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Oregon (Or): State Guide and Fun Facts

When did Oregon become a state?
February 14, 1859

First European to discover Oregon?
Sir Francis Drake

First Native American settlers:
Chinook, Sahaptin, Northern Paiute, Cayuse, Nez Perce, Klamath, Shasta, Kalapulyan, Molalla, Takelma, Clatskanie, Tillamook, Alsea, Siuslaw, Coos, Coquille

Square Miles:

US Rank:

State Flower:
Oregon Grape

State Bird:
Western Meadowlark

State Motto:
“She flies with her own wings”

Capital City

Salem – The capital city of Oregon was founded by settlers in 1842, 13 years before Oregon became part of the United States. Initially, European settlers moved to the area in order to set up their fur trading and trapping businesses,. The Oregon Institute (later called Willimette University) was built where Salem now lies, and after the institute was closed only two years later, the city of Salem was built in its place. Salem became the capital city of Oregon in 1851. It was previously located in Corvallis and in Oregon City for a short amount of time.
Today, Salem is home to just over 150,000 residents living at a density of almost 3,000 people per square mile.


What is Oregon Famous For?

1. Crater Lake
Crater Lake is one of Oregon’s most famous natural landmarks. The lake is located in Klamath County, Oregon and measures over 20 square miles in surface area. What makes the lake unique is its depth, which measures 1,949 feet deep at it deepest part. This makes it one of the ten deepest lakes in the world. It was created thousands of years ago by a volcanic eruption that was filled with fresh rainwater over hundreds of years. The lake does not have any tributaries that supply it with water or take water away; instead, water remains there until it evaporates or seeps into the ground at the lake bottom. New water is brought into the lake when it rains and when snow melts nearby.

2. Mount Hood
Mount Hood is part of the Cascade Range in Clackamas and Hood River Counties in Oregon. The mountain is a stratovolcano that lies quietly among the lush green landscape characteristic of Oregon. The mountain’s height measures 11,240 feet above sea level, making it the tallest mountain in the state of Oregon. The volcano is very seldom active. Over the past 2,000 years, there have only been three recorded eruptions, the most recent of which was in the mid 1800s. Today, scientists predict that there is between a 3% and 7% chance of the volcano erupting annually.

3. Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge is located in an area between Oregon and Washington in the Pacific Northwest. Its length measure 80 miles and at times it is 4,000 feet deep. Its formation dates back to about 15 million years ago, during the Miocene Age. The Columbia River was responsible for the slow erosion of the land which created the gorge. During the last Ice Age, the Missoula Floods contributed to the majority of the steep gorges that exist in the area currently. Today, the gorge is visited often by adventure-seekers looking for outdoor recreational opportunities and excursions.

What is Oregon’s Economy?

1. Agriculture – Oregon’s largest generators of agricultural income include greenhouse and nursery products, hay, ryegrass, wheat, onions, bentgrass, crimson clover, Kentucky bluegrass, peppermint oil, timber, potatoes, peak, snap beans, sweet corn, hops, beets and hazelnuts. Oregon also produces a large amount of beef cattle, milk, chicken eggs and young chickens.

2. Manufacturing – Oregon’s largest manufacturers produce items such as electronic equipment, computer display monitors, calculators, printer parts, microprocessors, plywood, veneer, particleboard and lumber. The state is also a leading producer of frozen fruits and vegetables, cakes goods, drinks and canned food.

3. Services – Oregon’s service industry is the state’s largest income generator. Among the leading service industries are private health care, hotels, law firms, repair shops, wholesale trade, exports and retail trade. The state also generates part of its GDP from the finance, insurance and real estate industry.


Oregon Historical Landmarks

1. Columbia River Highway – The Columbia River Highway is a 75-mile stretch of roadway that was constructed in the early 1900s to connect Troutdate with The Dalles. The roadway travels through several scenic areas including the Columbia River Gorge. Today, there are other main routes that connect the two cities, however the Columbia River Highway remains a National Historic Landmark in order to preserve on of the United States’ first scenic highways.

2. Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum – The Kam Wah Chung Company Building in John Day, Oregon is one of America’s only remaining Chinese trading posts. When Chinese immigrants came to Oregon after the US Civil War, they setup stores and apothecaries with traditional remedies for their own people. The building remained in service until 1952 when the last ancestors of the original owners passed away. Restoration work began in 1967 to return the apothecary to its former glory. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and is now in operation as a museum dedicated to its rich history.

3. Oregon Caves Chateau – The Oregon Caves Chateau is an American Hotel that was built and opened in 1934 near the Oregon Caves National Monument. The architect, Gust Lium, designed the hotel to blend with the natural environment. It is built to span a deep ravine located near the caves, and thus has a different appearance depending on which side of the building it is viewed from. From the main entrance, the hotel appears to be three stories, but from the ravine side, it is actually six stories. The interior of the hotel continues along the rustic architectural design theme with large fireplaces and open beam ceilings. The Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, the same year it was designated a National Historic Landmark.