Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is a historic site located in Vancouver, Washington. It is a reconstruction of the Hudson Bay Company's palisaded trading post on the Columbia River. The site is located right next to downtown Vancouver, so access is very easy. Of course, being so close to an urban area is a bit of a drawback, as well, since the sounds of the freeway never totally fade away.

After paying a small fee, visitors can walk around inside the reconstructed fort, and visit several buildings that would have been in use during the fort's residence, including the bakery, the blacksmith, the warehouse full of furs, the home of the chief factor, and the iconic bastion. Despite its name, the "fort" was more a trading post than a military base, so there is not much to look at of a military nature. (Although there is a later, and adjacent Fort Vancouver, of the United States Army.) The sights to be seen are very comparable to what might be seen in Colonial Williamsburg, although it is both less extensive, and much less of a tourist destination.

My own experience with the fort is heavily influenced by the fact that I grew up in the area, and visited the fort many times as an elementary school student. As an elementary school student in the 1980s, a fort built in the 1830s seemed incredibly ancient. Upon visiting it again recently, I realized that it was both less intense and large as I remembered it as a child, and that the fort was not quite as archaic as it would have seemed to me when I was young. Even in the Portland area, which was more recently built than many parts of the country, it isn't too unusual to find residential homes dating back to the late 19th century.

However, the fort is still an interesting and important place to visit for either the casual or dedicated student of the history of the Pacific Northwest, especially in reference to many of the historical areas around it.

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