Explore Fort Vancouver’s History By Taking Old City Cemetery Candle Light Walk Oct. 26-27

Sunday, October 14 2012 15:25   Historic Graveyards
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Many local historical groups around the West use the Halloween season to draw attention to their communities' cemeteries as a way to remember the past, encourage today's residents to learn about early settlers and to raise a little money for restoration projects.

One such community is Vancouver, Washington and it's Old City Cemetery.

oldcity_100_6278Vancouver's settlement history stretches back to the mid-1820s with the Hudson's Bay Company's fur trading post at Fort Vancouver, and the exploration and settling of the Pacific Northwest.

One community group in particular offers a special program at this time of year to have a little fun and showcase the city's early history.

On Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26-27, 2012, the Vancouver Heritage Ambassadors will host its 10th annual candle light walk through historic Old City Cemetery.

The 10-acre Old City Cemetery is located at Mill Plain and Grand Boulevard, (the old, old 1857 city cemetery). Enter at the southeast corner gate. Walks start approximately every 15 minutes from 5:30 to 7:15 p.m. and take about 45minutes. Dress warm.

The cost is $5 per person, plus a canned food donation for the Clark County Food Bank. No charge for children under 10 accompanied by an adult. Parking is free at The Air Academy. For more information, contact Michael Patrick Parker at (360) 607-6852.

Members of the Vancouver Heritage Ambassadors dress in period costume and accessories and offer tour guests living-history talks about some of those early pioneers. Members of the group research real people from Clarke County history, and present their stories in first person.

The Ambassadors recently raised about $2,500 to fix some of the damaged fencing at Old City Cemetery and install a new gate.

The cemetery contains some of the most historical graves found in the Pacific Northwest.

Along with graveside monuments of people who worked for the Hudson's Bay Company, other markers identify soldiers of the early U.S. military's Fort Vancouver and immigrants who traveled west along the Oregon Trail.

Vancouver's Old City Cemetery was struck by vandalism in March 2011 when someone damaged 44 grave markers and a lamp post. The damage was estimated at $8,000. But a dollar figure doesn't really total the real damage.

"The real impact exceeds that," Vancouver Director of Public Works Brian Carlson said last year. "This vandalism costs our community, impacts the families of those buried there and harms a solemn, historic site."

While the city has the responsibility for maintaining Old City Cemetery, groups such as the Clark County Genealogical Society and the Vancouver Heritage Ambassadors help document and preserve the cemetery.

That's why donations and support are so important to helping preserve the history of the West found in so many local cemeteries.

If you're interested in helping, seek out the genealogical or historical society near you. Ask them how you can help. We bet there's a historical cemetery not far from you that could use your money and your time.

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