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Maryhill Museum: Artful wind power

Maryhill Museum of Art with spring lupines. (Photography: Nayland Wilkins)

This isolated museum, which sits on 5,300 acres located in Washington State’s Columbia River Gorge about two hours east of Portland, derives some of its annual income from leases for the 15 wind turbines that have been installed on its grounds, part of a huge grid supplying power to Los Angeles.

Essentially, it’s an endowment,” said Jim Foster, the past president of the Maryhill board. “It really gave us the freedom to go forward.”

Originally built by Sam Hill, who built roads and railroads in the Pacific Northwest in the early 20th Century, Maryhill’s eclectic permanent collection includes European art and Native American objects.

Maryhill’s creative sources of income are not confined to wind power:

Capturing the wind is not the only way Maryhill uses its land to benefit its bottom line. The museum brings in about $60,000 by leasing acreage for fruit orchards and vineyards. It earns about $20,000 each year by renting access to the Loops Road, a series of curving roads built by Mr. Hill that is now the site of the annual Maryhill Festival of Speed, a skateboarding contest.

If I’m ever in the neighborhood, I’ll be sure to stop by.

  • Ten Bears

    Also my backyard, though out of my radio footprint. The absolutely coolest thing about Maryhill is Stonehenge … a near perfect replication within miles of the same attitude as the original. It has been years since I’ve passed through (Biggs, OR, just across the river) without visiting: at least once or twice a year for at least forty years. My kids and I have camped there at solstice, as we do now with the grand-kids.

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