Friday, April 8, 2011

Washington's Stonehenge

You don't have to go to England to see Stonehenge, not when Washington State has one that's a lot closer.

Washington's Stonehenge sits on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River, and offers stunning views for miles into the distance. That's Stonehenge in the large picture at the top of my  blog. The smaller picture was taken from inside the circle of stones looking west toward Mount Hood many miles away.

Washington's Stonehenge was patterned after the English monolith, and is sufficiently like it that British researchers visited the site a few years ago to do sound testing to get an idea of how things sounded when the original Stonehenge was built many centuries ago.

Washington's Stonehenge was built in the early 1900s by Sam Hill, a dreamer and entrepreneur. It eventually turned into the first memorial to World War I servicemen in the nation. Massive stones hold plaques with the name of a Klickitat County soldier who died in the war. Other monuments on the site honor local soldiers killed in other wars, starting with World War II. Sam Hill is buried on the hill below his Stonehenge.

This Stonehenge is part of the Maryhill Museum of Art complex; the museum is visible across the canyon. Hill also built Maryhill with plans for it to be a grandiose mansion for his wife, Mary, but she refused to move to the area. It sat empty for many years until it was turned into the wonderful little museum it is today.

Stonehenge is located off Highway 12 just east of the intersection with Highway 97 about nine miles south of Goldendale. Travelers on Interstate 5 in Oregon should exit at Biggs Junction, crossing the river over the Sam Hill Bridge.

If you're visiting in the summer, turn right as you exist the parking lot. The road takes you down to orchards where you can buy fresh-picked fruits.

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