Oregon Experience: Sam Hill

Sam Hill Timeline

1857
Sam Hill is born May 13th in Deep River, North Carolina to a prominent Quaker family. The family is active in the anti-slavery movement and underground railroad.
1865
Following Civil War, family moves to Minneapolis, Minnesota after receiving threats because of their abolitionist activities.
1878-1881
Attends Haverford and Harvard Universities, earning his law degree.
1886
Joins legal team for James J. Hill's Great Northern Railway in Minneapolis. His work for the company will eventually bring him to the Pacific Northwest for the first time.
1888
Marries Mary Frances Hill, J.J. Hill’s daughter.
1889
Daughter, Mary Mendenhall Hill is born.
1893
Son, James Nathan Hill is born.
1899
Sam begins a life-long passion for promoting good roads by becoming a founder and first president of the Washington Good Roads Association.
1902
Hill begins construction of a house in Seattle, Washington marking his formal move to the region.
1907
Hill buys 6000 acres in Klickitat County Washington and begins building the Maryhill farming community. The centerpiece of the estate will be Hill's three story mansion overlooking the Columbia River.
1909
Hill hires road engineer Samuel Lancaster to build roads at his Maryhill estate. Lancaster will apply what he learns at Maryhill to the more ambitious Columbia River Highway project.
1910
Expanding his good roads campaign, Hill becomes president of the Pacific Highway Association. The group promoted building a road from Washington through Oregon to California which will eventually become Highway 99.
1911
Effort to build highway on north bank of Columbia River fails and Hill turns his attention to persuading Oregon to build the road.
1913
In his effort to convince Oregon that building a road through the Gorge was possible, Hill shows Governor West and the Oregon Legislature his Maryhill roads.
1913
Legislature approves funding for the Columbia River Highway and construction begins.
1916
Columbia River Highway is completed.
1918
Hill begins construction of Stonehenge Monument at this Maryhill estate as a memorial to local men who lost their lives in World War I.
1919
Hill begins transforming his failed farming community into the Maryhill Museum of Art which he hopes will become an oasis of art and culture in the region.
1921
Dedicates Peace Arch in Blaine Washington commemorating peace between the U.S. and Canada.
1926
Queen Marie of Roumania dedicates Maryhill Museum.
1931
Sam Hill dies, February 26th in Portland, Oregon.
About Sam Hill
Read more about the man and his legacy.
Gallery
View Sam Hill’s traveling slideshow.
Timeline
Read a chronology of Sam Hill’s life and accomplishments.
Film Clip
View an archival film of the Columbia River Highway.

© 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting.