If you are headed east on I-90 stop and see the Wild Horse Monument!
Have you ever looked up as you are headed east across Washington, as you climb your way out of the Columbia River Gorge, and seen what looks like a herd of wild horses frozen in time as they were running across the hills? That is the Wild Horse Monument of Washington State.
The Wild Horse Monument, officially titled “Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies,” was created by Chewelah sculpture artist David Govedare in 1989 and honors the wild horses that once roamed the steppes of Eastern Washington. A total of fifteen horses make up monument, each one made from 1″ steel and weighing 1,200 lbs.
Perched high on a bluff over the Columbia River Gorge, just a few miles before the turnoff to the George Amphitheater is the often missed, Wild Horse Monument which is a tribute to the wild horses that once roamed across the plains of Washington State.
The monument is actually a series of life-size cutouts of wild horses made from 1″ thick steel. titled the Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies, it was created by David Govedare, and symbolically re-creates the Great Spirit turning loose a herd of wild horses above the Columbia River’s Wanapum Lake. The whole monument actually stretches for 200′ across the top of the hill overlooking the river and the town of Vantage.
Hiking to the Wild Horse Monument
The Wild Horse Monument is only accessible from the eastbound lanes of I-90 and with a short hike. A short but robust scramble, the trail is only one-mile round trip with a 150′ elevation gain, so bring your good shoes! The trip is definitely worth it, as the view from the top is majestic.
Once you are done checking out the horses themselves, and the myriad of graffiti on them, take a look out across the highway to the parking lot on the rim of the Columbia Gorge. There you will see a fantastic scenic overview location of the Columbia Gorge. The Quincy Columbia Gorge Overlook is an excellent stop when you are headed west toward Seattle.
When was the Wild Horse Monument built?
The first horse for the Wild Horse Monument was unveiled at Riverfront Park in August of 1989, but due to lack of funding, the first six of the ponies were not installed until October of 1990, with the remaining horses being installed over the course of several months after that.
Stop at the Wild Horse Monument
The next time you get ready to head east across the Columbia River, plan on an extra hour, bring some hiking shoes, and stop and see the Wild Horse Monument. It is a link to a wilder time before farms and development gobbled up the wide-open spaces that you really should stop and give thought to.