Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sheridan State Park expedition

Sheridan State Park


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Today's adventure takes us back out to the Columbia Gorge, this time to little-known Sheridan State Park. Like a lot of obscure places I've covered lately, it's obscure because there's not a lot to it. It was a little forested wayside on the original Gorge Highway, and it became inaccessible for many years after the old highway was replaced by I-84. The section of old highway between Eagle Creek and Cascade Locks was restored for bikes and pedestrians a few years ago, so you can once again visit the park if you're interested.

Sheridan State Park

I had actually heard of the place before; old guides to the gorge highway that I'd read mentioned the place as one of the many parks and waysides along the road, and it occurred to me that several places on these old lists had vanished from most modern maps. Which, if you've read this humble blog for any amount of time, you'll know is ample reason for me to go looking for these obscure spots, even if there isn't much to see or do once I get there.

Sheridan State Park

To be fair, it's not like it's a bad thing that the park looks exactly like the forest around it. I'd sort of hoped for more, at least some more remnants of the old road, but no such luck. Still, although it's at most a footnote here, a lot of states would be really excited to have a place like this in their inventory. So there's that.

It seems to have always been a footnote, in fact; I've tried searching the Oregonian Historical Archive for info about the place, and have found next to nothing. The June 28, 1953 Oregonian published a catalog of roadside picnic areas describes it briefly:
Sheridan wayside,, 12 acres, 44 miles east of Portland on U.S. 30, Columbia River highway. Wayside picnic area with view of Columbia River gorge east toward Bridge of Gods and west toward Bonneville dam. Picnic facilities.

And that's it. If the place has appeared in the paper at any other time since the 1850s, the historical archive's imperfect OCR has failed to notice it.

I should point out that the park no longer has views (due to trees growing, presumably), or picnic facilities.

The park's directly across the river from Sheridan Point, a bend in the river named for Phil Sheridan. He's best known as a Civil War general, but before that he was stationed at Ft. Vancouver and fought Indians. The point, and (I think) thus the park, are named in honor of his role in avenging the Cascades Massacre, which occurred nearby. Hmm.

Sheridan State Park

It's not clear exactly where the park's boundaries are; I'd originally set out to locate it by tromping toward the GPS coordinates given in the Wikipedia article. That turns out to be in the middle of a talus slope some ways uphill and away from the road. It occurred to me while I was off looking for that spot that it would make for a really fascinating lawsuit if I managed to break an ankle or something. Meanwhile, the location of the sign shown here is indicated by the green arrow on the map above. Maybe both locations are in the park, or neither are.

Sheridan State Park

For what it's worth, Hood River County's GIS system lists the park as tax lot 02N07E1400301, measuring 9.8 acres. Nearby are two ODOT-owned parcels that may or may not also count as part of the thing: 02N07E1400300 (19.41 acres) and 02N07E1400100 (9.4 acres).

Sheridan State Park

Your best bet, probably, is to just walk the trail until you get to Cascade Locks, or at least to the tunnel under I-84, and know that at some point you had been in the park, and enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling. (Warm fuzzy feeling optional.)

Sheridan State Park

Sheridan State Park

Sheridan State Park

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