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Thursday, October 30, 2003
Updated: November 4, 6:48 PM ET
Dreamparks of the Northwest

By Keith Eric Davidson
EXPN.com

Halloween, 1991. Portland skateboarders Bret Taylor and Mark "Red" Scott begin construction on The Burnside Project, what is to become the most legendary renegade skatepark in the country. With no experience and using their own money and labor, the pair handcrafted a revolutionary skatepark unmatched in quality to this day.

Hidden beneath a freeway overpass, Burnside is known throughout the world as one of the gnarliest, most creative skateparks ever built. The skaters who created it had total say in its construction from the beginning until its completion somewhere around 1995. Forgoing the normal time-consuming process of city council meetings and political red tape typical of city-built parks, skaters who were fed up with having no good parks to skate joined together and created their own.

Donald, Oregon: Just a bit south of Portland, this park is located in a little tiny farming community of 700 people. Ah, farmland and a gnarly, perfect backyard pool that cost $30,000 to construct and is perfect for Andy Harris leintaps. Go figure.
It's true that we are currently in the midst of a skatepark construction boom, but most of the free parks being built by city planners are nothing more than an excuse for the cops to kick skaters off the street. So the dudes in the Northwest figured if they want their parks done right, they had to build them themselves.

That was the motivation behind Dreamland Skateparks, Red's construction company in Portland, which today churns out hands-down the best parks in the world. He refined the crude construction techniques used to build Burnside and developed techniques specific to skatepark construction. One of his innovations is a hand-built trowel which creates perfectly smooth transitions. Rail by rail, bowl by bowl, he honed the park-building process.

The do-it-yourself aesthetic was also the motivation for Mark Hubbard—a critical member of the crew that built Burnside—to start his Seattle-based company, Grindline Skateparks. The end result: skateparks designed, developed and built entirely by skateboarders.

Bainbridge Island, Washington: Pat Duffy is back and ripping smith grinds in this island paradise — smooth concrete, amazing views, in the middle of the forest. This place is amazing ... and you can drive there from Seattle.
The parks these two companies create are, without question, the best skateparks in the world, and it's no surprise a majority of them are located in their native Northwest region. But the companies don't limit themselves to Oregon and Washington. Dreamland and Grindline build parks all over the world. Dreamland even built a private bowl in the Montana backyard of Jeff Ament, the bass player for Pearl Jam.

Anyone who has seen these guys skate understands why the parks they build are unmatched. They are some of the gnarliest skaters around. When they build a park, they make it big and challenging, something that won't become boring and outdated within a couple of years. They know once the concrete dries, it's there for good.

Their parks are trademarked with PNW-gnar like massive pipes emptying into huge pool coping-crowned pools, over-vert bowled-out cradles, rotating pillars, endless miles of concrete coping, hips galore, spines and perfect mini-pools. If you can dream it, these guys have already built it. And when they finish, they skate 'em like no one else.

Following the renegade assault of Red and company, skaters in San Diego (Washington Street), with the assistance of some Burnside locs, began pouring their own concrete under an abandoned freeway overpass. The Washington Street crew passed their knowledge along to skaters in Philadelphia (F.D.R.) and San Pedro, CA (Beanside), and they created some amazing parks of their own. Check out their work ...

Beanside: www.sanpedroskateparkassociation.org
F.D.R.: www.sas.upenn.edu/~blathrop/fdrsplash.html
Washington Street: www.washingtonstreetskatepark.org/default.asp

Reedsport, Oregon: One of the newer parks in the area built with this crazy, full-pipe funnel thing — the back end is tighter than the front — that Red from Dreamline did the loop in. Damn.
The Northwest Tour
The next time you find yourself, and your skateboard, in the Northwest, sample some free 'crete at 13 of the best-built parks you'll ever ride. Check out the photo gallery for a better look at these parks.

*Ashland, OR. Built in 1999, this one has a mini-snake run, three pyramids, a dot, lots of coping, a single six-foot bowl, a tall "punk wall" (jersey barrier) and a connected set of three bowls. Go to: www.skateoregon.com/Ashland/Ashland.html

Aumsville, OR. Giant interconnected bowl with hips, corners, spines and flawless transitions and coping hand-troweled by Red himself. Go to: www.skateoregon.com/Aumsville/Aumsville.html

Bainbridge Island, WA. Another island, another paradise. Grindline built a giant interconnected bowl completely crowned with pool coping. Go to: www.sleestak.net/parks/wa/bainbridge.htm

Brookings, OR. Another Dreamland creation, Brookings was finished in 2001 and has possibly the only a pool within a bowl and a not-so-secret-anymore secret superman jump. Go to: www.skateoregon.com/Brookings/Brookings.html

Burnside, Portland, OR. The O.G. park is still one of my favorites. If you can't make it in person, check it out on Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. Every year, in honor of its groundbreaking, Burnside holds a Halloween Skate Jam anniversary party. Go to: www.burnsideskatepark.com

Donald, OR. Dreamland created a replica of the famous "Nude Bowl", with real coping, super-tight transitions and stairs in the shallow. There's also a concrete mini-ramp with a pump hump in the flat. Go to: www.skateoregon.com/Donald/Donald2.html (the "old" Donald)
www.johnbracken.com/donald.htm (the "new" Donald)

Klamath Falls, OR. Killer Dreamland park which features four separate pools with cement coping, over-vert sections, two snake runs, mini halfpipes and moguls. Go to: www.skateoregon.com/KlamathFalls/KlamathFalls9.html

Lincoln City, OR. When it was built in 1999, Thrasher Magazine dubbed it "the gnarliest park in the world". Lincoln City just added a second roof-covered section, doubling its size. Go to: www.SkateOregon.com/LincolnCity/LincolnCity.html

*Medford, OR. Built by Great American Skateparks in 2000, this park has two bowls you could drive a school bus through. Go to: www.skateoregon.com/Medford/Medford.html

Orcas Island, WA. Located on an island in the uppermost western corner of the state, Orcas Island gets my vote for Grindline's most unique design. Over-vert concrete waves, pool coping, love seats, deathboxes and some of the most amazing natural scenery you've ever seen. Go to: www.skateorcas.org

*Reedsport, OR.
The newest park in the state, Reedsport opened to skate in September of this year and is home to "the funnel tunnel." Go to: home.att.net/~badskaters/sp-ree.html

*Talent, OR. Finished in 1998, Talent was the first park in southern Oregon and started the momentum for quality skate parks across the state. Go to: www.skateoregon.com/Talent/Talent.html

West Linn, OR. Grindline went a little overboard here, which is fine by me. This park is entirely topped in cement coping and is huge. Go to: www.SkateOregon.com/WestLinn/WestLinn.html

*Not built by Dreamland or Grindline.

If you or your city is interested in contacting Grindline or Dreamland, check them out at:
www.dreamlandskateparks.com
grindline.com/cgi-local/view.pl?view=index