Fort Vancouver was
established in 1825 as a fur trading outpost that served as the
headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company. The fort was located on the
northern bank of the Columbia River in present-day Vancouver,
Washington. In 1849 the US Army set up Columbia Barracks (later renamed
Vancouver Barracks) on a rise above the trading post, fronting on the
river with buildings on a line from the water.
The post remained in active service, thru the
Indian Wars and the Civil War, being expanded for the World war. In
1917-18, a spruce mill and its related structures were constructed. The
Vancouver District's military headquarters were also located there.
Hundreds of tents were erected on the site of the mill. A variety of
support buildings, offices, mess halls, and latrines, were erected
around the mill to service them and the "spruce soldiers".
Fort Vancouver Barracks, 1917
In October 1917, under the headline:
'German Spies Operating in Washington Camp', an Iowa City newspaper
reported "German spies are operating in the army post here [Vancouver
Barracks] according to evidence gathered today. Efforts were made to
poison the water which supplies the barracks and it is persistently
reported that poison bread has been found. The post commander this
afternoon flatly denied reports that a German had been shot as he tried
to gain entrance to the bakery."
Fort Vancouver Spruce Mill, 1918
Operations at the spruce mill began
on February 7, 1918. The plant processed wood from the region's
forests, and turned out between four and six hundred thousand feet
every twenty-four hours. The milled lumber was then shipped to aircraft
production plants out of state. The Spruce Division also extended a
series of railroad spurs across the site to service the mill and kilns.
During the Great War, the Army's Spruce Mill Division covered most of
the old stockade site and much of Pearson airfield. The mill was the
world’s largest and supplied lumber for thousands of warplanes. A
privately owned shipyard, Standifer Shipyard, constructed some of the
vessels needed for "The War to End All Wars," but closed in 1921.
Because of the its significance in United States
history Fort Vancouver was declared a U.S. National Monument on June
19, 1948 and a U.S. National Historic Site on June 30, 1961.