Playground equipment installed at Fort Seward
Colten Marks, 8, raised funds to purchase the equipment.
Colten Marks’ wish to have playground equipment at Fort Seward is now a reality with the recent installation of equipment at the historical site.
While trick-or-treating at Frontier Village in October, Colten, now 8, saw a playset there and thought that Fort Seward should have one too. He said kids at Fort Seward would play on the cannon on display and needed a place to play.
And with that, Colten decided to raise money to purchase equipment by selling Christmas cookies for $20 a tray. Posting flyers at a few businesses and information on social media, the fundraiser took off.
The fundraiser became a family affair, making and delivering not only cookies but kuchen too, said Jen Marks, Colten's mother and director of Fort Seward. Thrivent contributed funds to purchase the ingredients for the cookies.
Colten initially set a goal to raise $1,500. When that was met, it was increased to $3,500. By the end of the fundraiser, $4,700 was raised, Jen said.
“The last two days of the cookie sale the (All) Vets Club was amazing and they donated about $1500 to get us in the last stretch but the rest of it was all cookies, $20 a platter,” Jen said.
Colten told The Sun in December during the fundraiser that he wanted certain things for the playground equipment: a climbing wall, swings, a slide and a trapeze “cause I’m really good with gymnastics,” he said.
He has all of them in the equipment that was purchased, which also features a tire swing and chain ladder. Colten likes the swings and what he called the “pirate” features, a ship’s wheel, binoculars and telescope.
Jen said they will add a baby swing and are looking at getting a handicapped-accessible swing and a border for the playground equipment.
She said she thinks the playground equipment adds to the site, which was once served by soldiers stationed between 1872 and 1877 to protect railroad construction crews.
“I think it will really help with overnight guests,” she said. “... we just wanted something for kids to do.”
She also thinks it’s a plus for Jamestown residents as well. Already, it’s become popular with visitors to the site.
“It’s just another amenity we can give overnight guests but I’m really hoping this will help boost local traffic,” she said. “... I call us the forgotten gem. Not many people know we’re here.”
Fort Seward is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The site offers four glamping units plus RV and primitive camping spots. There is a tent city that includes a hospital tent, school tent and officers tent with hands-on activities. The site also has a 30 by 60-foot American flag, Veterans Memorial Wall and the Fort Seward Interpretive Center, which has all new exhibits including artifacts from the site that came from the State Historical Society, Jen said. There is a gift shop at the interpretive center.