• Image of the reconstructed stockade at Fort Vancouver and Pearson Air Museum looking northeast from the Land Bridge.

    Fort Vancouver

    National Historic Site OR,WA

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  • Vistor Center Temporarily Relocates to Pearson Air Museum on Sep 15, 2014

    The Visitor Center operation will temporarily relocate to Pearson Air Museum, beginning on Monday, September 15, 2014, while the visitor center is rehabilitated. More »

  • The McLoughlin House Site Will Close at 2:00 pm This Saturday, October 18, 2014.

    The McLoughlin House unit of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will close early this coming Saturday, October 18, to prepare for a community partnership event. The McLoughlin House will be open from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm this Saturday.

Social Activities at Vancouver Barracks - Dancing

Army dress coat (blue) circa. 1900

Dances presented an often structured, controlled opportunity for soldiers and area women to dress more formally and socialize. Soldiers would have worn more formal attire, such as this dress coat from the early twentieth century.

NPS Photo

by Josh Olmsted

“Here I am still at Vancouver and having such a wonderful time that I don’t want to go home… Last Wednesday night we had a ‘hop’ here and I enjoyed it very much, it was the first dance since we left home” -Julia Gilliss, Vancouver Barracks, July 22nd 1866.

For Mrs. Gilliss and many other women, men, and children; dancing was prominent amongst the social activities of the post. Dancing was a way of making acquaintances, meeting new people, and maybe finding a future husband or wife! Both men and women would put on their finest dresses, suits, or uniforms. Often Vancouver Barracks would provide the music and people for both the military post and the City of Vancouver would attend the festivities.

People would come from all over the Vancouver, and later Portland, area to attend these “hops” providing an escape from the routine of military drilling, and for nearby residents working their fields or tending their shops. The dances became a means of building positive relations between the Vancouver Barracks and Vancouver the city, with this relationship between the two continuing to this day.

Women from Vancouver occasionally began relationships with officers and solders from Vancouver Barracks. These newly created couples would often settle in the region, creating a new city surrounding the military post. Some of the homes and businesses surrounding Fort Vancouver and Vancouver Barracks are products of these very same relationships.

Did You Know?

A park Guide presents a program at the Brigade Encampment special event

Did you know that Fort Vancouver National Historic Site hosts a number of special events each year that feature costumed interpretation and living history, including the Brigade Encampment, Soldiers' Bivouac, and Candlelight Tour? More...