At the end of S.W. 2nd Street, there is a trail that leads to a little bit of land at the confluence of the Marys and Willamette Rivers called Shawala Point. If you park and walk under the Highway 20 overpass, you might just walk by it. But, if you go in early spring and stop where the cement trail curves, you will be rewarded with a perfect view of the rivers’ confluence. There, you are standing on Shawala Point.
Turn your back to the river and you will be looking at small section of land covered with tall grasses and wildflowers. This area was once the summer camp site of the local Kalapuya Band, part of the the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. They called the Corvallis area Tcha Peenafu, “Place Where the Elderberries Grow."
Stop at the sign near the parking lot and you will learn that this bit of protected land was used as a mill site after it was claimed in the 1800s by Euroamericans who evicted the Kalapuya. It was purchased by the city of Corvallis to use as a highway site in 1955. Those plans were abandoned and today it is designated a city park to honor the Marys River band of the Kalapuya.
If the area has not yet been mowed, you can break trail over to a clump of trees where you will find a stone monument to the Kalapuya and their history in Tcha Peenafu. It is special to stand in this spot, remembering a past and the people who lived here.
I give this brief history of this little known place because there will be a couple of local events held at Shawala Point you might like to visit.
My friend, Traci Mc. Merrit has arranged with the city to mow an 80-foot labyrinth in the grasses of Shawala Point. She has done this before in conjunction with World Labyrinth Day, the first weekend in May. But, this year she is going to mow early to also celebrate Earth Day on April 20.
Traci stunned me recently when she told me that every human culture, no matter which continent, created labyrinths to walk, to trace with a finger, or to follow with one’s eyes. They don’t all look the same, but their purpose seems to be universal. You enter a labyrinth to find yourself.
Put the dates on your calendar. Traci will be there April 20, with a table at the Earth Day Planet Palooza event. The labyrinth will be open for self guided walks.
On May 4, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., she will be at the labyrinth with fellow artisans hosting the World Peace Walk-As-One at 1.
Feel free to stroll down to Shawala Point any time you are looking for some mindful moments in a very special place.