A quaint timber town came alive in 2005, when the undead arrived.
Forks, Wash., was a graveyard of closed businesses, rusting timber mills and unemployment. Parts of the high school were condemned, and families were moving out. That was until an unknown author decided to use this northwestern community as the setting for her young-adult novel "Twilight."
An unlikely cast of vampires and werewolves arrived with their creator, Stephenie Meyer.
Today people from all over the world make pilgrimages to Forks hoping to catch a glimpse of the magic in Meyer's books.
"We love Stephenie Meyer and we love Twilight.' That's what took us," said Vicki Ulibarri, a surgical technician who lives in Farmington.
Ulibarri, 53, and her daughter Summer King, of Albuquerque, recently returned from Forks, where they celebrated King's 30th birthday along with the town that also celebrated the Sept. 13 birth of Bella Swan, the female narrator and lead character in the "Twilight" series.
"The town is quaint. The people are so friendly and helpful," Ulibarri said. "It was fun to get to see Forks. It came alive from the books."
The townsfolk have seen a huge increase in tourism since Meyer's four books "Twilight," "New Moon," "Eclipse" and "Breaking Dawn" topped the New York Times bestseller lists.
The books tell the story of the Cullens, a vampire family who lives in Forks. The father, Carlisle, is a doctor at the area hospital, and his five children attend the local high school. Edward, the youngest son, meets Bella Swan, a 17-year-old, who moves to Forks to live with her father, the police chief. Bella and Edward become star-crossed lovers wrapped in an adventure of epic proportions.
Forks residents embraced the story and the town is completely crazed over "Twilight." The high school and police station are opened for tours. The hospital has a reserved parking space for Dr. Cullen and the stores sell all types of vampire goods.
This "Twilight"-inspired turn has been nothing short of magical, said Marcia Bingham, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce. "We've probably had more than 100 people a day."
Wander down the town's main drag and you'll see "We Love Edward and Bella" signs in store windows and a Forks Speedway sign welcoming "Vampires and Racers."
Restaurants have started offering "Twilight" themed options: Subway's "Twilight Special" oozes marinara and the Bella Burger at local hangout Sully's Drive-in, comes with special sauce and pineapple.
Stacks of "Twilight" T-shirts sit behind almost every counter in town. At Sully's, 32-year-old Eleanor Currit waves a pair of plastic vampire teeth in the air — a standard side for any customer who orders the Bella Burger.
"When I go back to my book club, I'm definitely going to have bragging rights," she said. "The women in my group are honestly crazy about these books."
Currit, a stay-at-home-mom with a master's degree in English, said being in Forks was like opening a page of the book and jumping in.
"This town just has a pretty primal way about it," she said. "It's really a mysterious beauty."
Forks is a place where the weather is typically is cloudy. That is why Meyer chose it for her novels. Vampires can't be out in the sun, and the sun doesn't shine all that often in and around the Olympic Mountain Range.
When Meyer wrote the first book, she had never visited Forks. After the book's success, she does visit and the town recognizes her once a year with Stephenie Meyer day.
Interestingly, the cloudy days are what fans want to see on their visits.
"The atmosphere was wonderful. It was rainy and misty. It really brought the books to life," said Mari Chavez, 47, of Farmington.
Chavez is a receptionist in a dental office. She loves the "Twilight" books and made the trip to bring the saga to life.
"It was a down home, quaint little town," she said. "It felt like everybody was real. It made the books more real."
That is what Michael Gurling was banking on when he started his business Twilight Tours.
After enlisting a few locals, he asked for help in picking out houses that could serve as stand-ins for the book's famous Forks stops: Bella and Edward's houses, a field where vampires play baseball.
"The most popular spot is probably the beach, in LaPush, where Bella finds out the truth about Edward," Gurling said.
"I loved LaPush and the Ho National Forest. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen," Ulibarri said.
Ulibarri is a Twilight Mom, a member of a Web-based support group for women who love "Twilight." The organization plans yearly trips to Forks, and Ulibarri said she plans to make an annual pilgrimage to one of her new favorite places.
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Editor's note: Whitney Malkin of the Associated Press contributed to this article.