Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
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News Releases
Free Family Fun on National Get Outdoors Day on June 10 at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site - 05/24/17

Experience free outdoor activities and family fun at the ninth annual National Get Outdoors Day on Saturday, June 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver.

Kids and families can enjoy climbing a rock wall, learning how to shoot a bow and arrow, catching a fish from a pond and playing lacrosse, bicycling, and disc golf. Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, Jr. Beaver and their friends will be on hand to greet visitors. A historic fur trader encampment will re-enact life at Fort Vancouver during the 1840s.

National Get Outdoors Day is a national free event that encourages local residents, especially youth, to pursue healthy, active outdoor lifestyles by embracing our parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands and waters. The Gifford Pinchot and Mt. Hood National Forests, Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, City of Vancouver, Parks Foundation of Clark County and many other public, private, and non-profits groups are partnering together to present this local event. Special thanks goes to presenting sponsor The Vancouver Clinic.

"We are appreciative so many agencies, businesses, partners and friends have come together to embrace getting outside for healthy family fun," said Gina Owens, Forest Supervisor for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. "In addition to enjoying all the fun activities, participants will have opportunities to learn about recreation and stewardship of our public lands."

At Get Outdoors Day, visitors can also explore the annual Brigade Encampment, which re-enacts the return of Hudson's Bay Company fur brigades to Fort Vancouver. Costumed re-enactors will demonstrate cooking, crafts, games, dances, and music of the 1840s. Hands-on activities and black powder demonstrations of replica 1840s weaponry will also take place.

"The Brigade Encampment allows visitors to get a glimpse into what life was like in the Pacific Northwest in the 1800s. Volunteers at the Encampment will demonstrate the many outdoor skills that fur traders and their families needed to have in order to survive in the wilderness," said Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Superintendent Tracy Fortmann. "Of course, today we see many of these skills as recreational activities. This event serves as a great reminder of how much life in Southwest Washington has changed!"

For additional information about Get Outdoors Day visit:

CORRECTION: Col. John Sweeney will not be speaking at the 2017 Memorial Day Observance - 05/17/17

The press release regarding the Memorial Day Observance at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site sent earlier today incorrectly listed Col. John Sweeney among the event's speakers. This year's speakers at the event will include keynote speaker Colonel Duke A. Pirak, the commander of the 142nd Fighter Wing, Oregon Air National Guard, Portland, Superintendent Fortmann, Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, Board of Clark County Councilors Council Chair Marc Boldt, and U.S. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler.

The updated press release can be read at

Memorial Day Observance at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Honors Vancouver's Military on May 29 - 05/17/17

The Community Military Appreciation Committee (CMAC) will present Vancouver's Memorial Day Observance Monday, May 29, 2017, at 11 am, at the Bandstand on the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Parade Ground. CMAC has organized this event with help from its partners: the City of Vancouver, National Park Service (NPS), Fort Vancouver National Trust, Armed Forces Reserve Center, Waste Connections, and 40 et 8.

The event features keynote speaker Colonel Duke A. Pirak, the commander of the 142nd Fighter Wing, Oregon Air National Guard, Portland.

The ceremony is also scheduled to include the dedication of the 80-foot reconstructed garrison flagstaff on the Vancouver Barracks Parade Ground, which is located in the national park. The flagstaff will be dedicated to honor American servicemen and women from Clark County who have given their lives in service of their country. This National Park Service project has been two years in the making, requiring historical research and archaeological testing and excavation to determine the historic location of the flagstaff prior to installation. This project was made possible through a number of community partners who worked with the NPS, including the Fort Vancouver Lions, the Vancouver Metro Sunset Rotary Club, CMAC, the Friends of Fort Vancouver, and the City of Vancouver.

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Superintendent Tracy Fortmann said, "The National Park Service is proud to bring this iconic, highly visible feature back to Vancouver Barracks, and the flagstaff will surely become an important public and community venue in the national park. We greatly appreciate the support of our partners who chose to step forward to help us make the flagstaff a reality." Fortmann added, "I am honored to serve our community in recreating this critical element of our past. The restored flagstaff will undoubtedly assist us in better understanding and connecting with our 19th and 20th century military history, which helped shape our city, region, and nation."

As of now, it is anticipated that the ceremony will also include the raising of a garrison flag as part of the dedication. As NPS Facility Manager Alex Patterson shared, "The maintenance crew at the national park is responsible for maintaining a wide variety of historic structures and, sometimes, reconstructing unique and historically accurate buildings and features. This project was a complex one in that we had to pull together soil engineers, engineers from the flag pole manufacturer, and a variety of local trades to get this work completed within a tight time frame. Barring any unforeseen difficulties with shipping, the flagstaff will be installed and operational by the Memorial Day event."

Retired Army Colonel Larry J. Smith will be the Master of Ceremonies. Speakers at the event will include Superintendent Fortmann, US Army Colonel John Sweeney, Commander of the 2nd Brigade, 95th Division, located at the Armed Forces Reserve Center, Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, Board of Clark County Councilors Council Chair Marc Boldt, and U.S. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler. Vancouver Police Officer Rey Reynolds will sing the National Anthem. There will be a dove release and color guards, as well as military medleys played by the 204th Army Band. Complimentary hot dogs and light lunch items will be available to the public, courtesy of the Vancouver Lions, Red Cross Cascades Region, and the Military Officers Association of America.

C-Tran busses #25, 32, and 37 will provide transportation directly to the Bandstand that day. Parking is available at Hudson's Bay High School, where attendees may ride a C-Tran shuttle to and from the event site.

There will be a National Park Service Soldiers' Bivouac re-enactment on the Parade Ground after the ceremony until 3 pm. This re-enactment will showcase costumed volunteers portraying many periods in the site's military history. Additionally, the Vancouver Barracks Military Association will display antique military vehicles.

CMAC is an all-inclusive group composed of members representing youth, education, civic, military, veterans groups, and local governments. CMAC executes and plans community-wide events, such as Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Our Community Salutes, and POW/MIA Day ceremonies, as well as recognition and support of military families of all services. Learn more about CMAC at

What: Memorial Day Observance, flagstaff dedication, and Soldiers' Bivouac re-enactment

Where: Vancouver Barracks Parade Ground and Bandstand

When: May 29, 2017, at 11 am

Cost: Free

National Park to Host Annual Children's Culture Parade - 05/09/17

In support of local students and in celebration of the region's historical diversity, the National Park Service, Evergreen School District, and Vancouver School District are proud to present the annual Children's Culture Parade at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site on Friday, May 19, 2017. The Children's Culture Parade begins at 10:15 am just north of Pearson Air Museum (1115 East 5th Street, Vancouver, WA 98661) and continues north on East Reserve Street, turning west on Evergreen Boulevard, and finally turning south to follow the Park Road across East 5th Street into the national park's reconstructed Fort Vancouver (1001 East 5th Street, Vancouver, WA 98661).

The parade will include marching bands from local schools and over 1,500 third and fourth grade students celebrating the community's diversity. "These students have worked hard for months in their classrooms to study cultures from around the globe while rediscovering their family's and their community's cultural heritage," said Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Superintendent Tracy Fortmann.

City of Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, Superintendent Fortmann, and school district leaders will lead the parade through Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, one of 417 units of the National Park System.

Once the students enter the reconstructed fort, National Park Service volunteers will greet visitors wearing 1840s traditional clothing, highlighting Vancouver's diverse past. The entire procession will assemble in the courtyard in front of the reconstructed Chief Factor's House to hear music and brief remarks from the mayor, superintendent, dignitaries, and featured students. Music will be provided by the Vancouver Community Concert Band, under the direction of Erin Hanson. The public is encouraged to join the students, mayor, and other dignitaries at 11 am inside the reconstructed fort. The entry fee will be waived for the event, which is scheduled to conclude at 11:45 am.

"Over 170 years ago, Fort Vancouver stood as the center of cultural diversity in the Pacific Northwest," said Fortmann, "so it is very appropriate that we continue to celebrate our diversity here, in this nationally significant place - our national park. This event best exemplifies how this national park belongs to everyone, and it's a special opportunity for each student to celebrate diversity with family, classmates, and our supportive community."

The community is encouraged to line the parade route and cheer on the parade participants. Ideal viewing areas are along the Park Road or the pathway leading from East 5th Street into the reconstructed fort.

Public parking is available within the park and surrounding areas. Due to road closures on the east entrances to the park to accommodate the parade, it is recommended that visitors enter from the northwest corner of the park on Fort Vancouver Way. Parking is available at designated parking lots on Evergreen Boulevard and on East 5th Street. Additional Parking is also available at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center and at the reconstructed fort's parking lot. However, for parade route safety, both of these parking lots will be closed to incoming and outgoing vehicular traffic from 9 am to 11:40 am.

What: Children's Culture Parade

Where: Parade begins at Pearson Air Museum (1501 E 5th Street), heads north on East Reserve Street, west on Evergreen Boulevard, south on the Park Road, and ends at the reconstructed Fort Vancouver (1001 E 5th Street).

When: Friday, May 19, 10 am - noon

Cost: Free

Monument Scientist Peter Frenzen to Discuss Ecosystem Development and Landscape Change at Mount St. Helens - 05/04/17

On Saturday, May 20, 2017, from 1 pm to 3 pm at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center, U.S. Forest Service Monument Scientist Peter Frenzen will discuss his work at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. This event is presented by the U.S. Forest Service and the Friends of Fort Vancouver, in partnership with Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

The May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens leveled more than 200 square miles of forest and captured the imagination of volcano enthusiasts around the world. This summer, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument will celebrate its 35th year of providing for the preservation and public enjoyment of one of North America's youngest and most dynamic natural landscapes. The area surrounding the volcano has become an important laboratory for the study of volcanic processes and ecosystem response to large-scale disturbance. Frenzen will describe more than three decades of landscape change and lessons learned at one of the world's most studied and accessible volcanoes. Repeat photographs will reveal amazing changes that have taken place in a matter of minutes, over decades, and during the volcano's 2004-2008 dome-building eruption.

Frenzen is responsible for administering research and incorporating research findings into visitor information and education programs. He is a passionate advocate for inquiry-based science education and was part of a team that developed a kit-based hands-on science program for schools that has been implemented across the state of Washington. During his 30-year career at Mount St. Helens, Frenzen has helped create award-winning exhibits, films, and engaging stories for numerous feature stories and science documentaries. He has also assisted with public information at large fires and international efforts to develop parks and protected areas to preserve natural ecosystems, reduce hazards exposure, and promote sustainable tourism in nearby communities.

What: "Mount St. Helens: 37 Years of Ecosystem Development and Landscape Change," delivered by Peter Frenzen, Monument Scientist, U.S. Forest Service, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

When: Saturday, May 20, 2017, 1 pm to 3 pm

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

Cost: Free

Open House to Show Progress on 1912 Curtiss Pusher Replica Project for Pearson Air Museum - 05/04/17

Join us at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site on Saturday, May 13, 2017, from 10 am to 2 pm as we welcome the public to view the construction progress on a 1912 Curtiss Pusher airplane replica at 405 E 5th Street, Vancouver, WA, 98661. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the methods and materials used to recreate this historic aircraft, and talk with National Park Service volunteers and staff about the project.

Over the past year, a skilled crew of National Park Service volunteers have been building a full size replica of Silas Christofferson's 1912 Curtiss Pusher, utilizing copies of original Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company plans, period articles on airplane construction, and photographs of Silas Christofferson's 1912 airplane. Christofferson's Pusher was used on demonstration flights from the Vancouver Barracks Polo Grounds in 1912, and was famously flown off the roof of Portland's Multnomah Hotel in June 1912 to land at Vancouver Barracks. Materials identical to those used in the construction of the original aircraft, such as Sitka spruce, bamboo, steel tubes, and cotton fabric, are being utilized, along with some period construction techniques.

"The Curtiss Pusher was the first mass produced airplane in history, and from 1910 to 1913, was the predominant airplane design around the world," said Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Chief of Interpretation Bob Cromwell. "We are rediscovering century-old techniques used by the earliest aviation pioneers in an effort to recreate as accurate a replica as possible, for permanent exhibit at Pearson Air Museum."

Though the airplane will include an original engine - a Curtiss OX-5 V-8 block - there are no plans to fly the airplane, and it will be a static display.

"We are going to the extent of copying the original Curtiss operating controls, which, instead of rudder pedals, had a swaying seat back that allowed the pilot to lean into a turn, much as a bicyclist does to this day," said Cromwell. "That makes sense, knowing that the designer, Glenn Hammond Curtiss, got his start in the industry as a bicycle and motorcycle mechanic and designer."

What: Open House of 1912 Curtiss Pusher project

Where: 405 E 5th Street, Vancouver, WA 98661. Gate will be open near the northeastern corner of the building. Signs will direct visitors to the parking lot.

When: Saturday, May 13, 2017, 10 am to 2 pm

Cost: Free

New "Bark Ranger" Program at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Highlights the History of Dogs and Safety - 05/03/17

On Saturday, May 20, 2017, at 10 am, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will host a new "Bark Ranger" walking tour program. This ranger-led tour, designed for visitors and their dogs, will discuss the history of dogs at Fort Vancouver and Vancouver Barracks, as well as the overall history of the site. The tour will also highlight how to explore the park safely with pet dogs.

The tour will begin outside of Pearson Air Museum. The shorter first leg of the tour will cover a distance of about a half-mile on a paved trail with little incline, and will discuss the history of dogs during the site's Hudson's Bay Company period. The optional second leg of the tour will cover an additional distance of about three-quarters of a mile with a moderate incline, and will discuss the history of dogs during the U.S. Army period.

"Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is a great place to walk your dog," said Park Ranger Meagan Huff. "And there's also a fascinating history of dogs here -- from pet dogs in the Hudson's Bay Company Village to mascot dogs of Army regiments at Vancouver Barracks. We hope this tour will provide a great opportunity for dogs and their owners to visit the park."

What: "Bark Ranger" walking tour of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

Where: The tour will meet outside of Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E 5th Street, Vancouver, WA 98661

When: Saturday, May 20, 2017, at 10 am

Cost: Free

Participants should bring: Participants are not required to bring their dog, but dogs are welcome on this tour. Dogs on the tour should be friendly other dogs and people, and up-to-date on vaccines. Participants with dogs must bring waste bags, food and water as necessary, and a leash no longer than 6 feet.

In case of inclement weather, this tour may be rescheduled. Please check, or the park's Facebook ( or Twitter pages (@FtVancouverNPS) for updates.

Author James D. Thayer to Discuss Hiking in the Pacific Northwest at Free, Public Event - 05/02/17

On Saturday, May 6, 2017, from 1 pm to 3 pm at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center, author James D. Thayer will discuss his recent book, "Hiking from Portland to the Coast: An Interpretive Guide to 30 Trails." This event is presented by the Friends of Fort Vancouver, in partnership with Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

Thayer is a Portland-based author who is also a faculty member at Portland State University. "Hiking from Portland to the Coast" is an authoritative guide to Pacific Northwest trails narrated with interpretive stories about the intriguing places those hikes lead.

At this free event, Thayer will deliver a presentation on his work, then will sign copies of his book, which will be available for sale in the Friends of Fort Vancouver Bookstore.

What: Presentation and book signing with James D. Thayer, author of "Hiking from Portland to the Coast: An Interpretive Guide to 30 Trails"

When: Saturday, May 6, 2017, 1 pm to 3 pm

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