Camp Floyd Manager Mark Trotter Retires
by Charlynn Anderson
Outfitted in his striking blue Civil War-era Union Army uniform, Mark Trotter became the face of Camp Floyd State Park during his nearly eighteen years as Park Manager. His photo is still featured on the Camp Floyd section of the Utah State Parks website. Trotter retired on April 1, 2018, taking with him a multitude of memories and leaving a legacy of educational programs and activities that share the unique history of Camp Floyd.
Trotter began managing Camp Floyd in Fairfield, Utah, in 2000 after working for twelve years at several other state parks including Palisade, Fillmore Territorial State House, Kodachrome Basin, and Iron Mission. He and his wife, Sherry, and their five children moved to nearby White Hills (now a subdivision of Eagle Mountain) in 2001.
Trotter's first challenge was to keep the park open. In an effort to cut expenditures, the State Legislature had designated Camp Floyd as one of five under-performing state parks slated for closure. Although three of the five parks were later closed, Trotter's educational outreach efforts invigorated Camp Floyd into a popular school and family destination and succeeded in keeping it not only open but thriving.
"I had only been there a couple of weeks when I realized the task before me," Trotter said in an interview at his home on May 15, 2018. In 2000, the park brought in only $2,700 in revenue. As a new park manager, Trotter sought out ideas from history parks around the country and people who loved Camp Floyd. He is quick to acknowledge the contributions of many individuals who volunteered time and effort to save the park.
"It was people contributing that turned it around. I was surprised by the number of people who came forward with ideas," Trotter said.
The new programs instituted by Trotter were geared towards bringing school-aged children to the park. He reasoned that the fourth and fifth-grade Utah History and U.S. History curriculums could be enriched by hands-on history experiences at the park. In 2002, schoolchildren began to visit Camp Floyd by the busload. "When we started with the school field trips, we were practically begging them to come," Trotter remembered. "Before I left, we were completely booked."
In 2017 alone, 65 schools participated in field trips to Camp Floyd, letting approximately 6,500 fourth and fifth-graders march and drill like the Johnston's Army soldiers who were once stationed at Camp Floyd. Children get to experience lessons in a one-room schoolhouse, play with toys from the 1850's, fashion adobe bricks, make candles and hand-roll cartridges as well as tour the historic sites at Camp Floyd State Park.
Besides school field trips, Trotter implemented summer history day-camps for kids ages 8-11, Boy Scout Adventure overnight camps, the Ladies of Camp Floyd for girls and their moms, Paranormal Investigations for ghost-hunters at Halloween, and geocaching for treasure hunters. During 2017, Camp Floyd hosted five history day-camps, ten Boy Scout camps, Camp Floyd Days history re-enactments on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, and welcomed approximately 18,000 visitors to the park. The added interest and activity also increased the park's yearly revenue to approximately $62,000 in 2017. Park workers have increased from only Trotter and one part-time employee in 2000 to now two full-time and three part-time employees. Volunteers from local towns, the Friends of Camp Floyd and the Utah Civil War Association re-enactors pitch in to bring history to life for Camp Floyd Days.
"It has definitely grown," Trotter said.
Camp Floyd Park Ranger Aide, Jeri Hansen, credits Trotter with developing Camp Floyd State Park into a premier historic site. "He got school groups coming and organized history camps. Most of the programs we've got now were geared-up by him," Hansen said.
Trotter recalls his favorite memories of Camp Floyd came from working with the kids. He remembers the first school field trip as a "lightbulb moment" when he saw the kids connecting with history in a hands-on way. "That's the part they will remember because they were doing it," Trotter said.
Trotter hasn't lost his enthusiasm for history just because he retired. His current project is hand-sewing his own Civil War uniform, this time a Confederate sergeant's uniform. While going through old military records, he found that he had ancestors who fought in the Civil War on the Confederate side. He joined the Sons of Confederate Veterans history group and looks forward to portraying a Confederate officer in future history celebrations.
Trotter also looks forward to the completion of the new visitor's center at Camp Floyd under new Park Manager Clay Shelley. The updated visitor's center is about half-way completed and is a collaboration between the State of Utah, Utah County, Town of Fairfield and Friends of Camp Floyd. The visitors center will further illuminate the unique history of Camp Floyd where the U.S. Army, Mormon Pioneers, the Overland Stagecoach and the Pony Express all played a part.
"I can see it still growing," Trotter said.
For more information on Camp Floyd State Park, go to www.campfloyd.utah.gov.
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