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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

This Memorial Day, visit the nation’s first WWI memorial, a Stonehenge replica in Washington

The Stonehenge replica in Maryhill, Wash., was built as a World War I memorial. The monument above the Columbia River Gorge draws around 30,000 visitors per year.  (Shutterstock)
By Karlee Van De Venter Tri-City Herald

KENNEWICK, Wash. – A three-day weekend with warm weather is the perfect foundation for regional travel. Many families across the country begin camping season over Memorial Day weekend. This Memorial Day weekend, consider traveling to a regional destination with a veteran memorial.

Roughly three and a half hours from Spokane sits a full-scale replica of Stonehenge, in Maryhill. It was the country’s first WWI memorial, dedicated in 1918 in honor of the Klickitat County service members who died during the war.

Maryhill is a small town near the Oregon border, with a population of less than 100 people recorded in the census. It’s always been small, created by Samuel Hill in hopes of a “Northwest Utopia.” While the town never took off the way Hill intended, Maryhill still makes a great destination with its historic and beautiful pit stops.

The dedication committee from Goedendale Legion Post pose behind the altar stone of the Stonehenge Memorial site in Maryhill, Wash., in the 1920s. The site was built in 1918 to honor the service members of Klickitat County who died serving in World War I.  (Spokesman-Review Photo Archives)
The dedication committee from Goedendale Legion Post pose behind the altar stone of the Stonehenge Memorial site in Maryhill, Wash., in the 1920s. The site was built in 1918 to honor the service members of Klickitat County who died serving in World War I. (Spokesman-Review Photo Archives)

Maryhill Stonehenge replica memorialWhile the origins of England’s Stonehenge are still largely disputed, there’s nothing unknown about the Maryhill Stonehenge Memorial. The full-scale replica was actually built by Hill, who also built the nearby Maryhill Museum of Art and many other features in the region.

Legend has it that Hill was a pacifist who wanted to honor the county’s fallen soldiers while noting humanity’s continued conflicts. At the time, it was believed by many, including Hill, that the Stonehenge in England had been built as a site for human sacrifices. The replica was intended to be a commentary on war being equivalent to human sacrifice.

The altar stone received a plaque July 4, 1918, with the dedication:

“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 heroism may share that love of liberty and burn with that fire of patriotism that death alone can quench.”

There are 14 service members honored at the memorial: James Henry Allyn, Charles Auer, Dewey V. Bromley, John W. Cheshire, William O. Clary, Evan Childs, James D. Duncan, Harry Gotfredson, Robert F. Graham, Louis Leidl, Carl A. Lester, Edward Lindblad, Henry O. Piendl and Robert F. Venable.

Before COVID-19, a public ceremony was held at the memorial on the anniversary of each man’s death.

The Stonehenge replica and Klickitat County Veterans Memorial are open to the public for free visits every day between 7 a.m. and dusk.

Today, the replica offers stunning views at morning and night. While not quite set up to use as an astronomical calendar, the stargazing opportunities at Stonehenge Memorial are revered. During the day, you can see gorgeous views of the Columbia River and the surrounding region from the high point.

More sites in Maryhill, Washington

Maryhill Museum of Art. Just three miles from the Stonehenge memorial site is the Maryhill Museum of Art. Originally built as a European-style mansion, Hill converted the building into a museum after his dream utopia proved to be more difficult than anticipated. But with connections in the art world and European social circles, it didn’t take long to fill the space.

Today, the museum offers permanent exhibits like a collection of Queen Marie of Romania’s items, hundreds of unique chess pieces and the Théâtre de la Mode collection, which features small mannequins dressed in the hottest styles from post-WWII France. It also consistently has temporary exhibits for visitors to admire.

The museum is open between March and Nov. 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Youth tickets cost $5, adults $12. Seniors 65 and older can get in for $10, and college students with ID can get in for $9. Children six and under are free.

Nearby state parks. There are several Washington State Parks around Maryhill, including Maryhill State Park, Columbia Hills Historical State Park and Horse Thief Lake State Park. With a Discover Pass, you can visit these parks and even camp out.

Maryhill Loops Road. Hill didn’t just spend his time constructing buildings and towns. He was passionate about modern road systems and wanted to prove that the Northwest could be home to these advanced systems.

Hill built many modern roadways in the Pacific Northwest. But in the town of Maryhill, he built Maryhill Loops Road to emphasize his point. The winding road is only open to vehicles a few days a year, usually reserved for pedestrians and bicyclists wanting an extra challenge.

Maryhill Loops Road has also been home to the largest North American gravity sports festival, the Festival of Speed. It was reworked into the Showdown at the Loops in 2016.

Wineries and vineyards. The Maryhill Winery has award-winning selections, an upscale tasting room and great customer reviews. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. It was honored as the 2014 Winery of the Year at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, and resident winemaker Richard Batchelor was crowned Winemaker of the Year at the Indy International Wine Competition in 2013 and 2018. In total, the winery has received over 3,000 award recognitions.