WILLAMETTE STONE STATE HERITAGE SITE
Every bit of Oregon (and the United States, for that matter), is divided into a grid. At several places across the nation, the government established a land survey starting point (called a meridian) and drew the grid lines from there. What is the Willamette Stone? It's the starting point for all the land surveying west of the Cascade Mountains in both Oregon and Washington. It's the "zero point" for the Willamette Meridian.
After a short walk down a hill in the park, you can see, touch and read about this important marker.
Located in the West Hills of Portland, Oregon, this significant site marks a historical surveying achievement. In 1851, John B Preston was appointed as the first Surveyor General of the Oregon Territory by President Millard Fillmore. His primary task was to establish an initial point for land surveys within that territory.
Preston selected a spot on top of one hill from where he could see both Mount Hood and Mount St Helens clearly - which is now known as Willamette Meridian Point or Initial Point. From here all public lands in Washington and Oregon were surveyed using two lines: The Willamette Base Line running east-west; and The Willamette Meridian line running north-south.
The original marker placed at this location has been replaced several times due to vandalism over years but it still remains an important landmark today with its own dedicated park area established around it since 1945 when local citizens donated surrounding property to preserve its significance.
In recognition of its importance not only locally but also nationally regarding land distribution across these states during westward expansion era following Louisiana Purchase agreement between US & France (1803), National Geodetic Survey designated this place as historic monument under name "Willamette Stone" back in 1988.
Today visitors can find interpretive panels explaining history behind establishment along with replica brass disc marking exact position where original stone once stood before being stolen decades ago while actual replacement made out granite sits securely inside nearby protective shelter ensuring preservation against further damage caused either naturally through weather erosion or human interference such theft/vandalism etc., thus continuing legacy left behind more than century earlier by those pioneers who helped shape future development throughout Pacific Northwest region based upon measurements taken directly off their work conducted right here atop what's become affectionately referred simply 'the rock'.