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Contact: Facility Manager Alex Patterson, (360) 816-6221
The National Park Service is currently in the beginning stages of a large preservation project on the palisade at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, your urban national park. National Park Service staff are overseeing the selective replacement of pickets, king posts, walers, and the north gate of the palisade of the reconstructed fort.
The north wall of the palisade was reconstructed in 1966 by the NPS, while the other three sides were raised in 1971. With a significant portion of the palisade now 50 years old, and the remaining portion soon to reach half a century in age, the structure was in need of attention to extend its lifespan.
"This palisade is a reconstruction of the original, an icon of the 19th century Pacific Northwest, which even today features prominently on the emblem of our city," stated Tracy Fortmann, Superintendent at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. "As an agency focused on preservation, we take proactive steps to ensure that we protect and preserve important structures such as the palisade, which symbolize our heritage," Fortmann further noted.
For the past 30 years, staff have been working closely with the Oregon State University College of Forestry to monitor the condition of individual wooden posts. Those being replaced are only those which have shown advanced rates of decay, through careful sampling and data analysis.
"Prolonging the lifespan of each timber, while recognizing the need to strategically determine when and where to replace them, is critically important," said Alex Patterson, Facility Manager. He added, "This national park has a tremendous number of nationally significant structures and resources which require thoughtful, considered care."
During this project, all of the facilities inside the fort will remain open to the public. The contractor performing the work is Ausland Group from Medford, Oregon.
Fort Vancouver, once referred to as the "New York of the Pacific," was constructed by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1829. For the global corporation, the palisade functioned as a security gate for the priceless furs and trade goods stored inside. The palisade, which was reconstructed on its original footprint as determined through archaeological excavations, would have been the first view of the fort for Oregon Trail immigrants, visiting missionaries, explorers and scientists, and soldiers arriving to establish Vancouver Barracks.
Where: Reconstructed Fort Site, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 1001 East 5th Street, Vancouver, WA 98661
When: This very important preservation project will be ongoing through this spring and summer and completed in time for the annual Campfires & Candlelight event on September 10, 2016.