Quite a haunted location has been brought to my attention by a friend of mine who lived in Vancouver, Washington for quite some time. Fort Vancouver, located in (of all places) Vancouver, is a site I hadn't given much thought to, or really known about. It's been quite difficult to piece together bits and bobs of what haunts the infamous fort. For now, let's start with a little history about Fort Vancouver:
The fort was established in 1824 in the Colombia District by the Hudson's Bay Company as a fur trading outpost. It served as a meeting place and trade center between the British, French Native Americans/Canadians, Hawaiians and eventually the Americans. Ships and fur traders visited the fort to barter and exchange goods. The fort was large, housing over 40 buildings, including housing, warehouses, a school, a library, a pharmacy, a chapel, a blacksmith, etc.
Knowing that the question of who got the Oregon Territory would be decided by whomever had the biggest settlement, the Fort was soon surrounded by agriculture and people. By 1849, Vancouver was less of a trading post and more of a military and civilian fort. It also served in the Civil War as a station for Washington's and Oregon's troops and cavalry. Most of the fort burned down, however, in an 1866 fire.
The fort was used as a military post in several wars, until 1948 when it was declared a National Historic Site. From then on it has been more of a tourist destination, although (until recently) SWAT teams used the abandoned hospital as training grounds.
What happens here?
It seems that each section of the fort has its own spooky stories to tell.
John Mcloughlin, the fort's first manager, has been seen and heard walking up and down the halls of the house he used to live in during his 22 year position.
(I wouldn't want to meet him on a dark staircase. Would you?)
Glowing mists flow over the parade grounds from time to time.
The Barracks are another spot of high activity. It was built on a colonial cemetery, which may account for the mysterious sounds emanating from the buildings. The main ghost here is "Sully," an officer that may have been alive with President Grant, where he was stationed at the fort.
A row of Victorian houses-turned-offices have had some claims of touching from the people who work there. Not only that, but footsteps are heard, as well as the ringing of an unplugged telephone and the disappearance of more than one pot of coffee.
The most activity-ridden building in all of the fort, however, is the abandoned Fort Vancouver Hospital. It was the specific request of the friend mentioned earlier. She says that she's heard many stories from friends about what goes on in the building.
It doesn't sound surprising that the hospital is the most haunted section of the fort. Many hospitals are haunted. This hospital was opened when medical practices were rudimentary at best, when surgeons only occasionally washed up before a surgery, and limbs were still hacked off if there seemed to be no other solution to a break or infection. Ghosts and Critters reports Mike Lakey telling his experiences in the hospital:
Mike Lakey, a civilian employee talked of the frustrations he and others had in keeping the front door locked. Several times he would lock the building at night. In the morning he would find the door unlocked. He put tape on the door to see if anyone had opened it during the night and broke the tape. Each time, the door was unlocked and the tape was unbroken. The person who unlocked the door did not go inside, and nobody left.
Not only have there been unlocked doors, but reports of very aggressive spirits chasing people out of the basement (which was once the surgery blood collection facility and the morgue) have come from would-be investigators. Hysterical screams can be heard, even from outside. There is even one outrageous claim that one room on the third floor (the mental ward) is so active that loose papers will automatically float to the ceiling!
One day I would absolutely love to witness Fort Vancouver for myself. Not only because I'm nerdy and love reenactments, but because the fort is still so active with its original residents. There must be something special about that fort, the first real settlement in the Pacific Northwest, to keep those that served and lived there around hundreds of years later.
For more information, here's a list of websites giving more detail about Fort Vancouver's history and hauntings: