Stumptown Stumper

by: L.E. Baskow, The Willamette Stone, which lies at the bottom of a wooded path off of Northwest Skyline Boulevard, is the intersection for the lines of latitude and longitude that formed the basis of Oregon’s land surveys.

Every Friday in Stumptown Stumper, the Portland Tribune offers a trivia question and answer that helps you boost your Rose City IQ.

Q: What Portland landmark denotes the starting point of all land surveys west of the Cascade Mountains, in both Oregon and Washington?

A: The Willamette Stone, based at the Willamette Stone State Heritage Site, is the 'zero point' for the Willamette Meridian and Willamette Base Line - the point used to draw the grid for all streets in the region.

Why was that spot chosen? M.G. Devereux, park manager of Tryon Creek State Park, which manages the Willamette Stone site, said federal government officials chose that spot in the mid-1800s because both its longitude and latitude lines have minimal intersection with water in the immediate area.

Incidentally, Washington County's Baseline Road roughly follows the latitude line, and both lines form part of the county's borders.

Visitors can find the historic stone - located down a steep trail with a bench and viewpoint - just off a gravel turnout off Northwest Skyline Boulevard, about a quarter-mile past Mount Calvary Cemetery.

Next week's Stumper: For at least the past five years, observant Portlanders have noticed and snapped photos of a weathered-looking sign hanging on the lamppost at Southwest Ninth Avenue and Alder Street that read 'On the Miracle Mile.' Suddenly, one day about two weeks ago, the sign mysteriously vanished.

The city sign shop, city traffic engineer, events coordinator, bike program coordinator, Portland Business Alliance and Oregon Historical Society claim they don't have any clue to the sign's origin or its disappearance. It seems to be a true stumper.

So Stumptown Stumper is asking its loyal readers, Can you help shed light on this?

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