Fort Vancouver: Photo essay

Road Journals Blog—Standing on the frosty, hard grounds of Fort Vancouver, you can’t help get a sense of the history there. I try to imagine the hardships of a winter spent trapping and trading fur in the northwest. It’s only late November and I can feel the cold radiating off the nearby Columbia River.

After a quick look around, I make my way directly to the blacksmith. The metallic air is warm and inviting, and I watch as he manipulates a piece of iron into a coat hook. The glow from his fire and the amplitude of tools gives me some very picturesque scenes.

I spend the rest of the afternoon walking around the full-scale replica fort, snapping shots of the Bastion and high wooden fence, the air museum and officers row. I make the short drive into Portland to have dinner with some friends, and return after dark for a tour by lantern light.

Although it's a cold night in Vancouver, the warm light from lanterns given to each tour participant provides a cozy atmosphere. Under a full moon, guides in period costume take us from room to room, where we learn what it might have been like to live and work at the fort in its heyday.

At the end of the walk we return our lanterns to a steaming, cider-spiced room, and questions are answered while sipping hot drinks. This is when I grab a couple of the guides and some lanterns and set up a quick moonlit portrait session to finish off my assignment. I return to Portland for the night and fly home first thing in the morning.

Thanks very much for the efforts of my wonderful contact Susan Parish at the Fort Vancouver National Trust.

More photos from my shoot at Fort Vancouver can be seen here.

Photographer David Collier shot images to accompany Nino Padova’s story about Fort Vancouver, Wash.—a historic recreatioin of a working pioneer-era fort—in March/April’s Oregon edition of VIA.

This blog post was first published in February 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.


I enjoyed the article in the AAA magazine but your pictures really made the fort come alive.

Gorgeous pictures of one of
my favorite places to visit.
If only all of our old forts were
as loved and well-preserved
as this one!


We, in America's Vancouver, have always been proud of our Ft. Vancouver. Let's hope that your pictures and story will entice others to discover our beautiful gem as well.



We are so pleased that AAA/Via sent you on photo assignment to the Fort Vancouver National Site. Your photos, particularly of the evening Lantern Tour at Fort Vancouver, make the living history here palpable. We hope Fort Vancouver receives many new visitors as a result!

Thanks again! It was fun working with you!


Wish I coulda' been there. That place is beautiful. Awesome shots. One talented photographer.

Wonderful photos. Almost feels like I'm right there.