A few years ago we found ourselves in Brownsville, Oregon for the town’s annual Stand By Me day (many scenes from the the 80’s classic were filmed in Brownsville, including the iconic image of the four boys crossing under an iron truss bridge as they head out of town).
On our way into Brownsville, we noticed a large, white banner on an unusual looking two-story building made out of rock and cement: “Experience Oregon Art & History.” The castle-like building turned out to be The Living Rock Studios, a private museum that houses the collections and creations of late Brownsville resident Howard B. Taylor.
Inside the building, we joined up with one other family and received a guided tour of the building’s interior (with a brief stop out into the back lawn to examine a collection petrified wood and some noteworthy trees). Taylor’s daughter Nancy helped the the kids identify thunder eggs (the Oregon state stone) and used flashlights to observe different properties of various rocks and minerals.
Throughout the building, Taylor’s wood carvings, paintings, historic photos, and indigenous artifacts are on display. Note: There is a predominate underlying religious theme throughout the experience: “The main exhibit at the Living Rock Studios is a series of pictures made from thin slices of rock and lit from behind. These seven Living Rock Pictures depict biblical stories as Howard B. Taylor envisioned them. When lit from behind, the pictures become glowing illustrations that bring each story to life.”
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We also managed to find the answer to an earth cache themed geocache on the second floor (you will need to enter the building during normal hours of operation to find the answer required to log the earth cache). At the end of the tour, visitors are welcome to browse through a small gift shop and select from an assortment of rocks and minerals in various states of preservation and display.
Overall, the tour and exploration of The Living Rock studios lasted about an hour (the facility is great for elementary-age kids and up; with rocks, antiques, and a giant spiral staircase, toddlers might be a challenge). To extend a history lesson and learn more about the region’s early settlers, consider driving into downtown Brownsville and visiting the Brownsville Historic Pioneer Museum (aka the Linn County Historical Museum)
As you might suspect, The Living Rock Studios is featured on Roadside America. Read that story here.
The Living Rock Studios
Location: Halsey-Sweet Home Hwy 228, 911 W. Bishop Way, Brownsville, OR 97327
Hours: Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Cost: There is no set cost, but a donation of $3 per person is requested. We are unable to accept credit cards at the studios. Cash only please.
Large Groups and Scheduled Tours: Reservations are suggested for groups of 10+. To schedule a tour, call (541) 466-5814.