Northern Rockies

 

Maryhill, Washington - Stonehenge

It's well documented that when some people start to grow old and a little crazy, they begin building big things out of concrete.  Developer Samuel Hill was no different.  In his later years, he decided to build a Quaker community aside the Columbia River, and name it after his daughter, Mary Hill.  And why not build as a centerpiece for this community, a full-size replica of Stonehenge?

Maryhill, Washington's Stonehenge war memorial is located on Washington Hwy. 14, directly above the Columbia River.  If you're coming from Oregon, you'll need to cross at US 97 (the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge, which is due for improvements starting in 2007 - check with WSDOT for info).  The turnoff to Stonehenge is well marked, although it feels like you're driving away from everything before you get there.  Here's a Google Maps aerial picture, to lend some perspective.  Do not follow signs for the Maryhill Museum (unless you want to go there too), since it is in a different location, about a mile away from the Stonehenge replica.

This replica of Stonehenge, which I will refer to as simply "Stonehenge" for simplicity's sake, is officially a memorial to World War I soldiers and sailors.  I have the feeling, though, that Samuel Hill really just wanted to build something big, and kinda cool, out of concrete.

He succeeded.  The reinforced concrete walls of this Stonehenge provide a good idea of what the original rocks would have looked like, if they hadn't crumbled over time.

Construction on Stonehenge began in 1918, but wasn't complete until 1930.  By that time Samuel Hill's Quaker community had failed, and he was near death.  He did live just long enough to see Stonehenge complete, though.  In 1931 he died, and he is buried on the hillside just below Stonehenge, in an area that isn't easily accessible, apparently because he didn't wish to be disturbed.  His tomb is somewhat ugly--in fact, I didn't even take a picture of it because at the time, I thought it was some sort of misplaced electrical box.

This plaque explains the reason all this is here--to honor the 13 Klickitat County servicemen who died in World War I.  I like what it says:

"This monument is erected in the hope that others inspired by the example of their valor and their heroism may share in that love of liberty and burn with that fire of patriotism which death alone can quench."

The names of the 13 men appear in smaller plaques, affixed to the stone pillars.

From Stonehenge's fantastic location, you can enjoy a great view of the Columbia River, a small patch of green farmland, the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge, and...

... of course, Mt. Hood, which is growing farther away, as you head east.

Another must-see attraction in this area, which I'm ashamed to say I missed, is Maryhill Loops Road, which runs north from Rte. 14 (the turnoff is just east of the turnoff to Stonehenge).  This was the first paved road in the state of Washington, or for that matter, the entire Pacific Northwest.  Sam Hill built this, too (promoting good roads was one of his pursuits--he also founded the Washington State Good Roads Association in 1899).  See pictures and a map here.  Oh, and bring your bike or prepare to walk--the 3 1/2 mile long road isn't open to cars.

You can read more about Samuel Hill's endeavors on the Maryhill Museum website.

As you leave Maryhill, headed east, you face a long stretch of nothingness.  Rte. 14 stays along the Columbia River almost the entire way to Interstate 82 and US 395 (which will take us north towards Pasco/Kennewick, then eventually Spokane).  You may have to drive about 10 miles per hour slower than on the interstate, but the views and the solitude are worth it.  While I-84 stays low along the river's edge, Rte. 14 follows the topography of the land, climbing up and dropping down several times.

When you reach I-82, head west (even though the road heads directly north here, it's still signed 'west').  US 395 will eventually split off, taking you towards Pasco & Kennewick.

 

 

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