Find out what it really means to play the horses or hit the slopes in Salem, Oregon.

Admire the artistry of 34 hand-carved horses or ride on sand dunes.

A young women sandboarding.
Sandboarding at Sand Master Park. — Photo courtesy of Sand Master Park.

Salem’s Riverfront Carousel

Some people visit to admire the artistry of 34 hand-carved horses; others come to appreciate the community buzz—but no one leaves Salem’s Riverfront Carousel disappointed.
The 34-horse, three-row wonder draws local and travelling crowds year round at its indoor location, which also hosts community events and holiday celebrations.

Salem’s Riverfront Carousel made its first revolutions in June 2001 and has since entertained families, groups and visitors with playful fun, while achieving something bigger for the community of Salem.
Hazel Patton, Salem citizen, was travelling in Missoula, Montana, in the 1990s and saw just how much impact that community’s Old World-style carousel had on bringing people together. She brought the idea home, and Salem’s community organizers and volunteers made it a reality.

Laura Tea-Pelly, volunteer program manager for the carousel, said the entire project from carving the horses to constructing the facility was a grassroots effort with no corporate funding.

“Now people come from all over the world to see the carousel and to celebrate community events,” she said. “We have a Halloween ‘Scarousel’ and Santa comes in on a train at Christmas."

“We also have large groups of artists crafting things out of wood on site. Many of them didn’t even consider themselves artists before they worked on the carousel, so it’s been great for the community in many ways.”

Sand Master Park

Sandboarding may have only gained national recognition in the U.S. during the past decade, but Sand Master Park’s owner Lon Beale, a.k.a. Doctor Dune, said he’s seen a photo of Marilyn Monroe sand-skiing in 1943.

The park, located in Florence, Oregon, has become the epicentre of the sport’s growth and promotion in the U.S. and entertains 25,000 visitors a month in the summertime.

“It’s really popular in Australia, the Middle East and Brazil, especially,” said Beale. “Here, most people who come just come to play and say they have a blast and don’t really care if they do well or not.”

Expect a workout, he adds, since there’s a hike up for every exhilarating ride down, but the best part is, even falling all day seldom results in injury.

“Sand is pretty soft,” said Beale. “And people who really want to get into it can take a lesson here and it will put them months ahead in their skill.”

Sand Master Park manufactures the three major sandboard brands on site and offers rentals and lessons, said Beale. Check out 40 acres of prime sand dunes, take a sand buggy ride or soar the skies with a helicopter ride over the park, which even offers RV parking and a garden picnic area.

Museum of Mental Health

Oregon State Hospital is home to the Museum of Mental Health—a 2,500-square-foot museum located in the hospital’s newly renovated but oldest campus building. Permanent and changing exhibits showcase and connect visitors with the history and present state of mental health issues, as well as the people who have lived and worked at the facility.

Featuring permanent exhibits about the hospital’s history and timeline, causes and treatment of mental illness, and a hands-on replica of an early ward room, the museum also pays tribute to its claim to fame as the filming location of the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, starring Jack Nicholson.

The museum is open year round and offers self-guided and organized tours.

Related Articles