Not long ago, Forks, Washington, was among the dreariest and most unremarkable expired lumber towns in the country.
Teenagers would kill time getting twisted on the “A” road, a desolate lumber route rumored to be haunted on the outskirts of town. Others would drive a couple hours east to Port Angeles in search of nightlife or west to La Push or Second Beach on the Quileute Reservation. Discarded lumberjacks would submit job applications with resignation at Clallam Bay Correctional Center and take long drives alone to contemplate the clear-cuts, wondering where it all went wrong.
As if to accentuate the abject tedium surrounding the small town just west of Olympic National Park, the rain never stopped and the clouds never parted.
Which is exactly why author Stephanie Meyers chose Forks as the setting for her bestselling vampire love novel Twilight, the premise of which came to her in a dream. Having Goggled the rainiest place in the U.S. (121 inches a year), Phoenix native Meyers wrote the book without ever visiting the town of just over 3,000 residents.
Forks saw a 600% increase in tourism almost overnight after the book’s publication in 2005. Corner store profits doubled, shop windows posted signs reading “We love Edward and Bella,” and cafés renamed their menu items to include characters’ names as fanatics swarmed to Forks from all over the world.
The mania was bolstered by the 2008 release of Twilight the movie, which was never actually filmed in Forks. Regardless, buildings were designated as sites from the story for the Twilight tour.
The Miller Tree Inn became the Cullen House. Owning one of the few two-story residences in town, locals Kim and David McIrvin volunteered their home to be Bella’s house. Shop workers dressed up like characters from the movie. Forks fully embraced Meyers’ imagination of itself, and the money it brought with it. In a surreal way, Forks became the Forks of Twilight – a town modeled after a book inspired by a dream.
Now you can spot Bella’s red ’56 Chevy truck parked in front of the Visitors Center on the south side of town. You can contend with droves of predominantly female fans for memorabilia at the Dazzled by Twilight store. You can track down the police chief who happily plays the role of Bella’s father and stay at the Miller Tree Inn Bed and Breakfast. You’ll probably need to make reservations.
But once the madness blows over, when the adolescent masses tire of chasing the vampire daydream, when Jacob’s blackberry cobbler is once again just a slice of blackberry cobbler in the middle of nowhere, and all that remains are the damp sidewalks and a few straggling tourists on their way to Sol Duc Hot Springs and the San Juans, what will become of eerie Forks, Washington?
Just how long does it take to clear-cut a dream?