Every fall along a hillside on state Highway 18 in rural Polk County a smiley face appears when the needles turn yellow. It’s visible near milepost 25 on the highway, between the towns of Grand Ronde and Willamina.
But how did it get there?
The face is located on timberland owned by Hampton Lumber. The smiley face was designed and planted in 2011 by Hampton Lumber co-owner David Hampton and the company’s then-timberland manager, Dennis Creel.
While the eyes and mouth were planted with Douglas fir, the “yellow” of the smiley face was created by planting larch trees. Larch trees shed their needles or leaves every fall.
Planting crews used a rope to plot the circle and triangulate the location for the eyes and mouth. The face is about 300 feet in diameter.
Passersby will be able to see the smiling face every fall for the next 30 to 50 years, until the trees are ready to be logged and processed into lumber.