Susan Kayward, Petersen Rock Garden, Central Oregon

Susan Kayward, descendant of Rasmus Petersen, Steward of Petersen Rock Gardens

Petersen Rock Gardens in Redmond is the creation of Danish immigrant Ramus Petersen, who moved to The US in 1900 at 17 years old and settled in Central Oregon.

Over the course of his life, Rasmus collected local stones from an 85-mile radius surrounding his home. These colorful rocks included Oregon agates, obsidian, petrified wood, malachite, and jasper. Ramus started building with them in 1935.

He formed miniature buildings meant to evoke his native Denmark, and monuments to honor his new home – including a concrete American flag and Statue of Liberty. His rock structures are set on four acres of lagoons, bridges, lily ponds and streams.

The Petersen Rock Garden is managed by Susan Kayward and her family, a family member twice removed by marriage to Rasmus. Petersen was still adding to the rock garden when he died in 1952. A bronze plaque sits in front of the Statue of Liberty. It reads "Enjoy yourself: it's later than you think."

Petersen Rock Gardens was named one of the Oregon’s Endangered Places in 2011. The Endangered Places designation is part of the Historic Preservation League of Oregon’s new program to call attention to the state's historic treasures in need of the advocacy and support to save them from demise. The Historic Preservation League of Oregon received a 2011-12 grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust to support the Endangered Places program.