GPS: 45.521154° -122.743521°
John B. Preston was the surveyor who established the Willamette meridian and base lines that determine the location of the Willamette Stone. This survey was done in 1851 and originally a red cedar stake was placed to mark the location of the “initial point.” It wasn’t until 1885 that a engraved stone obelisk was placed to mark the location. Hence Willamette Stone, however after years of vandalism nothing above ground remains of the stone obelisk today. Here is a photo timeline of the changes due to vandalism and some articles from the Oregonian.
John B. Preston chose this spot to avoid the Columbia River for the east west base line and and placed the meridian just west of Vancouver lake
Willamette Stone reading BASE LINE (Photo 1943 Portland City Archives)
Willamette Stone reading WILL MER (Photo 1943 Portland City Archives)
1951-6-3 Oregonian “First Master Survey in Oregon Begun 10o Years Ago”
Sure must of been nice to get some recognition after 100 years but it seems to have attracted the wrong crowd. Shortly after this article was printed in the Oregonian the marker was “despoiled” by hooligans.
1951-8-13 Oregonian “State Police Hunting Vandals After Historic Marker Despoiled”
1951-8-14 Oregonian “Where the West Began”
1951-8-14 Oregonian “Sheriff Joins Vandal Hunt”
The bit of the stone was knocked off an left at the site.. It ended up being cemented back together. Notes in the Portland City Archives state that a support rod was not used to secure the pieces leaving it vulnerable to further damage. Around 1956 the remains of the stone were embedded in a 9 square foot slab of concrete with brass inlays and a plaque make it more park like.
1957-5-19 Oregonian “Heartland”
Willamette Stone after the top was knocked off, the rest was cemented together and embedded in a 9 sq ft concrete slab inlaid with bronze.
1967-6-24 Oregonian “Survey Stone Remains But Top Portion Missing”
1980-2-21 Oregonian “Tiniest State Park Big Historically”
Here is a Gunter’s Chain
Surveying using a Gunter’s Chain
You’ll see a plaque at the head of the trail to Willamette Stone State Park
Entering Willamette Stone State Park
The trail to the Willamette Stone just 500 feet down this paved trail
Willamette Stone State Park the smallest State Park within city limits in Oregon
What’s left of the Willamette Stone is now planed down flush with after being vandalized over the years. This is the second plaque, the last was pried from the ground and stolen.
Willamette Meridian inlay
Willamette Base Line