There really isn't too much to this little state park. There is a camping area that take up approximately 2/3 of the space of the state park, and a day use picnic and swimming ground takes up the remaining 1/3 of the space.
It should be understood that the wind in the Columbia Gorge is quite strong (there is a reason for all those big wind turbines!) and so the picnic shelters here are a unique design that helps a little bit with the strong wind.
The park has watered grass that is kept in a lawn-like condition in the picnic and camping areas, which makes for a very unusual contrast from the dry natural vegetation found surrounding the park.
There is a boat ramp and a hand-carried launch side further west. Due to the windy nature of the Columbia River it is a popular location for wind surfers, but Maryhill and its state park are only patronized by this crowd when the beaches and river further west are crowded.
The park is open all year for camping and day use.
I have covered this state park in my Maryhill State Park page, which I will leave for the reader to peruse if they so desire. It is located at
Have you ever heard the saying "What in Sam Hill is going on?" Have you ever wondered why the name Sam Hill would be a mild expletive for bizarre ventures?
It so happens that Samuel Hill was an eccentric and wealthy personality in the Pacific Northwest, and some of his more eccentric creations probably caused this saying to be created. Many eccentrics existed in the 1910s and 1920s, but few had Sam Hill's financial ability to move them from concept into reality. Some of those eccentric creations are still in existence in Oregon and Washington.
Stonehenge is one of these. Content not only to construct a huge estate in the middle of the dry eastern lands of the Columbia River Gorge, Samuel Hill decided that the area needed a War Memorial after the end of World War I.
This monument of his would be the first memorial ever constructed in the USA to military personnel who perished during World War I.
Most wealthy people of the age that came after the war seemed to be quite content to construct fairly conventional war memorials with cannons or statues of soldiers, or whatnot. These were the same types of memorials to various other past conflicts that were built. Those who thought differently mostly didn't have the money to construct their memorials, apparently. So, in the vast majority of places memorials to World War I were built along fairly familiar patterns by those designing them and building them.
Not Samuel Hill! Oh no!
In the middle of absolute nowhere in the dry depths of eastern Washington, on a hill overlooking the Columbia River, he decided to construct a full replica of Stonehenge, complete with all the missing pieces that are not there or have fallen down in the original structure in England. Using the new wonder-material of the age, it was decided concrete would be the best way to make his Stonehenge when local rock proved to be impractical for such a structure. Today, this means perhaps the reproduction Stonehenge is even more eternal that its original, but the surfaces of the rocks are molded and shaped to look much like the rocks of the original back in England.
Why construct such a thing as a war memorial?
Sam Hill was a Quaker Pacifist, and visited England during the 1914 to 1918 conflict, including a visit to the "real" Stonehenge. He was told during his visit that the structure was probably originally part of a human sacrifice tradition to pagan gods. His response, in light of the ongoing war, was "After all our civilization, the flower of humanity still is being sacrificed to the god of war on the fields of battle."
Thus the inspiration to create a structure that would make the statement that human sacrifice is still performed in very savage ways, with different motives but not so very different attitudes than those practiced during the age of human sacrifice.
After World War II, and with ongoing conflicts after the "War to End all Wars" a second memorial was constructed slightly uphill from the Stonehenge memorial. This memorial, absent the eccentric enthusiasm and huge wealth of Samual Hill, was constructed along more conventional lines.
Today, at least, the war memorials exist close to the intersection of Washington State Route 14 and US Highway 97. These have become reasonably busy roads, and so Maryhill and its Stonehenge Monument seem as though they are not quite out of place. However, when the alter stone was dedicated in 1918 there was almost nothing in this area other than the railroad lines running along the river, several hundred feet below the memorial, and a few structures that made Sam Hill's efforts at creating a community here.
The complete structure was dedicated in 1929.
Today, of course, we know a bit more about the original Stonehenge and there are many that discredit the concept of it being a location of human sacrifice. It is also highly likely that the Sam Hill copy has been constructed improperly as it doesn't quite face the sun angles the same given the different compass positions at this location. However, that assumes that the primary reason for its construction was to duplicate the one in England in practical terms, including its function as a solar and lunar device. It was, in fact, designed to make a statement about war and the human sacrifice that continues to this day.
Along with the memorials, the location has some decent views of the Columbia River and its canyon (not officially the Columbia River Gorge at this point) from its point above the river.
The replica of Stonehenge is visible from Google Maps and Google Earth.
The ancient people might be able to recognize Stonehenge, but the dry plains of eastern Oregon and Washington that surround the monument would be completely unrecognizable to them.
Also completely unlike the protected Stonehenge of the Old World, the gravel parking lot is essentially completely uncontrolled and people park whatever and wherever they feel like, even if it might be blocking someone else or prevent a larger vehicle from turning around.
There are no restrooms at this memorial, but there are some at the bottom of the hill at Maryhill State Park.
American has several stonehenges - replicas of the infamous original from the British Isles. The American Stonehenge at Maryhill is one of the most popular sitting atop a lonely bluff overlooking the town of Maryhill, Washington and the length of the Columbia River. It is a full-size identical replica astronomically aligned of the ancient monument of "Stonehenge" in England. It serves as a replica for those who died in World War I and was built by the road engineer, Sam Hill from 1918-1930. It took him 12 years to perfect the monument, dedicating it on July 4, 1918 and completing it in 1929. He passed away shortly after its completion and was buried at the base of bluff below the monument in a difficult to reach location so that he'd be left alone by the tourists he expected to come see his monument. Hill originally built the monument after being mistakenly informed that the original Stonehenge was used for sacrifice. He wanted to symbolize how humanity was still being sacrificed to the God of War. His monument can be seen ominously looming on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River and easily seen by all passerbys on U.S. Highway 97.
The dedication plague at the monument reads:
"In memory of the soldiers of Klickitat County who gave their lives in defense of their country. This monument is erected in the hope that others inspired by the example of their valor and their heroism may share in that love of liberty and burn with that fire of patriotism which death can alone quench."
Sam Hill also built a mansion nearby that hosts the Maryhill Museum of Art holding monuments of the Klickitat County soldiers who died in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. It is also the very first monument in the United States to be constructed to honor the dead of World War I. The altar stone is aligned with the sunrise on the Summer Solstice. There is no admission to the Memorial.
Not far from the Maryhill Museum stands Sam Hill's Stonehenge Memorial. A replica of the original Stonehenge, this one was dedicated as a World War I memorial in honor of the men who gave their lives during the war.
Unlike the original, which was made from huge stones, this version is made of concrete and is back to its original state.
For more info, see the following website: http://www.maryhillmuseum.org/stonehenge.html
ok, let's make a long story short. Rich guy builds a house for his wife, she hates it, they split, it becomes a museum - Welcome to Maryhill Museum.
Sam Hill has many interesting, if not eclectic, items on display. Everything from family photos and engineering tools to chess sets to Rodin sculptures. Quite an interesting mix, indeed. That said, we enjoyed looking at the various items and learning the story.
If you happen to be in the area, give it a look.
I love Stonehenge. I had to visit this replica. It actually is a war memorial, built in honor of the sacrifice of men from the area during WWI. But even so it is life sized, a full and completely built concrete replica of the original. Near dusk I walked slowly into the circle of pillars, imaging it to be the real thing on the plain of Salisbury and allowed the moment to sink into my consciousness. It was magical.
It is hard to spend much time here, just an hour would be plenty to give yourself time to wander among the pillars, read the inscriptions to the war dead and gaze at the view of the Columbia. There was also a small memorial plaque to honor veterans of other wars, and a very small gift shop with no hours listed.
I have created a tip for the sculpture garden for several reasons:
1. The sculpture garden on the grounds of the Maryhill Museum of Art does not require an entrance fee, making them an interesting roadside attraction as an interlude on a long drive.
2. The sculpture garden is a well shaded area and can be a nice picnic spot.
3. Few visitors to the museum seem to explore the outdoors around the museum, and thus drive right past the sculpture gardens.
Each of the sculptures has a sign describing the sculpture, so that the very abstract pieces have some level of explanation from the artist.
For contact information, see the Maryhill Museum of Art tip.
This sculpture garden does not include the huge concrete sculpture overlooking the river near the overflow and RV parking lot, which is in a different section of the museum grounds.
Maryhill was originally not a community. Originally it was an estate owned by the Hill family. The grand house that overlooks the Columbia River was built Mary Hill. Unfortunately, Mary never did spend much time in this part of the country. Rumor had it she hated the dry landscape that her house overlooked.
In any event, as the family was extremely weathly, the house was equipped with a number of art works that eventually formed the basis of the Maryhill Museum of Art.
The grounds and house still have their stunning views of the desolate, dry landscape.
As the museum has become more and more of an art museum and less and less of a Hill family museum, some changes have taken place. For example, the ground have a wonderful shaded picnic area, with a sculpture garden.
Currently, there is no charge to enter the grounds or use the picnic area, or view the sculpture garden or use the outdoor drinking fountain that is one of the old Simon Benson fountains from Portland.
Admission to the grand house costs $7 for adults, $2 for children, and $6 for seniors
Concrete does give this place a certain stark. . . beauty? It's too bad that there aren't sheep grazing right next to the monument, as there used to be at the old Stonehenge. If you wish to use this place for an event or ceremony, permission must be obtained from the Maryhill estate nearby.
The original (British) Stonehenge was constructed with large plinths that were apparently dragged over long distances and pushed or levered into place. Hill's modern Stonehenge was constructed with poured concrete, which he believed was the solution to most of the problems facing modern man. So perhaps it should be called "concrete-henge" instead.
Incidentally, Hill was misinformed about the original "purpose" of the ancient Stonehenge. It was used an an observatory and time-calculator.
Sam Hill believed that the original Stonehenge was originally built to honor fallen warriors of an ancient civilization. After World War I, he wanted to do something to honor local soldiers who had taken part in the campaign in France, so he set his mind to constructing a replica of Stonehenge on the ridge overlooking the Columbia. Apparently he wanted this to be a kind of northwester Valhalla.
Built by Sam Hill as a memorial to the soldiers of Klickitat County who lost their lives in World War I. It was the first monument in our nation built to honor the dead of World War I. The structure is a full-scale replica of England's famous Stonehenge.