The Willamette Stone State Heritage Site, four miles west of downtown Portland, memorializes the Willamette Stone, an original survey marker used to map out the United States. Despite its minuscule size — 1.54 acres — the Willamette Stone State Heritage Site provides history, natural beauty and a place to reflect on the immense task of surveying the western United States.
Let greenery surround you at Willamette Stone State Heritage Site.
The Willamette Meridian is an imaginary line established in 1851 used to survey the United States. It runs from the Canadian border south to the California state line. Willamette Stone State Heritage Site pays homage to the “initial point,” the point of origin of the Willamette Meridian — the Willamette Stone. The surveys completed from this point helped settle the Northwestern United States. The monument was created in 1885 but has suffered from vandalism and has been subsequently recast and reset throughout the years. The last remodel as of publication was in 1988.
Almost the entirety of the park is a 500-foot-long trail surrounded by tall firs and evergreens. At the bottom of the trail, a small set of stairs descends toward the Willamette Stone. The actual stone is centered in a 9-foot square slab marked with gridlines. A small metal survey marker rests above the plaque. Three small benches provide a place to rest, and you can read the history of the stone and Willamette Meridian on a plaque set atop the stone itself.
The park’s main draw is the Willamette Stone and metal survey marker, but the trail down to the historic marker allows for bird watching, hiking and cycling. Though small with minimal attractions, this state park is open year round and can be a nice, quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of nearby Portland.
A visit to Willamette Stone probably won’t fill your entire day, so head over to a nearby state park and round out the experience. One such state park, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, runs alongside an abandoned 21-mile railroad. The trail is open to all nonmotorized users — it even has a wood-chip trail for horseback riding. Another option, the Champoeg State Heritage Area, has acres of forests, fields and wetlands. You can even gain a little history and culture while exploring The Pioneer Mothers Log Cabin museum or the Historic Butteville Store, both found within the park.
- The Center for Land Use Interpretation: Willamette Meridian
- Oregon Parks and Recreation Department: Willamette Stone State Heritage Site
- Oregon State Parks: Park Heritage Notes — Willamette Stone
- Oregon Parks and Recreation Department: Banks-Vernonia State Trail
- Oregon Parks and Recreation Department: Champoeg State Heritage Area
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images