This is the most quirky yet fascinating art display anyone could ever see in the Northwest. The garden contains four acres of all kinds of structures built merely from local rocks mortared together. There are castles, replicas of historic buildings, miniature bridges, terraces, towers, lagoons, monuments, light houses, fountains, and more. Visitors that aren't interested in the folk-art can stop by to stretch their legs and enjoy the tranquility of the area, which is beautifully landscaped with lily ponds and picnic tables, lush gardens and small streams. Wildlife such as ducks, chicken, cats, and peacocks roam free around the property.
The structures and statues were created by Denmark immigrant Rasmus Peterson. In 1906, Peterson had settled in Redmond where he began his life as a farmer. The Cascade Mountains have seen a lot of volcanic activity, making this area a lush museum of rare and beautiful stones. Peterson started collecting rocks within an 85-mile radius of his home as a hobby. Some of his common finds include Oregon agates, petrified wood, obsidian, malachite, thunder egg, and jasper.
Over the years, Peterson's rock collection grew enormous. He finally used his collection to build monuments, bridges and miniature buildings in 1935. It instantly started attracting attention until in 1950, the place opened as the Peterson Rock Garden, spanning four acres around Peterson's farmhouse. Now, sixty years later, people from all around the world stop by to visit this eccentric display of large art.
Most of the art is very folksy. Peterson definitely honored his Danish roots, but he also paid respect to his newly found home with American styles. One of the most popular structures, a replica of the Statue of Liberty, has a plaque at the bottom that reads, "Enjoy Yourself - It Is Later Than You Think.''
Near the parking lot is the Peterson Museum, a cute space with items for sale and all kinds of rock and mineral specimens on display. The family keeps the museum and garden running for a small fee by donation. Peterson's step daughter, Mrs. Hegardt, recalls that "No sooner had he started (building) than people were telling him about the different kinds of rock they'd seen, and he'd go and haul it back and use it to make something.''
Reviews concur they haven't seen anything like it. Whether they leave breathless and marveling over the intricacy of the art, or they leave shaking their heads and wondering how anyone could have so much spare time, they pretty much all agree that they enjoyed the break. Visitors can spend as little has half and hour and as many as four hours in the garden, depending on their interest.
As time goes by, the garden continues to catch the attention of those that love anything unusual. It has been featured in books such as "Weird US,'' "Strange Sites,'' and "Eccentric America.'' Yet, although there is nothing else remotely like it, there's something almost comfortable about the structures. It's a trip worth taking that adults and children alike are sure to enjoy.
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