Petersen Rock Garden

Rasmus Petersen was a teenager when he immigrated from Denmark to America around 1902 and settled in Central Oregon between Redmond and Bend.  He worked the family farm and it wasn’t until the age of 52 that he embarked on a new and somewhat eccentric project:  He collected an incredible variety of rocks and shells and with the help of concrete started building miniature houses, churches, palaces and bridges.  The amazing thing is how far he took it all!  He continued to expand his creative vision until his death in 1952.  Since then, the 4-acre site has remained in the family and has become known as a folk-art roadside attraction drawing thousands of visitors.  I’m grateful to the friend who told me about this unusual rock garden.


Once I took the exit from 97, this southward view of the Three Sisters gave me a morning wake-up splash of awe!


As I was positioning myself to photograph the mountains, I almost stepped on this pretty (and harmless) gartersnake, one of several who were enjoying the morning sun on these rocks.


I was the only visitor when I pulled into the large parking area. This handsome rooster came to greet me.


And he made sure I was paying attention to him!


And along came a peacock. There are 6 or 7 peafowl wandering the grounds. I was absolutely delighted and, as you will see, mostly enjoyed photographing THEM!


The lady, a quiet beauty in her own right.


All the visible rocks are of some volcanic or oceanic origin and extraordinary in various ways. It’s hard to imagine the sheer logistics of bringing them all home. All rocks used are from the local area.


Petersen’s structures express perhaps a longing for the stone cathedrals and castles he knew as a youth in Europe. I personally also left these behind in my youth, and I do miss them.


Pick a color! The chairs were set up for something, I know not what, but they made a pretty picture.


The heat spell was over now, it was a lovely cool morning, and this gorgeous creature strutted past me like the most glorious king of all time!


And I followed.


Finding a rock like this on the ground would be amazing and you would keep it on your shelf to admire – but there are hundreds of such beautiful rocks here of all colors and textures.


A donation of 6 dollars per adult is asked for via the honor system.


This species of blue peafowl is originally from India.


Hello – another male suddenly puts on a show for the approaching peahen. I’m caught right in the middle but get completely ignored.


Wow! That really is dazzling!


However, I’m not the intended dazzlee.


She is more interested in getting a drink of water.


Petersen built several pieces specifically as an enthusiastic tribute to his adoptive country. Wonderful translucent green rocks were used for the round roof.


There is even an amphitheater.


The peacocks do have a piercing call which they are quite liberal with. It sounds roughly like a distressed cat yelling “Help!”


I was focused on the two peacocks changing guard here. The top one simply flew down and the other flew up to take his place. Thus, I completely missed the HUGE sea shells in the foreground! I can’t imagine where these came from or that there even are such large shells!


They know the way to the museum! I didn’t go into the museum.


A capitol hill of sorts?


He had foraged somewhere out of sight, appearing to be an independent bachelor, but was friendly and willingly posed when our paths crossed.


I was actually already in my car leaving when I discovered an entire area I had overlooked, the MAIN showpiece! By the way, if you were wondering what a peacock display looks like from the other side, here it is!


Bridges take you onto a little island in this pond covered with waterlilies.


One super-extraordinary bit of rock! It looks like melted iron.


The “suspension cables” are made of concrete shapes covered with decorative rock.


A mini-bridge leading to a gingerbread house.


Petersen labored on this rock garden for a total of 17 years.


The waterlilies were just gorgeous.


It’s worth taking a lot of time. I spent 1-1/2 hours here and missed many of the details to be found.


A beautiful hunk of rock!


The garden has been listed since 2013 in the National Register of Historic Places. The pedestals of the flower pots are decorated with petrified wood.


I really enjoyed this place! It’s a celebration of all things eccentric, creative and determined. As I sit here laboring on my laptop, painstakingly stringing together yet another chain of photos into a gazette, tweaking this and that until it all fits the way I want, I don’t think I’m all that different from the old farmer. If my photos were rocks, I’d have enough to build a garden of this size! Next stop: Painted Hills

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