The changing face of Forks because of "Twilight"

By Marcia Bingham
For Peninsula Daily News
Forks was settled in the early 1900s because of its proximity to the Sol Duc, Quillayute, Bogachiel and Calawah Rivers.

It was incorporated in 1945 and, at that time, farming was the primary means of earning a living.

For years it was famous as a “timber town.”

But it took a family of unrelated vampires to put Forks’ name firmly into the public eye and draw visitors by the thousands to this temperate rain forest.

Twilight — a dream by a young woman, Stephenie Meyer, which became a best-selling four-book series (and then a movie, with a sequel being filmed and plans for future films) — has changed the face of Forks and thrown open the doors to international visitors.

As anyone on the North Olympic Peninsula will attest, swarms of excited, eager
Twilight fans of all ages come to Forks to experience something magical.

Forks is working hard to retain that mystical aura.

While Twilight opened the floodgates to a fan base ranging from preteen to “oughta know better,” both male and female, the challenge has become keeping the interest high on the West End — and, from all accounts, Forks is rising to the challenge.

Visitors can pick up a colorful map of the action sites in the book and go off on a self-guided tour, hoping to catch sight of the occasional vampire (on a cloudy day) or a werewolf (non-seasonal).

Their fantasy is fed by the Chamber of Commerce-run Visitor Information Center, where mail for the vampire Cullen family is being saved and where props for exciting photos are treasured and shared.

Directions to other activities and information on Olympic National Park, the former big draw, are offered as well.

Residents are showing a tolerant, slightly amused face to visitors and often recognize the plight of their photo-happy visitors and offer to snap a picture of a group of tourists.

Their indulgence is being paid off with return visits and acknowledgement that this part of the county is both beautiful and quite unique.

Many visitors have sworn they will return to savor the incredible beauty and friendliness of the Pacific Northwest — and some have already relocated their families to be nearer here.

Keeping the experience exciting may not always be possible, but in these first years of the Twilight saga, everyone seems anxious to hold onto the dream as long as possible.

New stores have opened in Forks, new products have been created to fill the seemingly endless demand for booty — and jobs are being offered when it was feared summer work was a thing of the past.

Our gratitude is extended to Stephenie Meyer, who recognized a romance-hungry market which has eagerly devoured her fiction and asked for seconds.

While she hints at the supernatural and teases the reader with her story of endless love, the value of her writings is in the relationships she describes and the settings in which they take place.

Forks is grateful to be the cloudy, mysterious and soggy site for Bella, Edward and Jacob to establish their bonds and immortalize Clallam County.

With four books in the series, it’s hoped more movies will result and the flow of fans will continue.
________

Marcia Bingham is executive director of the Forks Chamber of Commerce, www.forkswa.com; 1411 S. Forks Ave. (P.O. Box 1249), Forks 98331; 360-374-2531.

Or e-mail chamber@forkswa.com.

This is one in a revolving series of columns in the Peninsula Daily News every month on tourism in Jefferson and Clallam counties.

Last modified: May 16. 2009 6:55PM
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