March is Women’s History Month! Oregon State Parks is grateful for the innumerable contributions women have made to America and Oregon. Help us celebrate their achievements by visiting one of the state parks named after notable women from Oregon’s history.
Jessie M. Honeyman was a prominent advocate for the outdoors in the early 20th century. Honeyman, a native of Portland, campaigned for early state parks and scenic preservation. She was also a supporter and guide to Samuel Boardman, the first Oregon State Parks Superintendent.
Today, Honeyman is one of the most beloved parks on the central coast. Visitors can go for a swim or hit the dunes for some sandy fun. It’s a popular campground and five miles of trails surround two freshwater lakes.
Maud Williamson was a prominent Willamette Valley landowner in the early 1900s who understood the value of protecting Oregon’s natural places. She donated 20 acres of her land to the state in 1937, in memory of her mother. The original farmhouse that Maud lived in is still on the property today.
Maud Williamson State Recreation Site is a cozy day-use area just north of Willamette Mission State Park. The site is ringed by tall Douglas-fir trees and features a covered picnic shelter, volleyball court and horseshoe area.
Muriel O. Ponsler was the wife of J.C. Ponsler; the couple owned a large chunk of land on the central coast nearly 100 years ago. During the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps was working to develop parks and waysides along the coast and J.C., now a widower, wished to honor the memory of his beloved wife. He donated one of the best ocean views on his property to the state in 1938.
That viewpoint is the prominent feature of this small, two-acre wayside off Highway 101, located 16 miles north of Florence. The overlook offers an expansive view of the Pacific and has easy access to a 5-mile beach.
The Portland Women’s Forum consisted of representatives from prominent Portland women’s organizations in the mid-twentieth century. The group took particular interest in preserving the Columbia River Gorge and eventually purchased the viewpoint land, with the intent to share the wonderful vista with generations of visitors. The forum donated the land to the people of Oregon in 1963.
Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint is arguably the best viewpoint in the entire gorge. It also offers a unique glimpse of Crown Point State Scenic Corridor and its famous Vista House landmark. We recommend stopping by the viewpoint on a summer evening to watch the sunset paint the gorge with orange hues; it’s a sight you won’t forget!
Sarah Helmick was a western pioneer, arriving in Oregon in 1845 via the famous Oregon Trail. She and her husband, Henry, acquired land along the Luckiamute River in the Willamette Valley, where they spent the rest of their lives farming and raising a family. In 1922, an aging Sarah donated 5.46 acres of her land to the state for recreational development. It was the first land donation of its kind in Oregon and is considered the founding of the Oregon State Parks system.
97 years later, Sarah Helmick State Recreation Site has grown beyond that modest 5.46 acre donation. Other nearby landowners gave land to expand the park to its current 81-acre footprint, but it remains a quiet, unassuming picnicking site along the river. The park’s humble setting seems to clash with its historical significance—Oregon’s first state park—but it’s an effective reminder of the Oregon State Parks system’s humble origins.