You don’t have to travel to England to ponder the origins of the mysterious Stonehenge. You can, instead, take a drive through the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, and once you’ve left civilization behind, you’ll come upon a similar monument, perched above the river. This recreation of the original Stonehenge is far less mysterious, but it’s still somewhat bizarre.
Once you’ve left Portland behind, and passed through the most scenic portion of the Columbia River Gorge, the landscape becomes a little less dramatic…
… but still beautiful. Here, the river spreads out over a shallower valley, surrounded by arid hills that look more like a desert than you’d expect to find in the Pacific Northwest. And then, suddenly, there’s something else you wouldn’t expect to find here:
It’s Stonehenge. Not the Stonehenge, but a Stonehenge — one that gives you a better idea of what the original probably looked like, before centuries of time took their toll.
This is Samuel Hill’s Stonehenge. And it may make you wonder, “What in the Sam Hill was Samuel Hill thinking?”
Samuel Hill was a businessman and a champion of quality roads, back in the early 20th century, when automobiles were just beginning to grow in popularity. He decided to build a town here, complete with paved roads, and name it after his daughter, Mary Hill. The Stonehenge replica would serve as a memorial to the servicemen lost in the first world war, and the town would surround it. A few buildings were built, but they later burned, and the town was a failure. But, Sam Hill’s vision of a concrete Stonehenge replica was completed in 1929, two years before Sam Hill’s death.
Nowadays, the Maryhill Stonehenge is free and open to the public. It’s a full-sized, astronomically-aligned replica of the original, as it would have appeared when it was first built.
You’re free to walk around this Stonehenge, inside and out.
From inside, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. the view to the east is especially nice in the hours before sunset.
This outlying concrete column is part of Stonehenge. In the distance, power-generating windmills cover the hills.
After leaving Stonehenge, I was headed east, and found a few more nice spots to view the mountains along Washington Route 14.
During my first visit to Stonehenge in 2006, the sun was higher, and I had a better view towards the west. As you can see, Mount Hood is on the horizon, although it’s a good distance away at this point. You can read all about my previous visit to Maryhill’s Stonehenge here.
The Bottom Line
Maryhill’s Stonehenge is an interesting historical monument that recreates an even more interesting ancient monument. If you’re driving through the Columbia River Gorge, it’s worth — at the least — a brief stop.
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. The turnoff to Stonehenge is well marked, although it feels like you’re driving away from everything before you get there. 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.
Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from Stevenson, Washington to Stonehenge at Maryhill …
… and Stonehenge to Interstate 82 around sunset: