JANUARY 27, 1997

 The Edwards Agency

Features

Duvall's big rock in tiny park

photo subject

The big rock in Duvall's Big Rock Park hasn't moved an inch since being dropped there by a glacier many years ago.
Photo by Oscar Roloff.

Oscar Roloff by Oscar Roloff
While newcomers will gasp, oldtimers hardly pay any attention to their unusual tourist attraction. The big gasp occurs at the intersection of Big Rock Road on the Carnation-Duvall Road.
   According to the late Meredith Owens, the park has the distinction of being the smallest officially recognized county park in the state. It's close to being the smallest park in the nation, Meredith had added, while we were going over the Big Rock's history.
   Besides the moss-covered Rock, there are two 81-year-old trees near the Rock. Duvall historian Ralph Taylor, now deceased, said the Rock weighs several hundred tons. Can't be moved.
   In 1909, a Y-shaped easement was made on each side of the Rock. It was officially enforced by a 1938 directive.
   Historian Taylor said that eons ago, the rock had been transported from Canada in a glacier that had been a mile high. When the glacier had retreated, the big Rock was dropped there for good. That event might have happened ten thousand years ago. That data remains uncertain, Meredith said.
   In 1916 Leo Leyde, a local pioneer resident, had planted the two trees for the potential beauty they'd bring, Taylor told me. At one time, the county had provided garbage cans for those who'd stop, eat, and take in the scene. Reportedly, some local citizens would dump their own garbage there, so the county pulled in their cans.
   Other niceties: There had been picnic tables and benches placed there for the picnickers. Shortly thereafter, someone swiped them, too. Though a car or two can park there, there's nothing else, not even a outhouse or a restroom. Once, a Duvall man offered his outhouse. No takers.
   Presently, it's the only vandal-free park in the state. There's nothing to take. It's like the Rock at Gibraltar. I've been there, too. Both are solid.
   Once, a local passerby observed a man with Oregon license plates trying to chisel bits of the rock to take home. The hard granite rock can't be chiseled, the swiper found out. After the first chisel, the hammer flew back into his face. He threw down his hammer and chisel and headed back to Oregon. Quickly, the local fellow grabbed both tools. Still uses them.
   Taylor related how one time, a California couple set up a tent there to camp for the night. It was illegal. Putting up their oversized tent, they snuggled down to sleep. Their stakes were in the road right of way. Several hours later, a car roared down the road and took away the tent. The pair cussed and left.
   I was fortunate enough to have met and interviewed Erma Leyde Stage, daughter of the tree planter, who told me she can recall how in the early 1920s, she enjoyed sitting on the rock and eating licorice roots.
   The local citizens keep a wary eye on not only the Rock Park, but also the two trees. They're fearful some nut might come with a chain saw to cut down potential fireplace wood. Taylor said once a man did stop for that purpose.
   The last time I stopped at the Rock Park was 25 years ago. Thus, last week, I went there again. No change, except heavier traffic. Thus I didn't tarry too long. I'm getting slow of step.