The face of the Fort remains
By Michael Johnson, Editor
Gary Anderson grew up in the wrong era. Those that knew him well, knew that Gary didn’t just show up to work at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and Fort Mandan to talk about history with those willing to hear. Gary wanted to live that life. That’s why, when he took the job as seasonal interpreter at Fort Mandan, he stayed in a canvas tent in the park for a year, experiencing the life much like those travelers would have some 200 years ago. His style and passions shaped him into a lasting image of the history still told at the site. For about 15 years, Gary was the face of Fort Mandan. He wore the traditional clothes of a fur trader most every day. On a hot July day and on a cold January morning, because those were the clothes he wanted to wear. The linen, the wool and his thick warm beard are all images that thousands of visitors came to know and look for. “A couple would drive up from New Jersey to see this place, they’d see Gary standing there in period clothes,” interpretive resource manager Kevin Kirkey said. “That was inviting.” But Gary’s appreciation for the past went well beyond clothing, which he and his wife Sharon made themselves. He was a collector of books, paraphernalia used in the expedition, stamps that commemorated the first date of release of the Lewis & Clark anniversary design, from all the stops along the journey.