You don’t have to cross an ocean to see Stonehenge. Just drive to the Evergreen State to visit a full-scale replica of England’s famous ruins. America’s version sits high atop Maryhill bluff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge.
Although the original Stonehenge is shrouded in mystery, the reason Samuel Hill built his impressive concrete monolith is very apparent—to honor soldiers from Klickitat County, Washington who served in WWI. In fact, when completed in 1929, Maryhill’s Stonehenge was the first monument in the country that specifically honored men who served in that war. No soldiers are buried here, but it is the location of Mr. Hill’s own gravesite; he passed away in 1931 at age 74.
Originally from Minnesota, wealthy entrepreneur Samuel Hill came to the Pacific Northwest in 1907 with the dream of beginning a Quaker agricultural community near present-day Goldendale, Washington. Although that never came to pass despite it being an excellent fruit-growing region, he founded the town of Maryhill (named for his daughter, Mary).
Mr. Hill also built and paid for the first paved road in the Pacific Northwest—Maryhill Loops Road—the 3.6 mile-long historic side road near the junction of Hwy 14 and Hwy 97 that winds up to Stonehenge. In fact, he built 10 miles of demonstration roads around Maryhill, used seven different road-building techniques, and spent more than $100,000 of his own money doing it. Why so much experimentation you wonder? As the president of the Washington State Good Roads Association, Sam was just as interested in identifying road surfaces that did not work, as discovering those that did. In fact, his personal mantra was “Good roads are more than my hobby; they are my religion.”
While building roads and the Stonehenge monument were extraordinary accomplishments, they were by no means Samuel Hill’s only notable achievements. He also left behind the Maryhill Museum of Art (again named for his daughter), located just a couple of turns in the road from Stonehenge. The hilltop castle was started in 1914 and was originally meant to be his home. That plan never materialized, though, and Maryhill instead opened as a museum in 1940. Views of the Columbia River Gorge from the mansion’s hillside perch are exceptional!
Surprisingly, this out-of-the-way museum holds large and eclectic collections: 90 chess sets carved from wood, crystal, and ivory by artists from over 40 countries; dozens of sculptures and drawings by Auguste Rodin; numerous Native American artifacts and petroglyphs; and of course Mr. Hill’s road-related memorabilia. Displays of Parisian fabrics from the 1940s and French glass art from the late 19th century are also showcased.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Maryhill’s Stonehenge is located 10 miles south of Goldendale, Washington (about 100 miles east of Portland, Oregon) overlooking the Columbia River Gorge just off Washington Scenic Route 14. No phone or website. Free admission. Open Year Round.
35 Maryhill Museum Drive
Goldendale, Washington 98620
Open Daily 9 AM to 5 PM March 15th – November 15th
Admission to museum is charged, but sculpture garden, picnic grounds, and parking are free.
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com