Friday, October 23, 2009

Milestone P14

Stark St. Milestone P14


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So here we have the last Stark St. milestone on our tour: Milestone P14 is way out on the far end of Gresham, on the campus of Mt. Hood Community College. It's near, but not quite at, the intersection of SE Stark and 257th Ave. / Kane Drive. The milestone is east of the intersection, on the south side of stark. There's a low tree-lined berm separating the MHCC parking lot from Stark, and the milestone sits on this berm between a couple of trees. Just a few steps east of it is a big greyish (or maybe green-greyish) utility box of some kind. It's bigger than the milestone and closer to the street, and may be easier to find.

Stark St. Milestone P14

The most convenient way to visit P14 is to park in the college lot just steps away from the thing. As far as I could tell, there's no parking permit system similar to what PCC and Portland State have, and you can park here without getting tased by a campus rent-a-cop. They usually have signs up for that sort of thing and I didn't see any. However, if you do run afoul of a zap-happy security guard, it's not my fault, and I hereby disclaim and renounce all responsibility, real or imagined, for anything that does or doesn't occur here, and you hereby accept that this is one of those inherent dangers that come from acting based on information you found on some random site on the interwebs. A random site with a peculiar and obscure name, no less, run by some random guy with a stupid anonymous nym he doesn't even like very much anymore and is seriously considering changing. Just so we're all clear on where things stand, I mean.

Stark St. Milestone P14

If worse comes to worse, you could always park at the gas station across Stark, or in one of the strip-mall parking lots across 257th. Although they're probably patrolled by predatory towing companies, come to think of it. So there's always TriMet, but the nearest #20 stops are a bit of a walk. Actually this is as far east as the #20 goes; at 257th it turns south and meanders its way down to the Gresham Transit Center. The area's also served by the #80 and #81, which I'm not very familiar with.

Basically the point of all of this handwringing is that I'm trying to conjure up a little excitement around P14, and it's not really working very well. Other than the college, the area is your basic suburban mix of fast food chains, drugstores, big box stores, a few offices here and there, and I'm sure it's perfectly nice and everything... but it leaves something to be desired in the (sub)urban exploration department. You could be anywhere, I mean, if there wasn't a milestone here to tell you exactly where you were.

Stark St. Milestone P14

The stone itself has a pronounced Pisa-like lean to it. If you've arrived here at the tail end of the hypothetical milestone pub crawl I keep going on about, it may help to be aware of this and know that it's not just you. You could probably do some trick photos like people do with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, where you pretend to hold it up, or push it over -- the difference being that your accomplice needs to stand behind the stone instead of in front of it to get the perspective trick right. Which you could easily figure out for yourselves if you were sober, which you aren't, because this is the last of 9 (or so) stops if you're just doing extant milestones, and the 14th of 15 otherwise. Which either way is a whole lot of stops. Speaking of which, there's what looks like a sports bar across from the college on 257th/Kane, or there's a Starbucks just west of here if you'd rather have some coffee at this point, which would be understandable.

Stark St. Milestone P14

The Stark Street Mile Markers blog argues that, as part of conserving and restoring the milestones, P14 should be reset in an upright position. I'd argue "not so fast" on that particular point. The milestone's so old that the lean itself may have some historic value worth preserving. I mean, it's one thing if it started leaning 15 years ago for no reason and it leans another degree or two every year. You'd want to correct that, obviously. But if, hypothetically, it leans due to an accident with an errant Stanley Steamer in 1903, the Northwest's first recorded DUI incident -- or possibly was the work of especially dimwitted Nazi saboteurs in 1942 -- you may want to leave it the way it is. Don't laugh; stranger things happen all the time in the historic preservation world. I'm not saying it should or shouldn't lean; I'm just saying the matter requires further research, and no messing with it in the meantime. There's no rush, after all. It's a rock, it's operates on geological time, and it's survived close to 130-150 years already, which is way more than we can say for whoever put it here.

Besides, I think I kind of like it this way. It's a distinguishing mark. It gives P14 a little character. It's almost jaunty, even. But then, I've been spending far too much time of late staring at old rocks. So it might be best to just ignore me. At least on this particular topic.

Stark St. Milestone P14

Stark St. Milestone P14

Stark St. Milestone P14

Stark St. Milestone P14

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