Free Campfires & Candlelight Event Recreates a Night in 1845

Inside Fort Vancouver at twilight, groups of people walk along paths

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News Release Date: August 22, 2017

Contact: Robert Gutierrez, Park Ranger, (360) 816-6247

Contact: Meagan Huff, Assistant Curator, (360) 816-6255

On September 9, 2017, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will host Campfires & Candlelight, the national park's largest living history event of the year. Campfires & Candlelight features costumed reenactors who will recreate several time periods in Southwest Washington's history.

Beginning at 4 pm, the event's Timeline of History will extend from East 5th Street to the fort gates. The experience will begin with a large World War II encampment, hosted by reenactors from Living History Group NorthWest. As visitors make their way towards the reconstructed Fort Vancouver, they will walk back in time. Other encampments will highlight the site's history of World War I, Buffalo Soldiers, the Oregon Trail, and the Hudson's Bay Company employee Village, a diverse community that was located near Fort Vancouver in the 1830s and 40s. Visitors to the Timeline of History can also enjoy period music provided by the Vancouver Community Concert Band.

At 5 pm, the gates of Fort Vancouver will open. Inside the fort, visitors will be transported 172 years back in time, to the night of September 9, 1845. Illuminated by candlelight, costumed volunteers will recreate a typical night at Fort Vancouver, and will discuss the most important topic of the day: the international dispute between Great Britain and the United States over their claims to the Pacific Northwest.

In late August and early September of 1845, Fort Vancouver - the center of British fur trading operations in the Pacific Northwest - was bearing the brunt of growing tensions between American settlers and British fur traders and merchants in the region. In late August, two undercover British Army lieutenants, Henry Warre and Mervin Vavasour, arrived at the fort on a secret mission to evaluate the area for possible future military action. In early September, just as Fort Vancouver's Chief Factors were entering into a partnership with the newly-formed American government of Oregon to help alleviate tensions between the British and American settlers, the Royal Navy frigate HMS America arrived at Port Discovery, Washington. Lieutenant William Peel, son of the British Prime Minister, had traveled to the Northwest aboard the ship, and arrived at Fort Vancouver on September 8, 1845. The presence of a military ship in the Northwest, and the secret mission of Warre and Vavasour, were part of a two-pronged effort by the British to determine the feasibility of war against the United States.

"Campfires & Candlelight is always one of the year's most special events at this national park," said Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Chief of Interpretation Bob Cromwell. "By bringing this moment in Northwest history to life, we are hoping to remind visitors of a critical time when the international boundary was not yet settled. Campfires & Candlelight is a unique community tradition, and a wonderful, immersive way to learn about our local history."

What: Campfires & Candlelight at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

When: Saturday, September 9, 2017. Timeline of History opens at 4 pm. The reconstructed Fort Vancouver opens at 5 pm. The event ends at 10 pm.

Where: The reconstructed fort at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 1001 East 5th Street, Vancouver, WA 98661

Cost: Free

Please note: This event offers a special way to experience the park: at night, with the historic ambiance of candlelight and campfires. We ask that visitors please be considerate of others and refrain from using smartphone flashlight applications while attending the event.



Last updated: September 8, 2017

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