There’s no need to cross the globe to visit Stonehenge – just drive up the Columbia River.
The Stonehenge replica at Maryhill, a small community on the Washington side of the river, has long been a beloved roadside attraction, astronomical viewpoint and Pagan gathering spot – and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Maryhill Museum of Art announced Tuesday.
Constructed between 1918 and 1929 as a memorial to Klickitat County soldiers and sailors who died during World War I, the Stonehenge replica is perched on a bluff overlooking the river just east of the Columbia River Gorge.
The monument was created by Sam Hill, an early advocate of paved roads who was known for the experimental prototype road he created on his land at Maryhill, a place he named for his wife and daughter, both called Mary.
Today, Maryhill is home to a winery, art museum, state park and the famous Stonehenge replica, all near the intersection of U.S. 97 and Washington State Route 14.
A world traveler, Hill visited the real Stonehenge in 1915, just after the start of World War I, according to the Maryhill Museum of Art. Accepting a then-common interpretation of the site as a place for human sacrifice, Hill – a devout Quaker and a pacifist – sought to recreate the ancient monument back home as a memorial for those who he saw as being sacrificed for the war effort.
Unlike some other popular American Stonehenges, the Maryhill Stonehenge is a full-scale replica, mimicking the scale, arrangement and astronomical alignment of the stones.
According to the Maryhill Art Museum, Hill made it a point to bring in an astronomer to help align his altar stone. Unlike the English monument, Maryhill’s altar stone is positioned in line with the astronomical horizon instead of the midsummer sunrise – resulting in a three-degree difference from the original.
The altar stone was dedicated in 1918, with a plaque that read: “To the memory of the soldiers and sailors of Klickitat County who gave their lives in defense of their country. This monument is erected in 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 alone can quench.”
Construction on the rest of the memorial finished in 1929, and was rededicated on Memorial Day of that year.
When Hill died in 1931, his ashes were placed in a crypt below the Stonehenge, replaced in 1955 with a granite monument.