Atlas Obscura

The Forks Timber Museum

Richie Diesterheft/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

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If you are driving around Forks, Washington, and see two burly loggers hardily sawing away—motionlessly carved into wood—then you’ve arrived at the Forks Timber Museum.

Forks, Washington, is a quaint town in the Pacific Northwest built on the lumber trade, though it’s now become better known for serving as the setting for the Twilight angsty teen vampire book series. If you happen to be in town and aren’t keen on visiting Twilight-themed cafés, then you ought to give the Timber Museum a whirl. The museum’s exhibits provide a close-up look at what it was like to live and work in the heart of the timber industry, tracing back to the 1870s, when Western settlers first arrived in the region.

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In those days, forests were deep and dense, navigable only by trail. Settlers cleared forest to set up homesteads and farms—the first dairy cows arrived by schooner. Growth was slow: By the 1920s, the town of Forks was still barely a block of buildings, and electricity didn’t spark up until 1923. All the while, teams of loggers whiled away their hours at logging camps run by timber barons, sped up by the introduction of railroads in 1918. By the 1970s, Forks had become known as the “logging capital of the world.”

The museum, built by the local high school carpentry class of 1989, offers glimpses back into the industry’s earlier and brighter days. Its displays include outdated tools and equipment, Native American artifacts, and photos of old camp life. Outside, there’s also a restored fire lookout. The museum’s operator is very friendly and informed on all things logging if you happen to have any knotty questions.  

Submitted by Atlas Obscura fellow and contributor Tao Tao Holmes.

For more on the Forks Timber Museum, visit Atlas Obscura!

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