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Oral History Program

Image of Fort Worden
	 disappearing gun firing (University of Washington Archive)

The Fort Worden Oral History Program collects oral histories from those who were at Fort Worden during a memorable period of their lives.

Comprehensive Oral History Interviews

Since its inception in 2003, the volunteers of the Fort Worden Oral History Program have collected more than 300 interviews with the men and women who have served, lived, worked, or visited Fort Worden over its long history.

The interviews tell of the real life experiences of those who served at Fort Worden during the military era; who worked or lived here during the Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center days; or have visited, participated in activities, or worked at the fort since it became a state park conference center.

These interviews, which have been transcribed and cataloged, form a rich treasure trove of stories that should be mined for source material by historians, students, genealogists, and writers. To provide easy, searchable access to our archive of Oral History interview excerpts, we are now posting them on our Fort Worden Oral History Program Blog. Stop by and enjoy reading the stories of men and women who have lived & worked at Fort Worden.

Excerpt from an interview with Robert W. Klum of King City, OR conducted by phone by Patience Rogge on December 4, 2008 from the Fort Worden History Center. Mr. Klum served in the U.S. Army 369th Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment from 1951 to 1953 at Fort Worden. Here he describes an incident that proved rather embarrassing for his commanding officer:

“The master boat must have been probably 80 feet long. It was kind of like a PT boat, very fast, the colonel who was the head of our group rode on it. They called it a Q boat. The colonel got himself in big trouble one time. All the companies (you can imagine how many boats we had) and the Q boat left Fort Worden at 3:00 AM and headed for the San Juan Islands. I had no idea what we were going to do when we got there, but we went off to Blaine, WA, and anchored the boats just outside Blaine. You could see the beaches of Canada at night. We had a little fun sending light messages in Morse code, talking to sailors who were on the beach. When we woke up the next morning, it was foggy, very foggy. The Q boat went around and told us which way we were going to go, and then we would all follow.

We were underway about two hours, thinking we were heading toward the San Juan Islands. All of a sudden, a big Canadian destroyer pulled up alongside us, honking his horn and telling everybody to shut off their engines; that we were in Canadian waters and we didn’t have permission to be in Canadian waters and we were all under arrest. The colonel who was on the Q boat that was leading us was very embarrassed and spent quite a bit of time talking to the commander of the Canadian destroyer. He admitted he’d made a mistake and wanted help to try to find his way back home.”

Mr. Klum also shared his experiences in a slideshow he created. It has been converted to a PDF for easier download or viewing in your browser.

One Soldier Remembers Fort Worden (1.3MB)

Come Check out the Fort Worden Oral History Program Blog. It provides easy searchable access to our archive of oral history interview excerpts

Select a cataloged list of these interviews from the links below:

Comprehensive Interview List (updated 04/2014)

Listen to the interviews by playing the video, or download a version here.

CDs and transcripts of complete interviews are available for a nominal fee to cover duplicating and shipping costs. Please contact us at:

Fort Worden History Center
200 Battery Way, Port Townsend, WA 98368
(360) 344-4481

Library of Congress Veterans Project

We are collaborating with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project to collect oral histories of veterans and wartime civilians who were based at Fort Worden. A record of these interviews will be registered with the Library's national database. Recordings and memorabilia will be preserved in the Fort Worden State Park archives. For a list of archived veteran interviews, please visit the Veterans History Project Database website.

Historical image taken during world
war 2.

Share Your Story

We continue to collect stories from those involved with the Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center, State Parks employees and from participants in park activities. Recorded memoriesfrom interviewees' Fort Worden experiences are carefully documented and preserved in the Fort Worden State Park archives.

You will be interviewed by one of our trained our Oral History Program volunteers. The recorded interview will be no more than 90 minutes in length. During your interview, we encourage family and friends who might have accompanied you to take a stroll along the beach, enjoy a snack in the Fort Worden Commons, visit the Marine Science Center or partake of the other activities Fort Worden offers. If you are unable to travel to Fort Worden, we can arrange to interview you by telephone.

Categories of particular interest include:

We hope you will take this opportunity to leave a legacy for future generations by sharing your memories. Please contact us at the address below. We look forward to your contribution. Look for other updates on our Oral History Blog.

Oral History Program
200 Battery Way, Port Townsend, WA 98368
(360) 344-4481

Updated Wednesday, December 7, 2016.