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Willamette Meridian


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GPS systems and satellites aside, the real reason people know where they are going on their travels, is because of a more than 100 year old system of land markers made of cedar stakes and chiseled stone.


You might not care too much about latitude and longitude, when it's time to travel to the grocery store. But ask an astronaut, a land surveyor or even a lost tourist with a navigation system in his car and the lines mean the world.


The Willamette Meridian is the principle survey line from which the rectangular surveys of Oregon and Washington were commenced. William Ives, Deputy Surveyor, commenced the survey of the Willamette Meridian from the initial point near Portland, OR. on June 4, 1851. The Oregon Base Line was chosen so that it would not cross the Columbia River and the Willamette Meridian would lie west of Vancouver Lake.


Passing this point on August 14, 1851, William Ives and his crew of 5 men surveyed the 110 miles from Portland, OR. to a point in Washington State on Puget Sound, 8 miles North of this point in 74 days and marking trees every half mile. Many of these markings may be found today.


The original Red Cedar Stake was driven by the first Surveyor General of Oregon, John B. Preston, who was appointed by President Millard Fillmore. The stake was replaced by a large stone in July 25, 1855. The stone was vandalized sometime in the 1980s and replaced with the current marker, as well as an accompanying bronze plaque.


This Willamette Stone State Heritage Site is located about 4 miles West of downtown Portland, OR. on Skyline Boulevard, in the West Hills, overlooking the Tualatin Valley and the Willamette River watershed.


The Willamette Meridian and Oregon Base Line, running from the Pacific Ocean to the Idaho border, were established as reference lines for the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) and the basis of land claims in the Oregon Territory. For the most part, land surveying, (your)property lines, and all land descriptions throughout Oregon and Washington are based on this PLSS.


Can you find the Willamette Meridian line in your area?

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This location and its history was discussed in detail in the Benchmarking Forums some time ago. Here & Here


There are even some historic photos that were found in the Salem Archives of the location.


It is a very cool place with lots of history.

Here is my son The Bean Himself at the Meridian.



Can you find the Willamette Meridian line in your area?


In my area the Meridian passes through a campground east of us and through the small town of Deerhorn and unincorporated spot in the road east of Springfield. It would be interesting to get out in the woods and see if I could find some of the blazes they left on trees.

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