Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Loll Wildwood expedition

Loll Wildwood

Memorial, Loll Wildwood


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Today's fabulous expedition takes to the rolling hills of outer SW Portland, to a spot the city calls "West Portland Park Natural Area", and Metro (and the local neighborhood association) calls "Loll Wildwood". Seems that Metro owns the land as part of its Greenspace program, but the city of Portland operates the park (to the degree that any "operating" occurs here), and both agencies have their own ideas on what to call the place. You'd think that this would be easy -- the surrounding neighborhood has long been known as "West Portland Park", and you'd think the park would've taken its name from that, or vice versa.  But when local agencies have turf battles -- or even worse, try to share nicely -- even the simplest decision becomes 12-dimensional chess, apparently.

If you look closely at the map, you'll note a city water tank on the upper left side of the park. This no doubt belongs to the city water bureau, which has its own system of what it calls "HydroParks", thus horning in on the parks bureau's turf a little. Whenever they get around to doing the HydroPark thing here, I fully expect the area to acquire a third unrelated name, and we'll be playing 12^3 dimensional chess instead.

Memorial, Loll Wildwood

My main interest was in a historical marker next to the park, which gives rise to the "Loll Wildwood" name. I assumed the park itself would be yet another chunk of generic forest, and I've covered a few of those already, plus I was unable to find a way into the place to see for myself. The idea behind Metro Greenspaces is to just buy land and sit on it for the long term, until funds to develop & maintain the place become available. They haven't gotten to this spot yet. I did peek at a few spots around the perimeter of the park, er, wildwood, looking for anything vaguely trailhead-like, but I didn't see anything that looked promising. Like I said, I had the place figured as generic forest, and all photos inside generic Northwestern forests look alike, so why take more? I mean, I'd be delighted if I'm wrong and there's something unique I need to go back and check out, and if there is please let me know. As it is, I took a few photos of the, uh, wildwood, from outside looking in, but strictly for the sake of completeness. Don't bother complaining to me that they aren't Fine Art, or that they aren't especially good photos. I'm well aware of that already, thanks.

FWIW, the city's vegetation summary page for the park is here. I tend to cover vegetation unit surveys because often they're the only detailed info the city provides about a given place, and they give a very broad idea of what to expect if you manage to find a way to wander in, which I didn't.

Loll Wildwood

But I digress, and I'd just started on about the historical marker. On the shoulder of SW 35th Avenue, near Arnold St., is this memorial to Ernest C. Loll, a Multnomah County Sheriff's Deputy who was killed in the line of duty at this very spot, back in 1935. The unusual detail is that he was on fish and wildlife duty, and was apparently murdered by bird poachers. The account doesn't explain what sort of birds the poachers were after; I'm not an avid birdwatcher, by any means, and possibly it's just my ignorance showing, but I'm unaware of any local birds worth killing someone over. But then, the market for ornamental feathers is not what it once was.

Every year on Peace Officers Memorial Day (on or around May 15th), the county sheriff's department holds a memorial ceremony here.  I ran across a small gallery of photos of last year's event. There's more history about the marker & the name of the park at (recently elected city commissioner) Amanda Fritz's blog. And there's a mention of Deputy Loll on this page at Ancestry.com.

Memorial, Loll Wildwood

Loll Wildwood

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