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Reenactors plan to build raft to recreate Bucktails' historic journey

March 28, 2011

Pictured are reenactors traveling down the Susquehanna River five years ago as they reenact the original trip taken by the Bucktail Regiment as they traveled to fight in the Civil War in April of 1861. The group will be constructing a raft on Saturday in Driftwood in preparation for a reenactment of the journey at the end of April to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the event. Photo submitted.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War, and in honor of the occasion Bucktail Regiment reenactors plan to construct a lumber raft
in Driftwood on Saturday which will be similar to those built by the original Bucktails as they made their way to Harrisburg in April 1861.
The planned construction coincides with the 37th annual Cameron County Canoe and Kayak Classic, which this year will be honoring the 150th anniversary of the Bucktail's journey. This event will begin across from the entrance to the Emporium Country Club along SR 120. The finish line for the 12-mile course will be located at the bridge in Driftwood, which is also near where the reenactors will be located.
In addition to working on the construction of the raft, reenactors will also be providing attendees with a "living history" lesson, as they will be in period dress and use only tools that would have been utilized by the original Bucktails. The website for the race, www,canoeclassic.org, states that [the reenactors] "will be onsite to provide an opportunity for people to interact and share a part of our history. Everyone is encouraged to bring their families and visit the reenactors at the finish line, in the playground in Driftwood."
Chuck Copello, one of the reenactors, explained that the group wanted to let the public know about the raft construction in case individuals were interested in coming down and seeing what was happening.
The raft will be constructed in dimensions similar to those originally built by the Bucktails; however, while the original Bucktails made four rafts, the reenactors will only make one. According to Copello, the raft will measure 16 feet wide by 65 feet long and will contain a 32-foot sweep that will be used to steer when the group makes its trip downriver later this month.
The Bucktail reenactors completed a similar project five years ago in honor of the 145th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. Copello noted that, last time, it did not take the group long to construct the raft.
"We did it last time in a day and a half. We had lots of help and decent weather," he said.
Copello indicated that between 25 to 30 reenactors are involved with the project. While some hail from McKean, Elk and Cameron counties, the areas that made up the original Bucktail Regiment, the individuals participating in the reenactment come from outside of those areas as well.

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