"Maryhill-Surprising Treasures Off the Beaten Path" Mary Hill by Marilu33

Mary Hill Travel Guide: 2 reviews and 13 photos

Quirky Attractions in a Dramatic Rural Setting

On the way home to the Puget Sound from a trip to California, we put in a short side to catch a couple of attractions we'd been hearing and reading about. The town of Maryhill itself is barely more than a wide spot in the road. According to Wickipedia, the population in 2000 was 98 divided between 40 households. Farm fields and empty treeless countryside stretch in three directions as far as you can see.

The fourth side is the dramatic drop off into the Columbia Gorge to the impressively vast Columbia river far below. This river is so large that oceangoing ships can travel on past this point another 128 miles to the Tri-Cities area deep into the interior of the border between Washington state and Oregon.

This quiet rural setting gives little clue to the quirky history and features that makes it an attraction worth getting off the interstate and going out of one's way for.
First, the quirky history-Maryhill was named for the wife and daughter of the Quaker, Sam Hill. (Is he the original target of the exclamation, 'What the Sam Hill?!') He bought this land to build a Utopian Quaker community which never really materialized. Visualizing himself the Lord of the Manor of this little burg, he built an impressive mansion on the bluff of the river overlooking the town. The family never lived there, so the home was re-purposed as an art museum. That's one quirky feature.
The other feature was created as a result of Sam Hill's peaceful nature, which motivated him to build a war memorial at a different point nearby on the bluff overlooking the river, a memorial created as a life-sized model of England's Stonehenge. These two big features make little Maryhill a really fun side trip.

There is a nearby bridge by the small town of Goldendale, visible in the photo, where you can cross to and from Oregon and I-84 that runs along the river. Goldendale has a variety of motels, campgrounds, places to eat and get gas.

Stonehenge War Memorial

The full size replica of Stonehenge in concrete was created by Sam Hill as a memorial to World One Soldiers of Klickitat County. He mistakenly thought that the original Stonehenge was used for human sacrifice and used it as a symbol that lives were still being sacrificed to the Gods of War.
The bluff tends to be windy, but gives a good view of the river below. Although it is made of concrete, the sizes, general shapes and placement of the stones are all as Stonehenge would have been when it was originally built.
I found it to be more awe inspiring than I had expected to see how the stones lined up, how large they were, and the geometric design of it.
With the museum nearby, plan on doing both when you visit.
For more information on this memorial, go to this site:
http://columbiariverimages.com/Regions/Places/stonehenge.html

Maryhill Museum

First, be aware this museum has a season, and is closed from mid November to Mid March. I didn't expect a lot of this small art museum so far out in rural Washington. So I was surprised and impressed when I saw the collections on view. It is small, but the value and quality of the exhibits are surprisingly impressive.
Special Exhibitions and outdoor sculpture add more value and interest to the visit. Our time there was longer than expected, but needed to do the exhibits justice.
See my Things to Do tip about the museum for a more complete depiction of this little desert gem.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Unique attractions with impressive river views.
  • Cons:WAY out in the country
  • In a nutshell:Worth going out of your way to visit!
  • Last visit to Mary Hill: Feb 2013
  • Intro Updated Mar 2, 2013
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Marilu33

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