forgotten, should not be forgotten and will not be forgotten,” Otto said.
Also speaking were members of firm Baer Wolf Architects and Zartman Construction, the firms that designed and built the model.
The invocation and benediction of the ceremony were provided by John Bolich of the Augusta Regiment.
Work on the model started at the end of July. The model is expected to be completely finished July 2014. A paved walking area that circles the model and an observation deck extension that overlooks the model fort still need to be built.
“It certainly gives us visibility and allows us to educate our visitors on the history of the fort and our settlement in the Valley,” Heintzelman said.
A state-owned model had previously been at the Hunter House from the 1940s to the 1980s, but it was left to deteriorate and was removed.
“It’s sadly missed,” Heintzelman said.
The historical society used money from its reserve fund to cover the expenses of the model, and is hoping to raise $125,000 through its “Get Fort-ified” campaign to cover that amount. Through the help of donations and a matching grant from the Degenstein Foundation, the society has already raised $80,000.
Profits from sales of Fort Augusta merchandise at the Hunter House go toward that amount as do community donations. “Everything from $1 to $1,000 is appreciated and will go toward our program,” Heintzelman said.
The society has received checks from local groups as well as residents and former residents. A donor who now lives in California and remembered the original model sent $100 after hearing of the project.
“It’s really grass-roots, and we’re proud of that,” Heintzelman said.
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