Monthly Archives: April 2014

Washington State’s Own Stonehenge

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Stonehenge at Maryhill

Stonehenge in England is surrounded by theories and speculation. It’s fun to try to think about what the circle of stones really meant and why it was created. But Stonehenge in Maryhill, Washington has a definite known reason and purpose.

This full-size replica of the stone structure was built by Samuel Hill, a businessman, and was finished in 1929. It is however, not made out of stone, but out of concrete. Its purpose is to honor those who died in World War I. The names of soldiers from Klickitat County are engraved on markers. It is also the very first Memorial to World War I Veterans in the entire United States.

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Hill had heard that the original Stonehenge was thought to have been created as a sacrificial place, so he envisioned the Maryhill Stonehenge as a tribute to those who were sacrificed in war.

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There are 40 stones on the inside circle and 30 stones on the outside. As the original Stonehenge marks the solstice, so does the Maryhill one. The Altar Stone is aligned to the sunrise on the Summer Solstice.

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Altar Stone in the center

Standing in different parts of Stonehenge the sun throws shadows that look both beautiful and intriguing. It’s interesting to stand there for awhile and watch the shadows move with the sun.

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Shadows

Maryhill Stonehenge sits high on a bluff above the Columbia River in the Columbia Gorge. The view is spectacular every way you look. On the beautiful spring day we were there, the sky was deep blue and the grass was still green, not having turned brown yet from the heat.

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The Columbia River and Gorge

With no mountains to block the view, you can see west to Mt. Hood.

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Sam Hill Memorial Bridge and Mt. Hood off to the left

Looking down on the river you may see fishing boats, speed boats or even barges and tug boats transporting their goods upriver. You can see the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge crossing the Columbia River to the town of Biggs on the Oregon side. In a time-warp feeling of old vs. new, wind turbines can be seen on the Washington hills north of Stonehenge.

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Wind Turbines

There is no cost to visit the memorial and it is open from 7am to dusk.

Directions: On the Washington side of the Columbia River, go east on Hwy. 14 and follow the signs to Stonehenge.

On the Oregon go east on Hwy. 84 to exit 104 and the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge at Biggs, Oregon. Take it north, crossing onto Hwy. 14 and continuing east following the signs to Stonehenge.

 

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Categories: Historical, Keatons Out and About, Oregon, Outdoors, Parks, Roadside Attraction, Uncategorized, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning About Fish: Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Oregon

 

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White Sturgeon – he’s looking at you!

When would you guess that the Bonneville Fish Hatchery in Cascade Locks, Oregon was built? 1990’s? 1970’s? During the hippy days of the 1960’s? Would you believe it was 1909?! I was very surprised because I didn’t think hatcheries came into existence until much more recently in response to dams and concerns about endangered fish. But this one was built as a rearing site for eggs that were received from other hatcheries. At that time it was known as “Central Hatchery”. The hatchery sits on Tanner Creek, which flows into the Columbia River. In 1930 it was expanded to be able to hold 11 million salmon. It was expanded again in 1978 and again in 1998. The facilities are built on the site where Lewis and Clark camped on April 9, 1806!

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Bonneville Fish Hatchery Grounds

We spent one recent spring day there and it was heartwarming to see so many other families there introducing their children to the fish and learning about conservation and the lives of fish. The beautifully manicured grounds is very welcoming. You can pick up a free tour guide that will lead you around the facility and tell you all about it and what fish are in each pond or “battery” as some of the rearing ponds are called.

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Fish “Batteries”

There are beautiful Rainbow Trout ponds.

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Trout!

You can even feed the fish. There are vending machines and for a small price you can buy food and toss it to the fish and watch them snap it up very quickly.

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Josh feeding the trout

The White Sturgeon Pond was amazing! The fish are the size of a tree trunk! You can watch them swimming lazily through the water from above, or go down below into a view area and feel like they are swimming straight towards you. Kids love to see how the Sturgeon look like they have their bones on the outside of their body. They’re very majestic looking fish though, and you can’t help but stare at them for a very long time.

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White Sturgeon next to tree trunk

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Sturgeon Viewing Room

You can also see the Egg Incubation Building which is on the National Historic Register and includes a Visitor Information Center.

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Incubator Building

There is another small Visitor Center in the building that holds the offices for the Hatchery. You can also see the Spawning Room in that building and view a 12-minute video explaining spawning.1-IMG_3259

Finally, you have to stop at the Oregon Wildlife Bonneville Gift Shop where they have a lot of souvenirs and wildlife conservation items to choose from. All proceeds benefit fish and wildlife projects.

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Gift Shop

To help you plan your visit you can see the Tour Guide here: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/visitors/docs/Bonneville_Hatchery_Self-guided_Tour.pdf

From April to August the hatchery is open from 7:30am-8pm. September and October hours are 7:30am-7pm. November to March it’s open from 7:30-5pm.

Getting there: Take I-84 east from Portland to exit 40 Bonneville Dam/Fish Hatchery and just follow the signs.

Categories: Historical, Keatons Out and About, Oregon, Outdoors, Parks, Roadside Attraction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Teapot Dome and the Government Scandal

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Teapot Dome Gas Station

What does a big government scandal have to do with a strange little teapot-shaped building sitting in tiny Zillah, Washington?

In 1915, President Wilson set aside the oil reserves in Teapot Dome, Wyoming and Elk Hills, California for the Navy to use as they were converting their ships from coal to Oil. Senator Albert Fall didn’t like the idea. When Warren Harding became president, he appointed Fall to the position of Secretary of the Interior. In 1922 Fall convinced the Secretary of the Navy to turn control of the oil fields over to him, and he promptly accepted bribes for the leases from wealthy oilmen. Once known, the Marines even had to be called in to settle the issue.

So even though the scandal did not directly involve the Zillah area, Jack Ainsworth built the 15-foot-tall Teapot Dome Gas Station in 1922 in his own version of a protest to the scandal, which some consider to be the greatest political scandal up until Watergate.

Trials on the scandal continued through the 1920’s, until 1927 when the Supreme Court ruled that the leases were not valid because they were obtained through corruption, and returned control of the oil reserves to the Navy. In 1929 Albert B. Hall was finally found guilty of bribery and sentenced to one year in prison and fined $100,000 (he accepted $400,000 in bribes).

The Teapot Dome used to sit next to Highway 12 but when Interstate 82 was built the dome was moved into the town of Zillah. The site even includes the original outhouse! However, the gas pumps are not originals. The Teapot Dome is now a visitor’s center. It was added to the National Historic Register in 1985 and is also on the list of the Most Endangered Properties List.

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Moving the Teapot Dome Gas Station

To see this unique roadside protest to government scandal, take I-82 to Exit 52 to Zillah. Follow the road up the hill, staying to the right. The beautifully restored red and white Teapot Dome can’t be missed sitting on the left side of the road.

Categories: Historical, Roadside Attraction, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Firefighters on the Butte: Watchers and Teachers

Fire Smoke

Fire in the lava “island”

Smoke in the distance. In the Bend, Oregon area this happens rather regularly. When that happens while we are visiting we like to drive up to a little cinder cone south of town because it has such a fantastic view, probably a couple of hundred miles.

This time when we got to the top, we saw a US Forest Service fire truck and several firefighters. They weren’t in fire gear, just wearing blue uniforms. Ironically, when we were here eight years previously, there was also a thunder and lightening storm and when it was over we went to this same cinder cone and there were firefighters on lookout then as well!

We stepped out of the truck to take pictures. The fire was an impressive sight from up there. It was in the “lava island” at Lava Lands Visitor Center (see the article posted March 24). We could see the smoke actually billowing up. We went up to talk to the fire crew, and one of them started explaining everything to us – which fire that was, why they were letting it burn, that there was significant lightening expected that day, that they had just gotten back from fighting the fire at Warm Springs. Anything we asked he answered and more.

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Keeping watch

We somehow started discussing timber management and the differences in how timber grows on the coast and how it grows here. He told us that the trees are supposed to be close there but here they are naturally spaced about 40 feet apart. He said low underbrush naturally grows here and when a fire starts it burns just that lower part and doesn’t reach the canopy so the trees survive. He explained to us that past poor management over-planted the trees so now they are closer together. The firefighters are trying to play catch-up by thinning some trees but this is also a controversial practice politically.

He also explained that the practice of NOT putting out fires has been detrimental as it has allowed low undergrowth to get taller, and when it catches fire now it can reach the canopy and kill the trees as well. He believed he knows proper management techniques that would make the forests healthier as well as cost MUCH less and save taxpayer money, but that, again, politics interferes.

While he was explaining all this, he was also kind enough to open one of the equipment doors on the fire truck and took out a whiteboard marker and illustrated the tree and undergrowth for us. It was really quite educational!

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Fire truck “white board”

Josh made himself at home while we were being “educated”. He talked to the other crew members, and they allowed him to climb on fire truck to take pictures from that vantage point.

Just before we left a state police pickup pulled up just to check on the crew and find out what they were seeing. He also told them that that a woman he talked to was a little panicked when she saw the smoke because she thought a volcano was going off!

We wondered how long that crew stayed up on that cinder cone watching for fires. We really appreciated their willingness to welcome us and take their time to educate us – and we were especially grateful for the job they do to protect beautiful Central Oregon.

 

Categories: Keatons Out and About, Oregon, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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