The Pacific Northwest has no shortage of weird and wonderful - ask anyone who lives here.
Photo by FollowToto2015
This week's feature certainly hits both of those descriptions. Right here in Washington state we have a recreation of Stonehenge, the ancient stone monument found in England.
Back in 1918 - July 4th to be exact - a man named Sam Hill dedicated a memorial for those soldiers killed in World War I. The monument was a concrete replica of Stonehenge, including alignment of the altar to the summer solstice. Mr. Hill's selection of Stonehenge to commemorate fallen soldiers might seem a bit strange but it came from a belief that the ancient Stonehenge served as a place of sacrifice (Druids had bad PR in those days) and the memorial would remind viewers of the sacrifice of humanity to war.
It took eleven years to finish but it has stood the test of time, outlasting even the town of Maryhill where it was built.
Mr. Hill's dedication is worth reading, especially as think about sacrifice - sacrifice for each other's safety no less relevant today than it was in 1918:
"In Memory of the soldiers and sailors 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."
Author Andretta Schellinger has written about this monument in her work titled The Men Beyond the Stones and she shared her thoughts on the monument for this blog piece:
"To me, Stonehenge is not just a monument, rather a reminder of the men who heeded the call in support of our nation in a time of need. Their stories and lives are as important as the monument itself."
It might be surprising to PNW folks to learn this monument even exists, much less that other (albeit less inspiring) recreations also dot the landscape. If you are looking to take a road trip of faux Stonehenges, here are a few to check out:
University of Texas has a replica
The "Bamahenge" exists in Alabama and it is made from fiberglass
"Foamhenge" stands in Virginia, carved to appear like stone from foam.
"Carhenge" in Nebraska was created with (wait for it) vintage cars
For Australian travelers or residents, you can always check out the only exact, astronomically aligned version, located in Esperance in Western Australia.
So why the fascination with recreating Stonehenge? My opinion is that it is both iconic and mysterious and those are two things that lend themselves to both tribute and parody. You might never know with certainty why the great blue stones on Salisbury plain were raised by Neolithic
Bamahenge photo by Dennis Church (Flickr)
people, but perhaps it is that mystery that inspires people to create their own version to mark something as solemn as the war dead or as frivolous as vintage cars.
Ready to visit the Memorial?
If you want to visit the Washington state monument, head for Goldendale and the Columbia River and check out Andretta's work for deeper insights into the story behind its creation. It has to be one of the strangest and inspiring icons on the Washington state landscape.
"Carhenge" - photo credit: Wikipedia