In photos: 7 man-made wonders of Oregon

Peter Watson

Everyone knows that Oregon is home to some of Mother Nature's finest work, but there is also a plethora of manmade sights waiting to awe visitors to the Beaver State.
Tillamook Rock Lighthouse is one or Oregon's man-made wondersKevin Cass/Shutterstock

If you’ve ever spent some time in Oregon, you probably noticed it is a state that does a fine job of making creative thinkers feel welcome.And by creative thinkers, I mean the kind of people who believe no idea is too big or too small or too "out there" to give it a go and refuse to take no for an answer.

7 man-made wonders of Oregon

It’s that kind of aplomb that went into the creation of these 7 man-made wonders of Wisconsin, a list that could go on for pages but I culled down – rather unscientifically – based on the destinations and personalities behind those sites that are so beloved by residents and visitors alike.

I've added a few other wonderful sights at the end that are worth seeing for good measure as well.

Keller Fountain

Designed by the famous San Franciscan landscape architect who had designed the Lovejoy Fountain a few years earlier, Keller Fountain was completed in 1970. 13,000 gallons of water per minute cascade through its terraces and platforms, suggesting the Northwest's abundant waterfalls.
Keller Fountain Park at night in Portland, OregonAtmosphere1/Shutterstock

The concrete fountain became an instant city landmark and an internationally acclaimed open space.

In 1978, the fountain was renamed after Ira C. Keller (1899-1978), civic leader and first chairman of the Portland Development Commission (1958-72).

Keller pushed through the renewal plan for the South Auditorium area of downtown which included the construction of the Forecourt Fountain. It has been said that "it was Keller's enormous energy that made urban renewal work in Portland."

Transcendence (Portland's Salmon sculpture)

Transcendence is a sensational (if slightly bonkers) outdoor sculpture by Oregonian sculptor Keith Jellum, located in Downtown Portland.

The wonderful work of art depicts a fish flying through the brickwork above Southpark Seafood at the northwestern corner of Southwest Salmon Street and Southwest Park Avenue.

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse

Resting atop a sea stack of basalt, more than a mile off the banks of Oregon’s North Coast, the notorious Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, (nicknamed “Terrible Tilly”), is the stuff of aged lore. Although long closed to the public, she still stands today, though battered and bruised, a testament to her storied past.

Tilly’s story began in 1878 when a solid basalt rock was selected as the unlikely location for a lighthouse off the coast of Tillamook Head.

Construction took over 500 days and just weeks before completion in January of 1881, the sailing barque Lupatia wrecked in heavy fog killing all 16 of her crew members. The only survivor of the wreck was the crew’s dog. On January 21, 1881, Tilly’s first-order Fresnel lens was lit for the first time. Lightkeepers were assigned to duty, but for shorter than typical rotations — 42 days on, 21 days off — because conditions proved so harsh, both physically and mentally.

For decades, Tilly and her keepers withstood the ravages of the sea, but October of 1934 brought the worst storm on record, inundating the entire Pacific Northwest for four days. Tilly’s lantern room and Fresnel lens were smashed by boulders hurled by the storm. It was never replaced.

Petersen Rock Garden

Petersen Rock Garden is one of those roadside attractions that defies description. You’ve just got to visit, and you’ll be glad you did.

The garden started in 1935 as the pet project of Danish immigrant Rasmus Petersen. Petersen settled on a large piece of land off Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond and set about creating castles with moats, fountains, towers, bridges, even miniature models of famous buildings like the Statue of Liberty, all built from rocks, shells, bits of glass, and other found objects. Gravel pathways meander around the property, inviting visitors to see what curiosity will await them around the next bend.

And for decades, each monument to Petersen’s imagination has delighted the young and young at heart.

The Grotto

A natural gallery in the woods, The Grotto is an internationally renowned Catholic sanctuary set among 62 acres of botanical gardens offering a place of peace and quiet reflection for all people. Its full name is the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother and it is the Roman Catholic ministry of the Order of Friar Servants of Mary.

More than 100 beautifully sculpted statues, reflection ponds, spectacular views of the Cascade Mountains and award-winning architecture offer inspiration for all who visit. In 1983 the shrine was designated a National Sanctuary and over the years, more than ten million visitors have visited at The Grotto’s serene environment.

University of Oregon Academic Center

Located on the University of Oregon campus, the spectacular and modern John E. Jaqua Center for Student Athletes is named for the late alumnus and founding board member of Nike. The design of the Jaqua Academic Center is a marriage of art, graphics, and architecture, and one of the most striking buildings in Oregon.

The building’s first floor is open to the public, with a café, an auditorium, an atrium for public events, and a heritage space that recognizes past, present, and future student athletes at the University.The center contains over 40,000 square feet of space, including a 114-seat auditorium, 54 computer stations, 35 tutor rooms, 25 faculty offices, computer laboratory, graphics laboratory, 3D teaching laboratories, a library, and a café.

St. John's Bridge

Towering above all its southern neighbors, the 408-foot (124 m) St. Johns Bridge is the sole suspension bridge in the Willamette Valley.

Its dual gothic-style towers inspired the name of the neighboring Cathedral ParkBuilt in 1931, this historic green suspension bridge connects Northwest and North Portland. Built in 1931, this historic green suspension bridge connects Northwest and North Portland. The bridge’s picturesque dual, gothic-style towers inspired the name of Cathedral Park, believed to be one of 14 Lewis and Clark landing sites in the area.

A few more man-made sights in Oregon that are worth seeing

  • The Capitol Fountain in Salem
  • Yaquina Head Lighthouse
  • Pittock Mansion
  • First Presbyterian Church
  • Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art
  • Portland Japanese Garden
  • Oregon State Capitol
  • Yaquina Bay Bridge

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Peter Watson is a writer, photographer and adventurer. A keen trekker and climber he can usually be found on the trails of the Greater Ranges. He’s visited over 80 countries and is currently focused on climbing the seven summits – the highest mountain on every continent. Four down, three to go... He has also travelled extensively around the US developing a penchant for American backcountry, abandoned buildings and natural wonders en route.

Phoenix, AZ

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