SKAMANIA, Wash. — Close to this Columbia River Gorge city is a historic site that really stands out — 848-foot Beacon Rock next to the river. Some have claimed it is the second-largest, free-standing monolith in the Northern Hemisphere, or pehaps even in the world, with only the Rock of Gibraltar larger.
First documented by Lewis and Clark in 1805 on their way to the Pacific, the rock — now a state park — is seen by 92-year-old Roberta Tuthill of Hillsboro as one monument to the Northwest’s history and heritage. Deeply concerned about the erosion of the region’s Christian heritage, particularly ongoing efforts by some leaders to remove the statue of Oregon missionary pioneer Jason Lee from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Tuthill celebrated her 92nd birthday by honoring Lee at the top of Beacon Rock as she set a potential record as the oldest person to climb the monolith.
Not content with that accomplishment, Tuthill in September tackled the Multnomah Falls Trail on the Oregon side of the gorge, and she is now setting her sights on Pulpit Rock, a basalt pillar in The Dalles where Lee is said to have preached in the early 1800s.
Over a period of several weeks, Tuthill trained for the Beacon Rock trek by gradually extending her stamina to accomplish three miles total daily, in preparation for the two-mile round-trip climb. She claims to be only “66 years-and-counting,” testifying that her life was restored at 26 in a death’s-door visitation of Jesus, which has allowed the stamina needed for Christian and patriotic efforts.
Tuthill hopes to instigate petition drives in the five states that, along with most of British Columbia, comprised the Oregon Territory. Goal of the petitions would be re-identify Lee’s statue with each section of the territory designated, not just the state of Oregon alone.
“That change will demonstrate the vast area of his responsibilities as the mission leader,” said Tuthill.
She said she she enthusiastically supports efforts by Aaron and Kimberly Auer of ROAR (Restoring Oregon’s Amazing Roots) Ministries (roaroregon.org) to call attention to the region’s Christian past.
Tuthill herself has a blog site at Voice4Freedom.com and also has a Facebook page.