Friday, March 31, 2023
March 31, 2023

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Fort Vancouver to host national parks’ ‘Get Outdoors Day’ on Saturday

By , Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter

Vancouver’s national park is working with like-minded agencies from down the street and across the Northwest in an effort Saturday to get people outdoors.

This will be the fifth year the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site has played host to a showcase of regional national parks.

But Saturday’s Northwest National Park Family Day has been folded into the national “Get Outdoors Day” observance, as well as Fort Vancouver’s annual Brigade Encampment re-enactment of the Hudson’s Bay fur-trading era.

o What: Get Outdoors Day, Northwest National Park Family Day.

o Where: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 1501 E. Evergreen Blvd.

o When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

o Cost: Free.

“This was a chance to combine forces,” said Tracy Fortmann, superintendent of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

As families get busier, Saturday’s one-stop outdoor day is more efficient than three different weekend programs.

o What: Get Outdoors Day, Northwest National Park Family Day.

o Where: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 1501 E. Evergreen Blvd.

o When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

o Cost: Free.

“This will provide a broader reach,” said Kimm Fox-Middleton, supervisory ranger.

Saturday’s free event will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Fort Vancouver National Site’s visitor center, 1501 E. Evergreen Blvd., opposite Officers Row.

The Northwest sites represented include Mount Rainier, Olympic, Crater Lake and Oregon Caves national parks, as well as the Lewis and Clark, Klondike Gold Rush and Nez Perce national historical parks.

Rangers from the Seattle unit of the Klondike Gold Rush park will give people a chance to try out their gold-panning skills; staff from Nez Perce park will offer opportunities to do bead work.

Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation also will participate, in addition to Washington state parks.

“This is very exciting for us,” Fortmann said. “We’re an urban park, and we can be the initial connection with the other national parks, and all the other agencies. Maybe one of them hooks you.”

Other partners include the U.S. Forest Service, which will offer a free fishing opportunity; the Oregon Zoo, which will have an animal exhibit; and the Portland Audubon Society, which will have a display of Northwest birds.

Fort Vancouver app

Also on Saturday, a first-of-its-kind mobile app will make its public debut at the reconstructed Fort Vancouver site, 1001 E. Fifth St.

One of the modules, based at the “Kanaka Village,” tells the story of the native Hawaiians — kanakas — through performances by re-enactors and images of historical documents.

The Fort Vancouver app for Apple and Android devices was developed by Washington State University Vancouver’s creative media/digital culture program, in collaboration with the park service and a local Hawaiian cultural foundation.

Focus on fort women

In another Saturday event, the lives of women at Fort Vancouver and Vancouver Barracks will be the focus of a museum open house at the fort.

It will include stories of wives of trappers and traders; the wife and daughters of Dr. John McLoughlin; and the women who lived and worked at Vancouver Barracks during the 19th century.

Artifacts in the fort’s museum collection include trade items, jewelry and tools used by women.

There will be a display of clothing worn by Idabelle Haughey Kress, the stepdaughter of an Army captain who lived on Officers Row from 1874 to 1884.

Tours will be offered on the hour, from 10 a.m. to the last tour at 3 p.m.

Visitors must register for a tour time at the ranger station just inside the gates. Children must be over 10.

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558;

Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter