Saturday, August 30, 2014

Matrix Hill Park

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It's time for a rare suburban adventure here on this humble blog. We're headed to Beaverton's Matrix Hill Park, a high point on Cooper Mountain just off Murray Blvd., directly uphill from the new mini-Walmart. The Walmart location was previously a (late, lamented) Haggen grocery store, and long before that it was a rock quarry owned by the Cobb Rock Co. The steep cliffs left over from the quarry days result in sweeping views to the south and east. Granted you're just looking at miles and miles of suburbia, but you can see quite a lot of it from here. There's a bit of a view to the north too, but you're better off going to nearby Sexton Mountain Meadows Park if you really want a better look at the suburban jungle of central Beaverton.

Since it's out in the 'burbs, Oregonian coverage is spotty at best, so I only have a few bits and pieces of info about the place. If the database search function is to be believed, Portland's paper of record has mentioned it precisely once, in May 2001, in an article about volunteer efforts in Beaverton-area parks. However an OSU Extension newsletter from 2010 says the park had just opened to the public. That seems odd, but maybe the Tualatin Hills parks district owned the land for a long time without officially opening it to the public. I'm not really sure, but the path up to the viewpoint looks pretty new, so it's certainly possible. The park district's September 2011 board agenda includes a capital projects list, showing they were spending about $40k per year on renovations here at the time. And a Winter 2010 Metro newsletter showed lots of volunteer events to pull invasive blackberry bushes here.

The park's also mentioned briefly in a 2013 US Fish & Wildlife study, "Willamette Valley Conservation Study: Nature-based Recreation and Educational Opportunities and Underserved Areas Assessment", but it's simply listed as "Existing opportunity identified in spatial data", which I think means they noticed it on a map and didn't investigate it further.

What I really want to know, and what nobody is telling me, is where the name "Matrix Hill" comes from. It's obviously not a native Indian name, nor is it likely to be a pioneer-era name. The first mention I've seen of the name was in 2001, which is a couple of years after the movie The Matrix came out. I'm really hoping it's not named after the movie. I mean, my first guess would be that some clueless polo-shirted real estate developer of the 80s or 90s wanted to build on the hill, and came up with the name independently because he thought it sounded high tech and upscale. This seems plausible because developers are always a rich source of cheesy place names.

But just suppose the park district had asked the public for suggestions, circa 2001 or so; maybe they put the suggestions up for a public vote, and allowed online voting. And suppose that a group of Matrix fanboys decided to troll the vote, and the district was somewhat less than tech savvy and never caught on to their l33t h4x0r script kiddie sk1llZ, and the rest is history. I have zero evidence to back this idea up, so it doesn't even count as a proper theory. But at minimum it would make a great urban legend, so feel free to repeat it if you want to. Be sure to add that we're lucky "Matrix Hill" eked out a win, as a rival tribe of fanboys was rigging votes in favor of "Park-Park Binks".

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