“In the state of Washington, under a near constant cover of clouds and rain, there’s a small town named Forks. Population, 3,120 people. This is where I’m moving.” That’s what Bella Swan said when her mother hooked up with a minor league baseball pitcher and she ended up going across the country to live with her dad. As Bella prepared to move in, she felt only despair and a marked lack of joy. I completely understand how she felt and I was only traveling by car and ferry to see the town that the Twilight books and movies were based in.
Here’s something I learned as I was researching my trip — after I took it, mind you. While Twilight and its sequels are set in the town, not a single scene was filmed there. Nope, most of the movies were filmed in Oregon and some parts of Washington. Not in Forks. Zillow.com even called the Forks Chamber of Commerce to verify this and learned that yes, not one scene was shot in the town.
That’s probably because the location is very remote. And Washington state doesn’t make it easy for people to film there, with no tax breaks or incentives, which is why the filmmakers mostly shot in Oregon, Vancouver and Louisiana.
But Sam, tell us about Forks.
You got it.
Forks is located in Clallam County in the Olympic Peninsula and was incorporated on August 28, 1945. It’s a small town — around 3,500 people — and gets its name because it is quite literally near the forks in the Quillayute, Bogachiel, Calawah, and Sol Duc rivers.
Prior to what the internet told me was the town’s boom in tourism — more of that later — most people in the town are employed by the two jails and from sport fishing.
So you may wonder, how did I find myself on a ferry bound for the home of Edward, Bella and Jacob? Well, I love my wife. And I indulge her. And her aunt had suggested this. And soon, we’d be enjoying “27 minutes of our lives that we’d never get back,” to quote Becca.
First off, the Forks High School looks nothing like the place where Edward saved Bella from that car, nor where they were lab partners. No, instead it’s a small school filled with teens that scowl instead of glow. After all, Twilight’s author Stephenie Meyer never visited Forks when writing any of the books.
Across the street, we noticed Leppell’s Flowers & Gifts, which was run by a nice-seeming older couple. As they were working on the concrete in front, we had to head around the back and go through an alley and a hidden door to find the store that some call Twilight Central. That’s when we noticed this tour bus!
We didn’t look into the tour and after spending just a bit of time looking at the scrapbook supplies, we bid the store farewell. Perhaps it’s just as well, as this amazing Yelp review did the store no favors.
We drove through the town some more, saw Bella’s truck (which probably wasn’t the one used in the movie), went in two more Twilight themed gift shops and then headed out of town to Thriftway/Forks Outfitters. For being in the midst of some of the greatest coffee in the world, we had the best coffee drinks of our entire trip at their cafe! And get this — a Twilight menu! That’s how you do business!
They had used Twilight movies and an actual rental store within this general store that seems to answer every need of the folks in Forks. Even better, their deli offers some choices for the discriminating Twilight fan, made of course with high quality Kretschmar deli meats and cheeses:
Why doesn’t Jacob get a panini? Where is Bella’s BLT? I have so many questions and once you’re in Forks, you never get any answers.
At least Becca got this lighter, which will keep her smoking for years after she has planned to quit:
On the way out of town and back to the ferry, an overall three-hour-plus trip, we stopped to get gas and caffeine. That’s when I met Forks, WA local favorite Barry, who had on no shirt and a jacket as he careened around the store, screaming at people that he was about to go to the casino (One Eyed Jacks?) and do some drugs. After that, he followed an employee outside who was about to cry and told her he was sorry about her sister, but some people have it coming. Barry seemed like a real pip.
Goodbye, Forks! Thank you for showing us the place that inspired a movie that no one has really cared about since 2012. I kid — most of the people in town seemed genuinely nice and totally not about to kill us as we wandered their theme stores, ala Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses.
Want to learn more about Forks? Sure you do! Check out their official site!
BONUS: Listen to Sam bitch up a storm about watching Twilight on a past episode of our podcast: