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Another Portland Blog

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


In search of the Stone House (part 1)

I've heard rumors about the Stone House for a while now. Nothing too exciting- just that there's an ancient house made of rocks sitting in the middle of Forest Park*. As an impressionable PPS student, I may at one point have been told on an elementary school playground that the house leads to a parallel dimension or that satanists like to hang out there and teach cats how to smoke cigarettes. You know, the sort of BS that older kids make up on the spot to freak out those with ages still in the single digits. Despite these half-remembered rumors from grade school, I never bothered to seek the place out until an idle Sunday a few weeks ago.

Using a map from an old issue of Portland Monthly, I set out from Macleay Park along a trail that led past all sorts of pretty scenery like this:

And this:

And, uh, this:

I've lived in Portland most of my life but I've set foot in Forest Park a grand total of three times. I know, I know. If you're at all shocked by this statement, you're obviously not a local. Natural beauty? Meh. It's like growing up in Vegas. When you've spent your entire life around fake volcanoes, white tigers and pirate ships that sink every hour on the hour, they become as easy to ignore as your average strip mall. I was hanging around with squirrels in Tyron Creek State Park when you were but a glimmer in your father's eye as he complained about the lack of bike lanes in Los Angeles County.

So, yeah, a grand total of three times and during each visit I've encountered at least one discarded piece of clothing. How did that sock get there? Did a hiker decide to ditch their socks and commune with nature by going au natural but only from the ankles down? Was the sock used as a white flag to stop a squirrel gang war?

During my last visit it was a bra, which is both disconcerting and funny at the same time. Allow me to explain. The bra probably wound up there after two hikers started feeling frisky. Or it could quite possibly be, well, click here.

When you plop a gigantic forest in the middle of a major metropolitan city, it's bound to earn a Janus-faced reputation. For some Forest Park is a wonderful place to spend hours biking, letting your dog bounce around in the streams (which is against the rules) and, uh, boinking like bunnies. For others it's as creepy as a backdrop from the darkest of the Grimm Brother's Fairy Tales- a literal Black Forest where serial killers ditch bodies, hermits force their children to grow up under tarps and...satanists teach felines how to suck down Marlboros.

For me, the place has always held a eerie mystique that dates back to those days on the playground. After finally discovering the Stone House, my reservations about the place remain firmly in place.

So what did I find there? What secrets lie beyond the mysterious n' mossy stone entrance you see above? Was it anything like the "Blair Witch Project" or "Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown"? Maybe. You'll have to wait for the answers in part two of this rambling blog series.

I'll post it tomorrow. In the meantime, please enjoy this footnote. You may remember it from the first paragraph.

* During a long-ago recess at Hayhurst Elementary in SW Portland, a fifth grader claimed that this is how satanists spend the majority of their free time. I believed him but I was 8 at the time, gimmie a break. On the other hand, maybe this *is* what they do when they're not trying to organize a run at the Minnestota governor's mansion. To be honest, I've never met one.

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