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PHOTOS: Camp Floyd reenactors show off what it was like when the US Army occupied Utah

Camp Floyd State Park, Jake Beckstrand
Ivana Martinez
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KUER
Jake Beckstrand sits on the wooden horse, showing off his guns.

Camp Floyd was established in 1858 after the U.S. Army arrived in Utah to suppress what was then thought to be a Mormon rebellion. No traditional battle ever occurred though as negotiations carried the day. The camp's founding was a prime example of the tensions that existed at the time between the Latter-Day Saint faith, the direction of the Utah Territory and the growing authority of the federal government. A few times a year, reenactors gather at what’s now a state park in the town of Fairfield, west of Utah Lake, to show what it was like when the army occupied the land.

Park Manager Clay Shelley said about 3,500 soldiers were living at the camp during the occupation. The camp was named for the then secretary of war, John B. Floyd, and commanded by Col. Albert S. Johnston. Troops remained for three years until the closure of the camp at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.

Do the reenactments look like fun? You can check out Camp Floyd Days for yourself over Labor Day weekend.

Camp Floyd State Park, tent
Ivana Martinez
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KUER
Shelley said back then there were no trees, there was just sagebrush and wolves. Most of the time, like the day I visited, it was very wet, very windy and mostly miserable for the soldiers. “One of the officers said spending a day here was like being here for a full entire year. The wind was always blowing,” Shelley said standing in the middle of the field.
Camp Floyd State Park, reenactor Jake Beckstrand
Ivana Martinez
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KUER
Reenactors illustrated what camp life was like when soldiers lived in Camp Floyd. Some have been doing this for years. Jake Beckstrand, one of the actors representing the Utah Territorial Militia, showed off his civilian gun to the crowd as they waited for the men a few feet away to load the cannon.
Camp Floyd State Park, cannon
Ivana Martinez
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KUER
A swooshing sound comes from the cannon as the men clean it and load it up. “I usually go up into Wyoming and shoot it,” the owner of the canyon said. “That's where I get my powder and stuff. But I shoot it as often as I can. I've shot a lot out here in Cedar Valley, out here, a lot with fire-throwing projectiles. But all we're doing now is just making noise.”
Camp Floyd State Park, John Frandsen and daughter
Ivana Martinez
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KUER
John Frandsen, otherwise known as Sergeant Sugarfoot, the army cook, and his daughter clean up after serving breakfast and then prepare for lunch.
Camp Floyd State Park, food station
Ivana Martinez
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KUER
Frandsen’s station is filled with sugar cookies, apples, and pickles. “I've collected this stuff over the years. A lot of my utensils are handcrafted from a blacksmith,” he said, showing me around the kitchenette. “A lot of the soldiers back then didn't know how to cook. It [was] usually a woman's domain. So it was rather unusual. Well, the higher-ups, like the generals and colonels and captains and majors would have their own staff prepare meals for them.
Camp Floyd State Park, life-size lincoln logs
Ivana Martinez
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KUER
A few feet away a visiting family builds a home with the red wooden logs they’ve set up. It’s like a big game of Lincoln Logs.
Camp Floyd State Park, Stagecoach Inn
Ivana Martinez
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KUER
Across the street, remains one of the few buildings from that time period — the Stagecoach Inn. There used to be saloons, brothels, and gambling halls down the main street. But most of that is gone now. The Inn remains as a museum.

Ivana is a general assignment reporter
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