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Re-Enactors Fire A Salute Following Shirmish

25th Annual River Of Time

History Returns to Bay City's Riverfront

September 27, 2014       Leave a Comment
By: Stephen Kent

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Last weekend the Riverfront was alive with the 25th Annual River of Time. Sponsored by the Bay County Historical Society, the event is run by a dedicated group of volunteers who form the committee and work all year to prepare for the big event.

Friday's are traditionally scheduled as an education day and schools from around the area are invited to bring students. This year saw a record attendance of over 2,200 students. Perfect weather brought out more records crowds on Saturday and Sunday, which are open to the public. The estimates are well over 20,000 people. Reports from workers indicate that visitors came from all over Michigan as well as from other states.

This event is one of the few in the nation that re-enacts more than one time-line. The River of Time is exactly that, with history portrayed from the days of Native Americans through the modern Vietnam era.

Favorite events of the weekend included a fly-by of vintage aircraft. This year there were four aircraft and they flew at least two passes low over the camp. Spectators also experienced the reenactment of a naval battle with the Appledore sailing the river and the shore cannon firing across the river.

Saturday included a civil war musket skirmish in the arboretum, which lasted until the cannon was used to mow down the entire Yankee squad.

Some commented that much of the display deals with war or the military. But war is a driving force in history. Eras in time are generally associated with the great wars and those wars drove development of the country and the early expansions.

River of Time also illustrates life as it was lived. In particular, it shows live on the frontier and life during the great expansions. The Mormon Battalion depicts what it was like to travel the great Mormon trail into the west. People walked, or rode in wagons, and they lived in tents. Kenny Henson and his wife Denny walked much of that trail themselves. He told the story of what they learned and he anticipates publication of a book about their journey.

The River of Time weekend is one of the final festivals of Bay City's summer season. Hells Half Mile Film and Music Festival was the same weekend. The next big thing before the holidays is the Haunted Masonic Temple, which will run each weekend during October. Then it's time for holidays followed by a nice hibernation until the next season starts in the Spring.

River of Time is one of the many free events and programs put on by the Bay County Historical Society, which also operates the Museum next door to City Hall downtown. Other events include Michigan History Day, the Second Saturday lecture series, Freaky Fridays for Youngsters, Tours of City Hall, and outreach programs in area schools and libraries. The Society and Museum house almost a quarter million artifacts of Bay County's history. It is the home of the Bay City Times archive, a major library of Bay County publications and documents and thousands of historic photos.

The Historical Society is 80% funded by a contract with Bay County for Historical Preservation. That contract is paid for by a millage, which is up for renewal in November. That millage is the lowest in the county. It costs the typical homeowner about $5 per year. The millage is also essential for programs like River of Time to continue. Without the County support, the Society can no longer operate.


Representatives from each timeline present their colors in turn and
are honored by pipers playing a patriotic tune from the era.

Young soldiers and public at opening ceremony

Honest Abe is interviewed for Chanel 5 local news.

Hard to take aim when the helment is a little to big!

Decisions - Decisions... what to buy

Conversation on the hilltop

The blacksmith's forge is always popular.

Young member of Fife and Drum Corp practices.

Ron McGillen's bacon just makes mouth water as spectators walk past.

Native American lean-to provides shelter for man and equipment

1st New York Regiment relaxes as piper plays a tune.

Sunlight filters through the canvas of a Native American teepee.

Jim Snellenberger makes all his clothes and implements

Drums rest beside teepee

Camp scene

The weekend saw record crowds walking the event.

The Rev. Rich Gampbell protrays a Naval Chaplain.
Richhas been to every River of Time except one.

Coffee pots hang over the open fire.

Virgil Dry portrays a man from the French and Indian war period. A graphic designer in modern life, Virgil played a Native American at previous events.

Andy Smith hails from the 1700's.

Ona Lee is a Civil War Suttler and Proprietor of her store at River of Time.

the Mormon Battalion built an entire fort on the grounds!

Andrew Millward recruits new volunteers for the Mormon Battalion.

Callyeva Millward washes clothes, a common chore for youngsters of the era.

Fideles Currie was busy making apple pies...

And Apple Pies with that much filling are hard to pass by!

Lynn McDade, Lorie Turner and Dorthy Rushing were cooking for their soldiers.

WWII troops escort German prisoners (toward the Kettle Korn ???)

Rayna Lapouttre and Katrina White were having a great time.
They found their teacher manning the Bay County Historical Society information booth!

A real crowd pleaser, the cannon fires on the Appledore,
which is behind the smoke cloud, sailing down the river with sailors firing back.

Kids pass the time with a game of cards.

Scouts form a combined troop each year and have their own camp.

He's got a tent of his own.

German officer uses a period gas stove for cooking.

The Reb Known as "Charly" is a Wanted Man!
Charlie Middleton is a regular at re-enactments. At his tent he showed off a
tattered Confederate Flag and talked about the various places it had been over the years.

Sunday Morning and a calm river

Pre-heating the oven. The bread dough has risen and was ready to go in.

New this year is the Uptown development across the river.

Sunday Morning and one of the several religious services.

Sunday Morning services were also held at the log cabin.

The Native American camp Sunday Morning.
Sandy Mott holds the &q&talking stick" as she introduces the
newest member of the group, baby Cloe Shukait.

Sunday morning breakfast feast is laid out.

Colorful characters and costumes abound at River of Time. It's a photographer's paradise!

Jean-Guy Yargeau has portrayed "Frenchy" for 40 years. He said thousands of pictures have been taken of him. Some show up on-line and one was even on the cover of a publication.

More food. You just can't leave River of Time and not be hungry!

She was just a little shy as she peeked around from behind Dad.

One of the best expressions seen at the Historic Society's photo board.

We didn't get his name, but he looks like a character from the movie "Paint Your Wagon"



MyBayCity.com has covered the River of Time since 2003.
Take any of these links for prior year coverage:

2017.a, 2017.b, 2017.c,
2015, 2014, 2013,
2012, 2011, 2010, 2009,
2008, 2008, 2008, 2008,
2007, 2007,
2006, 2006,
2005, 2005, 2005,
2004, 2003,


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Stephen Kent

Steve Kent and his family have lived in Bay City for 30 years. He is VP of Technical Services at MMCC which produces MyBayCity.Com. Kent is active in many Bay City civic organizations.

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