Graduate student embarks on project to pinpoint site of original Fort Vancouver
The establishment of Fort Vancouver in 1825 was a pivotal moment in the history of the Pacific Northwest.Too bad we don’t know where it was built.Historians know that it was somewhere on the bluff above the Columbia River, near what is now Evergreen Boulevard.Amy Clearman wants to find that site, and she is starting a research project in two neighborhoods near Vancouver’s historic core.The Portland State University graduate student will make a presentation on May 23 at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center, 1501 E. Evergreen Blvd. Clearman hopes to enlist the help of residents of the nearby Hudson’s Bay and Edgewood Park neighborhoods. Her research plans include looking for signs of that vanished fur-trading post in some people’s yards.“The fort site is in a residential neighborhood, and hopefully, I will be excavating on people’s properties, so I will need a lot of help,” Clearman said.But wait! Isn’t there already a Fort Vancouver, complete with replica wooden stockade, adjacent to Pearson Field?Yes. That fort is where the Hudson’s Bay Company relocated in 1829. After four years on the bluff, the fort’s managers realized that hauling everything a mile or so up that hill from the river (including water) was not practical.And the neighboring tribes were no threat, so there was no need for a more secure, defense-focused position on the high ground.The 1829 version of Fort Vancouver — now a National Park Service site — was the regional headquarters of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s fur-trading operation for about 30 years. The Hudson’s Bay Company abandoned the post in 1860, in the face of a growing American presence, and headed for Canada.Eventually, the community lost track of the precise locations of both forts sites: the one built in 1825 and the relocated version that now is a national park.