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The entire point of the park is the preservation of survey marker 0,0 (in geometry, the origin point for all grpahs) from which all the other locations in the states of Oregon and Washington draw their reference.
The Willamette Stone itself isn't that much to look at: it is a metal disk with the crosshairs on it to pinpoint its exact location. It is smaller than most people's hands, but it is inscribed with the date 1851, which is when the initial point was established.
This is not the original stone, however. This disk was placed here in 1988 during re-survey work. The original survey marker was supposedly a simple stake pounded into the ground.
At this location there are three benches. Each of these has one name of those significant to the original survey work. The last segment of the steeply sloping pathway down the hill to the marker are steps, but there is a side pathway made with gravel that goes around the steps.
This particular location was chosen as it would prevent the line running east-west from crossing the Columbia River (an obstacle in surveying) and the north-south line would be prevented from crossing Vancouver Lake (another obstacle in surveying).
Written Mar 29, 2011
By far the easiest and safest way to get to the Willamette Stone is to drive. The problem here is that the park is located along Skyline Road, and there isn't very much space to walk next to the road. In many places, you just have to hope that you don't get run over by one of the many idiots that drive way too fast on Skyline and don't pay attention to where they are going.
All that said, you can get here by public transit: bus route #20 comes up Burnside from downtown Portland, and there is a stop at the summit of Burnside at Mount Calvary Cemetery. At this spot, Skyline Road separates from Burnside. To get to the Willamette Stone, I highly suggest crossing Burnside, walking through the Cemetery rather than next to Burnside, then you must walk towards the intersection of Skyline and Burnside. Once at Skyline, wait for a break in traffic entering Skyline and cross it, so that you may be facing traffic as you walk up the hill to the Willamette Stone.
Coming from Beaverton, you can also get off the bus on the south side of Burnside, but that means trying to cross Burnside on foot. This may or may not work for you, though there is a cross walk here few drivers seem to allow pedestrians to cross here.
If you are driving, your best choice from downtown Portland is to take Burnside up the hill, and then drive straight at the intersection where Skyline separates from Burnside, just west of the summit.
From Beaverton, you can not turn left onto Skyline while going east. You must instead use Cornell Road and make a right turn onto Skyline.
From Burnside, Skyline makes several curves, and after a fairly short distance the park will be on the west side of Skyline. There is a white guardrail around the parking area with a small gap in it for people to enter the park, a wide spot for people to park, and a forest made up of mostly fir trees. The fir trees on the west side of the road beneath the huge radio antennas is one clue that you are getting close to the park. The park entrance is almost directly across the street from Royal Boulevard, which is a narrow residential street that goes nowhere in particular.
Updated Mar 29, 2011
Most people go blasting through the Mount Calvary Cemetery on their way across the west hills, and give little thought to the cemetery though which Burnside Road passes on its way between Beaverton and Portland.
There are some great viewpoints in this cemetery.
However, in particular, if you are visiting the Willamette Stone anyway, if you wander across the street and then south just slightly, there is a wonderful viewpoint that is absent the noise from the traffic on Burnside, and it a much more fitting resting place, in my opinion, than directly next to such a busy road as Burnside.
This particular section of Mount Calvary Cemetery is completely isolated by the street formation and topography from the rest of the cemetery, and is therefore not very well known.
As appropriate, it is possible to find flowers in bloom here along the edges of this well maintained cemetery, and combined with the great view from here in may just give you a chance to glimpse something from beyond this life.
October through March, visiting hours are 9 to 4, and April through September they are 9 to 6.
Written Mar 29, 2011