You Can the Wild Horses Monument it from I-90, Just East of the Columbia River Bridge
Just before driving onto or off of (depending on your direction of travel) the I-90 bridge crossing the Columbia River between Quincy and Vantage, Washington, you can see the silhouettes of wild horses up on a hilltop. They’re running, yet they never move, and they are always there. This isn’t a riddle–it’s just the wild horses monument.
You, keen-eyed reader, may have noticed that I didn’t capitalize “wild horses monument” as should be done for a proper name. That was intentional, I’ll have you knw. I do write and edit for a living, you know. I was just being clever by keeping it lowercase, you see. Fiendishly, demonically clever.
For, you see, the roadside sign may call it the Wild Horses Monument, and that may be what it’s listed as on Google Maps, but according to the Washington Trails Association, it’s actually named Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies. So, the latter deserves the distinction of capitalization.
(Do you SEE how clever I was being, now? Do you SEE?!?!)
Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies, less interestingly called the Wild Horses Monument, is an incomplete art installation started in 1989 by David Govedare, of the Chewelah tribe (White Hawk wrote a history of the people here).
The final project is supposed to have a basket tipped over on its side, from which the horses are running. Grandfather, being (to my understanding) a concept for the primeval natural god that creates the world, has tipped the basket over and let the horses loose.
It should be pretty spectacular at completion, but I rather like the incomplete version up now, as well. I prefer the Grandfather Cuts Loos the Ponies name over the Wild Horses Monument and think changing it was a mistake. It’s far more interesting, poetic, and intriguingly unexpected. But, ain’t no one caring what name I prefer, so the point is moot. It’s the Wild Horses Monument, for all intents and purposes.
Hiking up to the Wild Horses Monument
There’s a parking lot at the base of the sculpture, which is on top of a steep rise. There’s also a trail up to the monument itself. This affords beautiful views of the Columbia and surrounding landscape, but it also exposes you to the graffiti that idiots have added to the artwork.
The climb is steep but very short, but the earth is loose, which makes the walking somewhat tricky. Making the climb (which you can freely assess from the parking lot) is kind of a mixed bag, really. You get a pretty view of the surrounding landscape and you get to feel like you’re running with the horses, but you also have to see the graffiti garbage on the sculptures.
I thankfully didn’t see anything profane or not-safe for children, but it is a visual annoyance for sure and detracts somewhat from the purity of the art.
The Wild Horses Monument piece is just off the highway, easy peazy, and worth the stop in my opinion. The sense of motion that Govedare created is amazing. This is exceptional art.
Happy nomadding, friends.