Forks, WA (population 3,120) has that distinction, although I didn’t know it at the time that I visited it in July 2005 on our way up the western slopes of the Olympic Peninsula on Route 101. I just knew that it seemed to rain all of the time on our visit. I only learned in researching this blog that they get over 120 inches per year.
The town was built upon logging and they still call themselves the Logging Capital of World. But, logging is for the most part, long gone. Like many other rural towns in the mountains of the west, Fork’s logging was killed off in the early 90s when the spotted owl became more important to some people than rural jobs. But, I digress!
In 2005, Stephenie Meyer decided to write a series of books about a young girl, Bella Swan, who moves to a small town and falls in love with a pretty boy, Edward Cullen, who turns out to be a vampire. Meyer chose Forks after doing an internet search of the rainiest spot in the USA.
The Twilight Saga, a series of four books and a new movie released last month, have grown into a mini-Harry Potter cult. The local Chamber has cultivated “Twilighters” who are beginning to flock to the town to see. They’ve put together maps, tours and even redone a 1953 Chevy pickup truck that Bella drove in the book. They’ve started an annual look-alike festival to commemorate Bella’s birthday on September 13th, the first one this year drew over 1,000 people.
Those efforts have resulted in more than 7,000 Twilighters visiting the town in 2008 with many more expected with the release of the first movie in the series.
I’m not sure what part of “fiction” these Twilighters don’t understand, but Forks is leveraging a very unique resource. I hope that they can leverage it for a long time.