Among the many itineraries in Oregon, you cannot help to consider those tied to the discovery of the movie locations of many cult movies to reckon planning a journey to this wonderful state of the Northern Pacific.
I mean movies and feature films shot in Oregon (renamed – rightly – the Hollywood of the North by many people) which made the history of the American movies. The Goonies – here you can find the complete movie tour – Shining, Twilight, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and many other ones.
Not many people know that near Eugene in the Lane County, in the area included between Brownsville and Cottage Grove – the small town famous for the Old Covered Bridges Trail, the trail crossing over 20 old covered bridges – between 1985 and 1986 the major part of the outsides and the scenes of another unforgettable movie (one of my favourite ones, I admit it) were shot: Stand by me.
Today at a distance of 30 years it’s possible to follow alone – over a half day – a path including a good part of the locations used, included those made famous by the movie’s playbills and the most famous scenes.
Down here there’s my very personalized itinerary – as always based on my direct experience – any information and the practical tips to go over it again at the best optimizing times.
Stand by me is a 1986 movie by Rob Reiner loosely based on “The body”, one among the tales of “Different Seasons”, a collection of novellas by Stephen King (1982).
A simple story without time – made of feelings, friendship, growth and values – set in the small village of Castle Rock (the actual Brownsville) in Oregon.
There are 4 young protagonists: Gordie, sensitive and sad (due to the sudden death of his father), aspirant writer who as an adult becomes the voice over of the movie; Chris, a difficult boy who will find the redemption way – played by the promising and unforgotten River Phoenix; Teddy, weak character tied to a violent and at the same time beloved father; and the insecure, clumsy and awkward Vern.
The 1959 hot summer, the suggestive landscapes of Oregon, the speeches, the quarrels, the fights and the adventure the guys live – the leaving searching for the missing body of a boy of their own age dead under a train, hope to become heroes some day – act as watershed between the childhood and the beginning of the adult age, defining the way, the reaction’s ability and the character of each of them.
The musical background gives the shudders. It’s the movie director’s favourite song – Stand by me (1961) by Ben E. King. It’s so strong and evocative so that at the end of the filming it gave the definitive title to the movie.
All the rest is story, memories and emotions. Really many, intense, bursting and unavoidable emotions.
“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve…Jesus, does anyone?”
(An adult Gordie, final scene)
The movie tour cannot help to start from Brownsville, the Castle Rock of the movie, the small town where the protagonists live and move in the initial and final part of the movie.
The small town is little over a crossroads, plus some secondary roads, and it’s full of references to the main scenes.
If you have loved “Stand by me” or simply you have watched the movie, you’ll recognize every single corner of Castle Rock, starting from Gordie’s initial walk, the iron bridge at the entrance of Main Street seen in the unforgettable scene of the return to the town, then the gun between Gordie and Chris as far as arriving the farewells – at the end of the movie – with Teddy and Vern.
Some useful addresses:
At 325, Fisher Street you’ll run into Gordie’s house, today it’s private occupied but you can take photographs from the outside.
Going up the hill along School Ave you’ll arrive to the place where the House on the tree rose: you’ll recognize easily the place and the view of the small town.
Going out Brownsville you’ll reach the Row River Trail, the trail taking to the first railroad bridge crossed by the guys. It’s located in Jenkins Rd-Layng Rd, Cottage Grove.
On Territorial Hwy, near Junction City, you’ll run into the Quidaciolu’s Grocery Store – today abandoned – where the four guys do the shopping before leaving for their adventure.
In the end if you are looking for the unforgettable scene of the Railroad Bridge – you find it in the video below – that one shot on the Lake Britain, you have to go a well bit southwards, in California.
The bridge and the lake are located at Eagle Mountain Ln, Burney, CA 96013, near the Lassen National Forest.
As I was writing before, the itinerary can be done over a half day.
According to your personal interest towards the movie, you can reckon to explore Brownsville – and its neighborhoods in detail – asking for a specific map at the Visitor Center, then looking for the secondary locations of the movie, almost all can be still visited.
In Brownsville you can also decide to stop for lunch at the picturesque and very central Randy’s Mainstreet Coffee, an old diner crowded only by (very kind) locals (maybe you can ask them for further info about the locations to visit).
It’s advisable to wear comfortable clothes, maybe layers clothes, and trainers.
Pay attention in the isolated areas of the railroad and the bridges used for the filming: you could run into cliffs and slippery ground and above all don’t cross the no entry barriers where unsafe traits are signalled.