At work with Alison: Prickett's Fort

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MARION COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV) - Pricketts Fort State Park in Marion County was originally built as protection for settlers in 1774. In 1976, the Fort was reconstructed and now exists as a living history museum where men and women do third-person historical portrayals.

One of those living historians, Katie Donnelly, was practically born at Prickett's Fort.

"My mom worked here whenever she was a young woman and she worked here the day before I was born. But when I was a little girl she would bring me here and dress me up."

As a young girl, Donnelly developed a love for history and knew that she would continue her mom's career of bringing history to life.

"Then I started volunteering when I was 16 and I've been here off and on ever since," she said.

The historical portrayals aren't just an act. The men and women do many daily jobs in the style of the time, from making soap and baskets to weaving, to blacksmithing, to gardening. In fact, they hand-craft many of the items sold in the gift shop.

"I do some of the spinning, I also work on the tape or ribbon loom, I do a lot of work with the herbs in the herb gardens," Donnelly said.

The living history museum makes historical events tangible in a way that textbooks can't.

"Opening a book yeah you learn names and dates, but there's something so different about actually seeing somebody doing the work that they would have been doing back then."

For Donnelly, the most rewarding part of the job is...

"Whenever we get those visitors that come in here and they're super interested and ask a lot of questions, and they go away at the end of the day having learned so much, that's what makes my job worth it."

Prickett's Fort Memorial Foundation is working to raise $500,000 for upgrades to the park, including adding accessories for bikes and kayaks. To donate, or to learn more about summer programs, visit https://www.prickettsfort.org/.