When the word "Stonehenge" is spoken, an image instantly comes to mind: the prehistoric circle of massive stones standing sentinel on the Salisbury Plain of England, shrouded in mystery and ancient lore. But what if I told you that thousands of miles away, just across the Columbia River from Oregon, a similarly intriguing Stonehenge stands, looking over the serene landscapes of Washington State?
This article is part three of our stories highlighting the beautiful Maryhill, Washington area. For an epic day trip itinerary, consider visiting the Maryhill Museum of Art, before heading over to Maryhill Stonehenge, and ending the perfect day with a wine tasting and snacks at Maryhill Winery.
Stonehenge, England: An Ancient Enigma
Before delving into the history of Maryhill, it's essential to briefly journey back to the iconic Stonehenge of England. A marvel of ancient engineering and design, the origins of Stonehenge date back to around 3,000 BC. Its exact purpose remains one of the world's most compelling mysteries. Was it a temple, an astronomical observatory, or perhaps a sacred burial ground? Whatever its role, Stonehenge has continued to captivate the imagination, drawing millions to its massive sarsens and bluestone pillars with the whispers of forgotten ceremonies.
The Pacific Northwest's Own Stone Circle: Maryhill Stonehenge
Upon first glance, you might be deceived into thinking you've somehow been transported to England's Salisbury Plain. But no, you're still in the Pacific Northwest, gazing upon the Maryhill Stonehenge, which stands proud and enigmatic on a bluff overlooking the scenic Columbia River.
The Maryhill Stonehenge is not a relic from ancient times, but its origin story is no less intriguing. Commissioned by Samuel Hill, an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and road builder, this full-scale replica was completed in 1929, serving as a testament to Hill's fascination with the original Stonehenge and its mysteries. However, Sam Hill's intentions were not just to recreate an ancient wonder. The Maryhill Stonehenge was dedicated as a memorial to the Klickitat County soldiers who lost their lives in World War I. Hill, ever the pacifist, was profoundly impacted by the war's ravages. In creating this monument, he wanted to send a powerful message: "Lest we forget, humanity's propensity for self-destruction."
Sam Hill: More Than Just A Monument Builder
To truly understand the depth of the Maryhill Stonehenge's significance, one must also look at Sam Hill's legacy. He was not only responsible for this Stonehenge replica but also played a pivotal role in the creation of the Maryhill Museum, which houses a rich collection of art and history. Together, these landmarks illustrate Hill's eclectic tastes, grand vision, and deep commitment to pacifism and memorializing the horrors of war.
For those visiting the Pacific Northwest, a journey to the Maryhill Stonehenge offers a unique experience, blending the allure of ancient mystery with a powerful message from modern history. It stands as a poignant reminder, a stone monument reaching across time, linking the enigmatic past of England's Salisbury Plain with the rugged beauty of Washington State.
What Exactly is Maryhill Stonehenge?
The monument is a full-scale replica of what England's Stonehenge may have looked like when first completed by ancient builders.
Initially, Hill had envisioned using local stone for this majestic monument. However, when the native stone didn't meet the quality benchmarks, he pivoted to an innovative solution. Hill chose reinforced concrete to build the replica. But in a testament to his attention to detail, the rough and rugged appearance reminiscent of ancient hand-hewn stones was cleverly crafted by lining the wooden molds with crumpled tin, giving the monument its unique texture.
A significant inspiration behind Sam Hill's creation of the Maryhill Stonehenge lies in his beliefs about the original Stonehenge's purpose. Hill was under the mistaken impression that the historic Stonehenge was a site of human sacrifice. This notion, combined with the tragic loss of life during WWI, compelled him to see a poignant parallel. Hill perceived both as heartrending examples of human sacrifice – the former in the name of ancient rituals, and the latter due to the devastating "incredible folly" of warfare.
With a vision to immortalize this sentiment, Hill embarked on an ambitious journey to recreate the ancient Neolithic wonder right here on the cliffs of the Columbia. To ensure the utmost authenticity, he consulted leading experts in archaeology, astronomy, and engineering. Their collective expertise was channeled to reproduce, as closely as conceivable, the dimensions and design of the legendary Stonehenge in England.
Why Maryhill Stonehenge is a Must-Visit for Veterans and Everyone Alike
To the veterans, the Maryhill Stonehenge is more than just stones and history. It's a somber reminder of sacrifices made, lives lost, and the fervent hope for a peaceful future. As the stones cast long shadows over the Columbia River, one can't help but reflect on the weight of history and the timeless call for peace. It's a place to remember, to honor, and to hope.
In conclusion, the Maryhill Stonehenge is not just a replica of an ancient structure. It's a bridge between worlds – the old and the new, the past and the present, war and peace. For those who've experienced the haunting allure of the original Stonehenge in England, the Maryhill Stonehenge offers a fresh perspective, steeped in the rich history and landscape of the Pacific Northwest. And for those who've never seen either, a journey to this Washington marvel is a voyage to the heart of humanity's deepest mysteries and hopes.