Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

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Ft. Vancouver National Historic Site➤

Hudson’s Bay Company established Fort Vancouver in 1825 as the headquarters of the company’s fur trade. The British company controlled the fur business from Alaska to Southern California, and out to the Rocky Mountains. Vancouver, in what is now Washington state, sat across the Columbia River from Portland Oregon. It was the main colonial settlement in the Pacific Northwest. Fort Vancouver was the center of trade for the region and for settlers traveling the Oregon Trail west from Missouri. It was the last stop for supplies before setting up their homestead.


In 1846, the Oregon Treaty set the Canadian-US border at the 49th parallel, putting Fort Vancouver within American territory. In 1866, the fort burned to the ground. The park reconstructed the buildings on the footprint of the original fort.


We lucked out and got to the Fort an hour before they closed. We hopped on a ranger-led tour…and it was free for the National Park Service’s Centennial Celebration. We’d toured the Mcloughlin House in Oregon City prior to the fort, so we’d already absorbed the historical context for what this fort was about, otherwise we would have needed more time here.


The ranger took us inside some of the buildings that wouldn’t normally be open. The tour began at the Chief Factor’s House, the residence for the fort’s high-ranking officers. This building was designed to impress. The officers entertained important people and clients in the large dining room and parlor.


In the mercantile was a man dressed in period costume talking about the beaver fur trade. Trappers would come here to trade pelts for household supplies.


There is a lovely garden at the entrance where we paused for some photos as we were leaving. Historically the garden covered five acres and was designed to be aesthetically pleasing as well as provide fruits and vegetables for the fort. The Hudson Bay Company shared seeds, cuttings and agricultural knowledge with local settlers and Native Americans.

The carpenter and blacksmith closed their shops as it was a scorching hot day. So we peered in the windows and then moved on.

Location: 612 E Reserve St, Vancouver, WA 98661
Designation: National Historic Site
Date designated/established: June 30, 1961
Date of my visit: August 19, 2016