The Search for the First Fort Vancouver

Local archaeologist Amy Clearman will present “The Search for the First Fort Vancouver” on Saturday, June 1 at 2 p.m. at the Camas Police Station Meeting Room, 2100 3rd Avenue, Camas.  The presentation is hosted by the Camas-Washougal Historical Society.

Fort Vancouver 1833 - courtesy of Clark County Historical Museum

Fort Vancouver played a critical role in the settlement of American pioneers in the area.  In 1825, the British Hudson’s Bay Company built the first Fort Vancouver as a fur trade post on the bluff above the Columbia River. In 1829, they moved the location of the fort to the lower plain, where the reconstructed fort now stands

 “The exact site of the first (1825) fort has been lost to time and the mystery of its location has intrigued area residents and archaeologists for at least a century,” said Clearman. “The area where the first fort sat began to be developed in the late-19th century and is now an urban residential neighborhood. This means the fort’s location is on private property.”

Amy Clearman

For her Master’s thesis project, Clearman worked with neighborhood residents to archaeologically excavate for evidence of the first fort on their property.  Her talk will cover a short history of the North American fur trade in the Pacific Northwest, the role of Fort Vancouver in establishing settlement in the area, and results of the search for the first Fort Vancouver.

 Clearman is a graduate student at Portland State University and Graduate Research Assistant at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. She is studying historical archaeology with Dr. Douglas Wilson, and has focused on the early history of Fort Vancouver for her thesis work. Her experience in archaeology goes back to 2001 when she joined the Oregon Archaeological Society and participated in many volunteer archaeological projects. Since then, she has worked avocationally and professionally in archaeology, and instructed university students at the Fort Vancouver Archaeology Field School for three summers. In addition to her graduate studies, she is currently working as an intern at the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office in Salem, Oregon. Amy lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and three daughters.

WHS operates the Two Rivers Heritage Museum at 1 Durgan Street, Washougal WA.   Regular hours are Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through the end of October. Museum admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for students and free for children under 5 and all Camas/ Washougal Historical Society members. Call 360-835-8742 for more information or to schedule group tours any day of the week.