• 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

Free Signature Event Campfires and Candlelight Features More Military Camps, Music, and Demonstrations on September 8 to Honor the National Park Service’s Acquisition of the East and South Vancouver Barracks

A youth volunteer plays dominoes in the Oregon Trail Camp.
A youth volunteer plays dominoes in the Oregon Trail Camp.
NPS

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News Release Date: August 25, 2012
Contact: Cassie Anderson, (360) 816-6247

VANCOUVER, WA - On September 8, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site's free annual Campfires and Candlelight event continues signature re-enactments inside the fort while expanding military camps in the Timeline of History (along the Spruce Mill Trail) with new camps, more music, and more black powder demonstrations!


Campfires and Candlelight is Fort Vancouver's largest costumed re-enactment, only possible with the help of more than 150 costumed interpreters from the park's volunteer team, the park's youth volunteer team, and multiple community partners. This year, the event includes signature components like cannon firings, Oregon Trail families, and blacksmiths, bakers, and carpenters hard at work, in addition to an extensive Timeline of History to showcase military history at Vancouver Barracks over time.


Earlier this year, the National Park Service acquired the 33 buildings of the East and South Vancouver Barracks in a monumental transfer from the Department of Defense to the Department of the Interior. That makes 2012's Campfires and Candlelight the perfect time to emphasize the military's rich, complicated history at this national park. On the Timeline of History this year, expect military music from multiple eras, Army laundresses representing working class women in the military, vintage vehicles from WWII, and an abundance of historic weapons demonstrations to represent military stories at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Come to the event to smell the spruce of the Spruce Production Division WWI camp, scrub rags against a washboard like an Army laundress, tap rudiments on a snare drum post-Civil War, cover your ears at the boom of a cannon, play shadow puppets against the lantern-lit canvas of an Oregon Trail wagon, and spark a fire with flint and steel in the Fort Vancouver Village camp!

 

Campfires and Candlelight begins at Pearson Air Museum, which focuses on pre-World War II aircraft and features a dramatic lighting scheme to complement the candlelight ambience at the fort.

 

In the field between air museum and the fort, visitors stroll back in time along the park's Spruce Mill Trail, experiencing an evening of U.S. Army camps from multiple eras, Oregon Trail immigrants, and the residents of Fort Vancouver's Village. During dusk hours, teamsters kick up dust with a plowing demonstration of the horses and technology used by Hudson's Bay Company farmers and American immigrants in the 1840s.

 

Once inside the fort, time travel to September 13, 1846, a night the fort buzzed with activity as the Hudson's Bay Company organized a relief effort for the wreck of the American naval vessel the USS Shark at the mouth of the Columbia River. The crew was saved, but the ship was lost; see what various workers at Fort Vancouver do to help the Shark's officers and crew.

 

Schedule of events:

4:00 p.m.  Pearson Air Museum opens

Plowing demonstration begins

Timeline of History opens: U.S. Army camps at the Vancouver Barracks: drills, laundry, black powder demonstrations and more throughout the evening
• 1940s - Vancouver Barracks Memorial Association presents Vintage Vehicles
• 1940s - World War II: Fox Company
• 1940s - World War II: Aide de Camp
• 1917 - World War I: Spruce Production Division
• 1890s - Army Laundresses
• 1870s - Indian War Period
• 1860s - 1st Oregon Volunteer Infantry
• 1849 - Oregon Trail Families
• 1846 - The Company Village camp

5:00 p.m.     Mountain Howitzer (cannon) firing, Indian Wars Camp

Fort Opens: interact with characters from the fort's past as if it's September 13, 1846, a night the fort buzzed with activity as the Hudson's Bay Company organized a relief effort for the wreck of the American naval vessel the USS Shark at the mouth of the Columbia River                          

6:00 p.m.     Small arms demonstration, 1st Oregon Volunteer Infantry Camp

7:00 pm.      Mountain Howitzer (cannon) firing, Indian Wars Camp

Dinner served inside the fort at the Douglas Quarters, Barclay Quarters, and Counting House

8:00 p.m.   Small arms demonstration, 1st Oregon Volunteer Infantry Camp

9:00 p.m.     Mountain Howitzer (cannon) firing, Indian Wars Camp

10:00 p.m.   Last entry to the Timeline of History

 

WHERE: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 1001 East 5th Street. Carpooling is encouraged; parking is limited. Event parking can be found at the gravel lot immediately north of the fort's garden, on 5th street, at the Visitor Center parking lot located at 1501 East Evergreen Blvd, and available parking areas within the Reserve. Handicap parking is available at the gravel lot immediately north of the fort's garden.

WHEN: Saturday, September 8, 2012. Pearson Air Museum and the Timeline of History open at 4:00 p.m. The reconstructed fort opens at 5:00 p.m. All event areas close at 10:00 p.m.

COSTS: Free. Pearson Air Museum and the reconstructed fort usually charge entrance fees - but not September 8, 2012!

IMPORTANT: The fort hours of operation will be 4:00 p.m. -10:00 p.m. for the event on Saturday, September 8 (the reconstructed fort is not open for its regular 9:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m. hours on September 8).

BACKGROUND: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is one of the 397 national parks which make up the National Park System and it is located in both Washington and Oregon. This national park is also the heart of the Vancouver National Historic Reserve which is located in Vancouver, Washington. The Vancouver National Historic Reserve brings together a national park, a premier archaeological site, the region's first military post, an international fur trade emporium, one of the oldest operating airfields, the first national historic site west of the Mississippi River, and a waterfront trail and environmental center on the banks of the Columbia River. The partners of the Reserve teach visitors about the fur trade, early military life, natural history, and pioneers in aviation, all within the context of Vancouver's role in regional and national development. The Reserve's vast array of public programs -- including living history events, festivals, cultural demonstrations, exhibits, active archaeology, and other special activities - serve communities in Washington and Oregon and create a dynamic, fun, and unique tourist destination for people of all ages.

-NPS-

Did You Know?

Image of a student presenting a public program with the Public History Field School

Did you know that Fort Vancouver National Historic Site hosts an annual Public History Field School, where graduate-level history students can gain practical field experience in historical interpretation? More...