Monday, July 31, 2006

Mount Tabor (the other one)

Portland, Oregon, is one of only two cities in the continental United States (Bend, OR, is the other one) that have an extinct volcano within its boundaries. We love it so much we made it a park. How's that for audacity.

Mt. Tabor is named after the more famous mountain in Israel, but from the pictures I think you can see that it shares little with its namesake. This is a mostly idyllic place, with playground equipment, tennis courts, large grassy fields, statues and many winding paths through forests with large trees.

That it was a volcano was discovered well after it had been declared a park. The cinders used to make some of the roads inside the park came right from the cone itself. A good cross section of the cone can be seen behind the basketball courts.

Up in the grassy knoll at the top is a statue of Harvey Scott, editor of the Oregonian until his death in 1910. The statue was a gift from his wife. Wonder if any of the current editors are eyeing immortality in bronze. But we live in different times, where news print is underclassman in a world of mass media. Quick, how many of you even know what the name of the editor of the Oregonian currently is?

Mt. Tabor is a great place to spend an afternoon. It's right in the heart of the east side of Portland, and a quick drive from anywhere. Surrounded by neighborhoods, it is the quintessential urban park. I recently took my son and a couple of his friends there to kill some time and let them run free for a while instead of taking my house apart (free range children). It's actually quite relaxing for the adult. They found trails to run down, trees to jump out from wielding light sabers (plastic, of course) and merry-go-round to get dizzy on.

Directly behind the grounds seen above are the tennis courts where the cinder cone cross sections is. Can you see it? No? Sorry, I ran out of battery in the camera, otherwise I would have gotten a better shot.

Here is the USGS site on the volcano. Provided are air photo, map and some quick facts. Mt. Tabor (along with Rocky Butte, another volcano in Portland city limits) is one of possibly 50 cinder cones in a formation known as the Boring Lava field, which extends to the southeast of town and includes Powell Butte (which I've blogged before), Kelly Butte and Mount Scott.

This guys takes much better pictures than I do. Check out some of his colorful shots of the park.

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