Each year, the Willamette River Festival has brought together members of Kalapuya People and the Citizens Planning Committee of the Whilamut Natural Area for a tour of the Talking Stones. The Talking Stones were designed as educational and cultural reference points located throughout the Whilamut Natural Area, to reintroduce the Kalapuya language and connection to the land.
This year, the Festival is encouraging residents and visitors alike to explore and experience the history and culture of the Whilamut Natural Area by completing a self-guided tour of the Talking Stones and the Whilamut Transportation Crossover Mural, by artist Susan Applegate.
The Talking Stones were installed in December 2002 in the Whilamut Natural Area of Alton Baker Park. Quarried from a basalt deposit in traditional Kalapuya territory, the Talking Stones were designed to serve as educational and cultural reference points, as well as being beautiful art objects. The stones reintroduce words of the Kalapuya language onto land where the people once hunted, and onto waters that carried their canoes. Now the land is part of Alton Baker Park, a primary open-space component of the Willamette Greenway. In September of 2002, the park’s eastern 237 acres were given the name “Whilamut Natural Area” in recognition of the environmental ethics of this area’s first people and their descendants.
More about the Whilamut Transportation Crossover Mural
The Whilamut Transportation Crossover Mural, finished in 2013, is among the largest anamorphic distortion murals in the nation. Artist, Susan Applegate, drew the image and graphic designer, Niki Harris, configured it to be anamorphically distorted so that when laser carved into the 30 degree slanted concrete footing of the Whilamut Passage Bridge (spanning the Willamette River which carries the I-5 traffic) it would appear as though it were standing more or less perpendicular to the canoe canal that borders its base and the jogging path on the other side. The mural can only be seen from the canoe canal and jogging path.
It’s all connected! Whether you live in Eugene, Springfield, or somewhere in between, our waterways are connected and we all need clean water! During the week of Willamette River Festival, you can take a “self-guided” geocache tour of Downtown Springfield to enjoy the UpStream Art Project stormwater murals, and the Mill Race Path, accessible from the Booth Kelly Trailhead. You will observe stormwater restoration management in action along a wildlife corridor, and enjoy more than 21 murals, including artists in action, painting new murals on Saturday, August 22.
The Mill Race Path was completed in 2017 as part of an environmental restoration effort east of the former Booth-Kelly mill, started in 2009 in an effort to preserve wildlife habitat and improve water quality. Along with the Mill Race Path, the City of Springfield also built a new stormwater treatment plant near the Booth-Kelly trailhead.
While listening to the Meadowlarks call and looking for lupine enjoy a fun educational activity on the importance of the wetlands! The Tsanchiifin Trail is a 1/2 mile walking tour through the wetlands, ADA accessible, and a great chance to explore a new part of Eugene.
Directions: To get there, navigate to 4701 W 11th Ave, Eugene, OR 97402 – behind the tow company there is a gravel lot. Park there and walk over the bridge to the bike path and Tsanchiifin Trail Sign to start. Download the WREN Tsanchiifin Trail Tour Maphere.
Willamette Resource and Educational Network is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to practice and promote land stewardship through education, partnerships and scientific research. Located in the West Eugene Wetlands, home to hundreds of plants and animals and over 3,000 acres of wetlands and uplands, we pride ourselves in providing opportunities for community members to engage in educational programs, conservation projects, research, and partnerships. Click here to learn more about West Eugene Wetlands.