Campfires & Candlelight event recreates night of historic fire at Fort Vancouver

Free event is the national park’s largest living history event of the year

VANCOUVER — On Sept. 7, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will host its annual Campfires & Candlelight event. This free event is the national park’s largest living history event of the year.

Beginning at 4 p.m., the “Timeline of History” leading from East Fifth Street to the gates of Fort Vancouver will be the site of several camps filled with costumed reenactors sharing the history of the site. As visitors walk closer to the fort, they will be transported further and further back in time. Along this stretch, Living History Group NorthWest will host a World War II camp, other volunteers will portray World War I, and the First Oregon Volunteer Infantry will host a Civil War-era camp. Other camps populated by National Park Service volunteers will represent the site’s Oregon Trail, and Hudson’s Bay Company history.

Campfires & Candlelight event recreates night of historic fire at Fort Vancouver
Fort Vancouver and the Timeline of History camps will be open to the public until 10 p.m., offering a rare chance to see the fort after dark, and see buildings lit by candlelight, as they would have been in the 19th century. Photo courtesy of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

At 5 p.m., the gates of the reconstructed Fort Vancouver will open. Inside the fort, reenactors will recreate the night of Sept. 26, 1844. On this night 175 years ago, a massive wildfire that had sparked to the northeast of the fort was moving towards the fort, and would eventually come within 300 feet of the fort’s walls. Visitors will be able to interact with volunteers portraying specific characters who were present on that night, and will learn not just about the story of the fire, but also about other important issues from the time period. Learn more about the history behind the event here.

Fort Vancouver and the Timeline of History camps will be open to the public until 10 p.m., offering a rare chance to see the fort after dark, and see buildings lit by candlelight, as they would have been in the 19th century.

“Campfires & Candlelight brings first person interpretation of the history of the fort site, and it’s our pleasure to bring it to our community year after year,” said Chief of Interpretation, Aaron Ochoa. “The theme for our 2019 event – called ‘Night of the Fire’ – is very relevant today, with increased threats of wildfires throughout the region. This threat was very real for the Hudson’s Bay Company too as is portrayed in this program about the site’s history.”

What: Campfires & Candlelight at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Where: 1001 E. Fifth Street, Vancouver, WA 98661

When: The Timeline of History opens at 4 p.m. Fort Vancouver opens at 5 p.m. The event ends at 10 p.m.

Cost: Free

Information provided by Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

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