News Article

Stand By Me – Brownsville/Castle Rock, Oregon

Words by Ice Cream Man

Photos by Ice Cream Man

When I was 11-years old my dad took a couple friends and I to see Stand by Me. Since it was rated R, he had to buy us tickets then head back to work at Doo-Dahs in Cerritos Mall. We werent sure what we were in store for, or why a kids movie would be rated R but we sure were excited to see it.

You can imagine the impact Stand by Me had on me? Due to my dad being from Alabama (Roll Tide!) and my mom loving to go to flea markets and antique swapmeets, Ive always been into old and classic things. Mix that with an adventure that involves sneaking out with a bunch of friends and youve got a great idea of my childhood.

The movie starts with Richard Dreyfuss narrating the thoughts of the main character, Gordie Lachance, I was 12 going on 13 the first time I saw a dead human being. It happened in the summer of 1959 – a long time ago, but only if you measure in terms of years. I was living in a small town in Oregon called Castle Rock; there were only twelve hundred and eighty-one people, but to me it was the whole world. Ever since first hearing those words Ive wondered if Castle Rock actually existed. I heard years ago it was filmed in Lebanon, Oregon but upon further research, found out filming took place just south of there in Brownsville.

While in Corvallis for Knife and Jackies wedding, Knife, Kevin, and I hopped in Bessie and headed over to check out the town. Its been over 20 years since they filmed there so we werent expecting to find much that still looked the same. To our surprise, very little had changed and we instantly were transported back in time as we wandered around town talking to locals about the movie. The local history museum had some pamphlets detailing where scenes were filmed and our first stop on the self-guided tour through the small town was the park where they filmed the infamous pie eating contest with Lard Ass.

Right next door to the park was Gordies house which didnt look like it had aged at all. Our next destination was to try to find the treehouse where the boys would play cards and make fun of each other. The area where we were told it was had recently been prepped to sell and we saw a few trees that mighta been the one but it was hard to tell. Ive youve got a few hundred thousand bucks you can buy all the lots and have a great view of central Oregon.

On the way back to downtown we stopped off at a tire swing behind the local church then headed down an alley behind the Blue Point Diner. Thats where Chris Chambers (aka River Phoenix) hands Gordie a gun he stole/borrowed from his dad and it accidentally goes off. We picked up a bunch of knick-nacks around town then Knife snapped some shots of Bessie leaving downtown and driving over the same bridge the kids walked across coming back into town at the end of their adventure. If youre ever driving up I-5 just a little north of Eugene, you should stop by Brownsville and check it out. Not just for the Stand by Me stuff. Its a cool, small town and the park on the west side is beautiful.

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