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Forks

A thriving little logging town near the forks of three rivers, the Calawah, the Bogachiel, and the Soleduck. In marked contrast to the surrounding wilderness and the generally ramshackle air of many small logging settlements, the town is well planned and presents a neat appearance. Modern stores border the main street, where mackinaw-shirted loggers once scraped their calked boots along the concrete walks. In the 1940s, the town had a weekly paper, a creamery and a sawmill to supplement logging, its major industry.

The town is named for Forks Prairie.

Images

1925 postcard of street scene of Forks.

Source: Washington State Historical Society

Ca. 1965 image of a former logging locomotive on display at Forks.

Source: Washington State Historical Society

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Copeland House

Built in 1916 and distinguished by “rustic” log construction, the Adam Copeland House is historically significant for its close association with one of the founding families of Forks. The Craftsman Style house, built of rounded hemlock logs felled at the site, is among the most distinctive 20th century residences in town, and retains much of its exterior character despite conversion to a banking facility in the 1980s. Itis the best preserved structure associated with the contributions of Copeland who, between 1913 and 1933, platted the original Forks townsite and several additions, constructed numerous new homes in the community, and built several important local institutions including the hotel and hospital.

Smith-Mansfield House

The Smith-Mansfield House is significant in the settlement of the Forks Prairie and the surrounding Olympic wilderness by its association with several prominent pioneers. Jim Smith, the first inhabitant of the house, was a homesteader and successful early logger. The builder. of the house, Henry Huelsdonk, was a member of the colorful Huelsdonk family of Olympic pioneers and locally famous for his construction talents. Since 1917, the house has been continuously occupied by the Mansfields, a prominent family in the history of Forks and Clallam County.

Forks Prairie

The Forks Prairie is a 3,000-acre clearing located between the confluence of Bogachiel and Callawah Rivers on the Olympic Peninsula. It was named because it is located in the forks formed by the two rivers. The Quillayute burned the prairie to maintain it as a grassland that attracted game animals and provided camas, an edible bulb. Settlers were attracted to the Forks Prairie by the prospect of good land that did not have to be cleared of the immense trees native to the Olympic Peninsula. Luther Ford was one of the first settlers to arrive in 1878. Ford began growing vegetables and raising cattle on the prairie. By 1884, most of the Forks Prairie had been settled.