Saturday, March 25, 2006

3/25/06 Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Fort Vancouver National Historical Site 位於美國華盛頓州的Vancover市中心外。講到Vancouver,不僅是華人,連大多數美國人的第一直覺印象都是加拿大有名的溫哥華市。但許多人不知道的是,美國的溫哥華卻比加拿大的早成立30年。只是隨著河對面的Portland,還有加拿大的Vancouver的蓬勃發展,大家對於美國的溫哥華,自然就淡忘了。

Fort Vancouver雖然是因為紀念當初英國的探險家George Vancouver,但實質上經營此堡的是Hudson's Bay Company。當初為了搶美國新大陸,北美洲成了英國和法國都想搶的土地。為了拙壯自己的勢力,各國都極力拉攏不同族的印地安人。對於歐洲的國家而言,印地安人身上最實際,也是最值錢的東西,便是他們身上保暖的海狸(beaver)皮毛衣。二國為了爭領土,最終還是打了起來,一打就是打七年的仗。勝利的一方英軍,從此就壟斷了在北美洲的西北邊所有海狸皮毛衣的生意。Hudson's Bay Company(HBC)(哈德遜灣公司)曾經一度是全世界最大的地主。

時間再跳到1824年。剛從英國獨立的年輕國家-美國,也跟英國一樣,覬覦著北美西邊未開發的地。當時這一塊土地倒底屬於何國,始終橋不定,因此暫時決定同時被二國所享有。HBC為了搶先機,立刻在這兒蓋起了Fort Vancouver。此堡除了地理位置佳,船可以沿著Columbia River進而通往內陸交易之外,這兒的土地肥沃,居民可以自己耕種各種農作物,達到自給自足的生活,不需要依賴船隻供應糧食。將Fort Vancouver管理得那麼好的人物,便是Dr. John McLoughlin。McLoughlin在與HBC的長官們的理念漸漸不合之後,會在南邊的Oregon成立Oregon City,也會被後人譽為"Father of Oregon"。

時空流轉,曾經一度是北美洲西北邊的貿易中心的Fort Vancouver,今天已大不同。它當初的所在地,被美國國家公園管理處列為國家遺址。他們不僅照原來的模樣整修了這個堡,還找來木匠和鐵匠等,對有興趣的遊客還原當初在Fort Vancouver的居民的生活。 如果有人剛好去參觀Portland,不妨空出個幾小時,也到河的另一邊看看這個雖然小卻仍有特色的Fort Vancouver。

Fort Vancouver NHS lands on the 5th day of our Spring 2006 roadtrip. The Vancouver of interest here is the Vancouver in Washington State, United States. No doubt its Canadian counterpart in British Columbia is much more famous, but both cities are named after George Vancouver, the British officer who led the important expeditions of Northwest North America.

Vancouver, WA is 20 minutes away from Portland, OR, on the other side of the Columbia River. I also happen to have three aunts that live in this greater Portland area, so our gang was very fortunate to have 2 nights of free lodging at one of the aunt's. As part of our national park hopping trip, we spoke of visiting Fort Vancouver, and the only comment we got from my cousin Albert was "It's small........."

Be that as it may, we got to spend an hour or so at the fort. Fort Vancouver was established by Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) in 1824 as the fur trading post of the Oregon Country area, which in modern day roughly corresponds to the Canadian British Columbia, United States Washington and Oregon. At the height of its day, Fort Vancouver was the center of the fur trading business in the Pacific Northwest. A self-sufficient fort, not only did it have a pharmacy, blacksmith, sawmill, it also contained gardens, orchards, and a dairy. At one point, it even had the ability to export its own agricultural goods to other HBC outposts, extending its trade territory.

Today, a replica of the original fort stands in its original site, complete with reenactments from the blacksmith and carpenters. The last picture is me trying to get some sparks by striking on the flint stone. While not observing many visitors throughout the regular year, the place comes to life again on the Fourth of July. Fort Vancouver hosts a very large fireworks display that attracts quite a crowd.

Official Website:
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

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