Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
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News Releases
Three Events Celebrate the Holidays and Northwest History on December 9 - 11/21/17

The National Park Service is pleased to announce three events for Saturday, December 9: Christmas at Fort Vancouver, a Celebration of Birds, and the opening of a new exhibit at the Visitor Center.

This season's Christmas at Fort Vancouver event will take place on Saturday, December 9, 2017 from 10 am to 3 pm. At the reconstructed Fort Vancouver, costumed volunteers will portray the sights and sounds of an 1840s fur trade Christmas and New Year's Day. This holiday was one of the few times a year that the Hudson's Bay Company granted leave to all employees. Many spent this respite outdoors hunting or fishing, and all would celebrate together by dining and dancing in the fort. Learn more about the history of the holidays at Fort Vancouver at https://www.nps.gov/articles/holidaysatfova.htm

Visitors will hear caroling by the Madrigal Singers as they enjoy free, warm holiday wassail, games, music, demonstrations, and dancing. There will be several ongoing Victorian-era craft activities, with the park providing materials for visitors to make wooden toy tops, wreaths, and potpourri ornaments. Regular entrance fees to the fort will apply (see below).

"This holiday event continues to increase in popularity. Families often share with us that making Victorian crafts here has become a holiday tradition," said the national park's superintendent, Tracy Fortmann.

"You would be hard pressed to find a more personal holiday gift than something that has been made by hand," added Park Ranger Bobby Gutierrez.

During the same time frame, two free events will be held at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center. From 10 am to 3 pm, celebrate our feathered friends! A Celebration of Birds will feature special activities for children, including building a wooden bird house (limited quantities, supplied by The Home Depot) and making a pinecone bird feeder. Visitors may enjoy a cup of hot cider and shop for unique holiday gifts at the Friends of Fort Vancouver Gift Shop as well.

At 2 pm, The River People exhibit featuring work by guest artist Pat Courtney Gold will open at the Visitor Center. Pat is a renowned American Indian artist of the Wasco Nation who has been instrumental in reviving traditional arts, and specializes in baskets, sally bags, woven wall hangings, and quilts. Her work is in collections at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Peabody Museum, the Burke Museum, the Portland Art Museum, the British Museum, and the Royal British Columbia Museum. More than a dozen of her pieces will be on display at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site through the spring of 2018. The opening of the exhibit will include a talk by the artist, as well as a short documentary film highlighting her work.

Christmas at Fort Vancouver Schedule of Events

The activities listed below will take place at the reconstructed Fort (1001 East Fifth Street, Vancouver, WA)

10 am: 19th Century Weapons Demonstration

10 am - 3 pm: Ongoing hands-on activities (while supplies last):

-Build your own toy top
-Taste apple wassail
-Craft your own holiday wreath
-Make your own Victorian handcraft
-Gather 'round for a winter story
-Play games of the 1840s
-Pose for a holiday photo with costumed reenactors
-Visit the Historic Kitchen and watch a cooking demonstration
-Visit the Blacksmith Shop and talk with volunteers demonstrating the lost art of blacksmithing

11 am - 12 pm: Christmas caroling by the Madrigal Singers

12 pm: 19th Century Weapons Demonstration

1 pm - 3 pm: Learn a holiday jig and sing along to carols! Participatory music and dancing in the Counting House

2 pm: 19th Century Weapons Demonstration


Cost: Admission to Christmas at Fort Vancouver at the reconstructed fort site is $5 per adult. Individuals age 15 years and younger, visitors with one of the America the Beautiful Interagency Passes, or visitors with an Every Kid in the Park pass are free. Events at the Visitor Center are free.

When: Saturday, December 9, 2017. 10 AM - 3 PM

Where: Reconstructed Fort at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (1001 East Fifth Street, Vancouver, WA), Visitor Center & Bookstore (1501 East Evergreen Boulevard, Vancouver, WA).

Preservation in Progress: Five Historic Barracks Buildings Get New Paint at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site - 11/15/17

The National Park Service continues to maintain and preserve multiple buildings at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, your urban national park. In the last few years, twenty-six buildings have been painted--buildings painted have included those in the East and South Vancouver Barracks, the reconstructed fur trade post, Pearson Air Museum Complex, the Visitor Center Complex, and the Barclay House in Oregon City, Oregon. The National Park Service is now funding the repainting of five buildings in the East Vancouver Barracks, including the Quartermaster Warehouse, Motor Repair Shop, and Post Exchange Restaurant.

"This national park had an annual visitation of over 1 million people last year, and we are anticipating further growth in our visitation this year. We serve as a national gateway to the Pacific Northwest and certainly are a key location that visitors choose to spend time. We feel very fortunate to have successfully competed, within the National Park Service, for this critical funding, which enables us to move the East and South Vancouver Barracks Rehabilitation Project forward," said Superintendent Tracy Fortmann. She further noted, "We have accomplished so much since the transfer of the East and South Vancouver Barracks to the National Park System as part of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. This latest project is another important, highly visible milestone for us."

Facility Manager Alex Patterson added, "It's important to note that 100% of the work in this project is on historic buildings which have original wood siding and windows dating back to 1905. This is more than just a paint project--we will be addressing lead paint abatement, selective siding replacement , and other necessary treatment to these significant structures. Ultimately, this project is about preserving our heritage." The total cost of the contract is $485,820.

During this project, the immediate work areas including adjacent roadways will be closed off to allow the painting contractor a safe and secure work area, however, the grounds and all of the buildings which have a public access will remain open for visitors to enjoy. The national park has contracted to WM Welch from Post Falls, Idaho, and local NW Pro Paint, from Vancouver, Washington. The contract is expected to last approximatively six months, given the potential for inclement weather.

Historic Lantern Slide Program Illuminates Oregon's Agricultural History on November 8 - 10/30/17

Join the Oregon Historical Society and the National Park Service for a unique look at our past: a pictorial history of food in Oregon from 1850-1940, with an emphasis on the agricultural bounty that makes it one of the best places to eat in the world!

"We are very pleased to partner with the Oregon Historical Society and host this presentation. So many of our visitors are fascinated with Fort Vancouver's own agricultural history -- the expansive farms, orchard, and formal gardens -- and we look forward to this opportunity for everyone to learn more about the region's food history," said Tracy Fortmann, Superintendent at Fort Vancouver.

Culinary historian Heather Arndt Anderson (author of Portland: A Food Biography) and Oregon Historical Society archivist Matthew Cowan will present a collection of historic glass lantern slides -- hand colored and projected using an original 1930s projector - depicting Oregon's cornucopia and the stories behind them.

The lantern slide had its origins in 17th century optical devices, which came to be known as "magic lanterns." The earliest slides were hand-painted images on glass. By 1850, slides were beginning to be reproduced from negatives and sold commercially, mostly black and white images that were then hand-colored. Do-it-yourself kits were also sold, and amateur photographers, museum, and universities often created their own lantern slides for entertainment or education. Photographic type lantern slides reached the peak of their popularity in the first third of the 20th century. The Oregon Historical Society curates a large collection of lantern slides, documenting many aspects of the early history of the state.

"There is a beauty and depth to hand-colored lantern slides," says Curator Theresa Langford. "This is a unique opportunity for the public to see original glass slides projected on historic equipment, as Heather and Matthew chronicle the history around the images."


What: A Land of Milk and Honey: An Illuminated Guide to Oregon's Bounty, presented by the Oregon Historical Society

Where: Fort Vancouver Visitor Center, 1501 East Evergreen Blvd, Vancouver, WA 98661

When: Wednesday, November 8, 2017, at 7 pm

Cost: Free