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Following exploration by the Spanish and French, in the 17th and 18th centuries, Oregon was mapped by the Lewis and Clark expedition in their search for the Northwest Passage. Starting in the 1830s, many groups of pioneers travelled to the state on the famous Oregon Trail, and the U.S. began joint settlement of the area with the United Kingdom. In 1846, the border between U.S. and British territory was formally established at the 49th parallel – the part of the territory that was given to Britain would ultimately become part of Canada. Oregon was officially admitted to the union as a state on February 14th, 1859. Today, Portland, Oregon’s largest city, is considered one of the top cities in the nation in terms of quality of life, and the state is also known as one of the nation’s top producers of wine, boasting over 300 wineries.

Date of Statehood: February 14, 1859

Capital: Salem

Population: 3,831,074 (2010)

Size: 98,379 square miles

Nickname(s): Beaver State

Motto: She Flies With Her Own Wings

Tree: Douglas Fir

Flower: Oregon Grape

Bird: Western Meadowlark

Interesting Facts

  • Due to the high demand for beaver hats and coats and unregulated trapping during the early settlement years, beavers were nearly eliminated by the mid-19th century. Since then, proper management has allowed the semi-aquatic mammals to flourish once again. Known as the “Beaver State,” Oregon features a picture of a beaver on the back of its state flag.
  • Beginning in 1836, roughly 12,000 emigrants made the 2,000-mile trek from Independence, Missouri, to the Oregon Territory. Heavily traveled until 1884, the Oregon Trail was the most used of all routes in the westward expansion of the United States.
  • Mount Hood, a dormant volcano that last erupted around 1865, is covered by 12 glaciers. At 11,239 feet, it is the tallest peak in Oregon.
  • In November of 1986, the 80-mile-long Columbia River Gorge, which traverses the border between Oregon and Washington, was designated the country’s first National Scenic Area. Since the mixture of cool marine air on the western side of the Cascades and the drier air from the inland basin creates a natural wind tunnel, the gorge is considered to be one of the best places in the world for windsurfing.
  • Oregon grows 99 percent of all hazelnuts produced in the United States. It is also the country’s leading producer of Christmas trees, with an output of more than 4.9 million trees in 2009.
  • Oregon’s Crater Lake, formed in the remnant of an ancient volcano, is the deepest lake in the United States.


Oregon - HISTORY

People have lived in the land of Oregon for thousands of years. When the Europeans first arrived in the land, there were numerous Native American tribes. Some of the major tribes included the Nez Perce, the Chinook, the Klamath, the Paiute, the Molalla, and the Cayuse. These tribes lived in cedar plank houses and used dugout canoes to travel the waterways. Many of them fished as the primary source of food.

Mount Hood by Unknown

In the 1500s, European explorers such as Sir Francis Drake spotted the coastline of Oregon, but did not set foot on land. Both Spain and Great Britain laid claim to the land. In 1792, American explorer Captain Robert Gray came upon the Columbia River and named the river after his ship.

In 1803, the United States purchased a large region of land from France called the Louisiana Purchase. President Thomas Jefferson sent explorers Lewis and Clark to map out the new territory. They travelled beyond the borders of the new purchase all the way to the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. They stayed there for the winter and built a small fort called Fort Clatsop.

Over the next several years more explorers and fur trappers arrived from the United States and Great Britain. Both countries laid claim to the land. In 1818, the two countries agreed to joint occupancy of the region.

Fort Clatsop - Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
from the US National Park Service

Starting in the 1840s, settlers from the east began to travel to Oregon Country using the Oregon Trail. Over the next 20 years, hundreds of thousands of people migrated west, many of them settling in Oregon. Eventually, there were so many Americans in the region that Great Britain gave up the land. The territory became part of the United States through the Oregon Treaty in 1846.

The Oregon Territory was established in 1848. It was a large territory that included the future states of Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and part of Montana. As Oregon continued to grow it eventually broke off from the other regions in the territory and, on February 14, 1859, Oregon was admitted into the Union as the 33rd state.

When gold was discovered in the 1850s, even more people moved into Oregon. There was less and less land for the Native Americans. Tribes such as the Nez Perce were forced to move into smaller and smaller reservations. In 1863, gold was discovered on the Nez Perce reservation. They were told they would have to move again. After a small fight erupted in 1877, the Nez Perce under the leadership of Chief Joseph tried to flee to Canada. The U.S. army pursued them. They fought the army all along the way, engaging in several battles along their 1,400 mile retreat. These battles are called the Nez Perce War. In the end, the Nez Perce lost and were forced to move to Indian Territory in Oklahoma.

Portland, Oregon from the US Fish and Wildlife Service


Origin of name: Unknown. However, it is generally accepted that the name, first used by Jonathan Carver in 1778, was taken from the writings of Maj. Robert Rogers, an English army officer.

10 largest cities (2010 est.): Portland, 583,776 Eugene, 156,185 Salem 154,637 Gresham, 105,594 Hillsboro, 91,611 Beaverton, 89,803 Bend, 76,639 Medford, 74,907 Springfield, 59,403 Corvallis, 54,462

Geographic center: In Crook Co., 25 mi. SSE of Prineville

Number of counties: 36

Largest county by population and area: Multnomah, 735,334 (2010) Harney, 10,135 sq mi.

State forests: 780,000 ac.

State parks: 231 (95,462 ac.)

2010 resident census population (rank): 3,831,074 (27). Male: 1,896,002 (49.5%) Female: 1,935,072 (50.5%). White: 3,204,614 (83.6%) Black: 69,206 (1.8%) American Indian: 53,203 (1.4%) Asian: 141,263 (3.7%) Other race: 204,625 (5.3%) Two or more races: 144,759 (3.8%) Hispanic/Latino: 450,062 (11.7%). 2010 percent population 18 and over: 77.4 65 and over: 13.9 median age: 38.4.

Spanish and English sailors are believed to have sighted the Oregon coast in the 1500s and 1600s. Capt. James Cook, seeking the Northwest Passage, charted some of the coastline in 1778. In 1792, Capt. Robert Gray, in the Columbia, discovered the river named after his ship and claimed the area for the U.S.

In 1805 the Lewis and Clark expedition explored the area. John Jacob Astor's fur depot, Astoria, was founded in 1811. Disputes for control of Oregon between American settlers and the Hudson Bay Company were finally resolved in the 1846 Oregon Treaty, in which Great Britain gave up claims to the region.

In the agricultural sector, greenhouse and nursery products such as daffodils, gladioli, irises, lilies, peonies and tulips for bulbs are Oregon's most valuable. Hay is Oregon's second ranked crop generating 7% of the state's total agricultural receipts.

Ryegrass, wheat and onions are also valuable crops within the state. Oregon produces almost all of the country's seed for bentgrass, fescue, ryegrass, crimson clover, Kentucky and merion bluegrasses and orchardgrass. Oregon is a leader in the production of peppermint oil and Christmas trees.

With the low-cost electric power provided by dams, Oregon has developed steadily as a manufacturing state. Leading manufactured items are lumber and plywood, metalwork, machinery, aluminum, chemicals, paper, food packing, and electronic equipment. Following the high-tech component industry is the wood processing industry where manufactured products include plywood, veneer and particleboard. Oregon leads the states in lumber production.

Crater Lake National Park, Mount Hood, and Bonneville Dam on the Columbia are major tourist attractions. Other points of interest include the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Oregon Caves National Monument, Cape Perpetua in Siuslaw National Forest, Columbia River Gorge between The Dalles and Troutdale, Hells Canyon, Newberry Volcanic National Monument, and John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

In 2012's Gallup's ideological survey, Oregon was ranked the third bluest (most liberal) state behind Washington DC and Massachusetts. In another 2012 Gallup survey, Oregon placed near the bottom of the most religious states. Oregon placed fifth from the bottom, tying with Rhode Island and ahead of only four states, all located in New England. Meanwhile, state education officials reported that more than 20,000 students took at least one AP exam in 2012. That's a third of the graduating 2012 class and a 6.6 percent increase from 2011.


The earliest evidence of the name Oregon has Spanish origins. The term "orejón" (meaning "big ear") comes from the historical chronicle Relación de la Alta y Baja California (1598) [14] written by the new Spaniard Rodrigo Montezuma and made reference to the Columbia River when the Spanish explorers penetrated into the actual North American territory that became part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. This chronicle is the first topographical and linguistic source with respect to the place name Oregon. There are also two other sources with Spanish origins, such as the word oregano, referring to a plant that grows in the southern part of the region. It is possible that the American territory was named by the Spaniards, as there is a stream in Spain called the "Arroyo del Oregón" (which is located in the province of Ciudad Real) it is also possible that the "j" in the Spanish phrase "El Orejón" was later corrupted into a "g", [15] and in context might refer to the 'earful' of the massive Columbia River at its mouth.

Another early use of the name, spelled Ouragon, was by Major Robert Rogers in a 1765 petition to the Kingdom of Great Britain. The term referred to the then-mythical River of the West (the Columbia River). By 1778, the spelling had shifted to Oregon. [16] Rogers wrote:

. from the Great Lakes towards the Head of the Mississippi, and from thence to the River called by the Indians Ouragon . [17]

One theory is that the name comes from the French word ouragan ("windstorm" or "hurricane"), which was applied to the River of the West based on Native American tales of powerful Chinook winds on the lower Columbia River, or perhaps from firsthand French experience with the Chinook winds of the Great Plains. At the time, the River of the West was thought to rise in western Minnesota and flow west through the Great Plains. [18]

Joaquin Miller discussed in Sunset magazine, in 1904, how Oregon's name was derived:

The name, Oregon, is rounded down phonetically, from Ouve água—Oragua, Or-a-gon, Oregon—given probably by the same Portuguese navigator that named the Farallones after his first officer, and it literally, in a large way, means cascades: "Hear the waters." You should steam up the Columbia and hear and feel the waters falling out of the clouds of Mount Hood to understand entirely the full meaning of the name Ouve a água, Oregon. [19]

Another account, endorsed as the "most plausible explanation" in the book Oregon Geographic Names, was advanced by George R. Stewart in a 1944 article in American Speech. According to Stewart, the name came from an engraver's error in a French map published in the early 18th century, on which the Ouisiconsink (Wisconsin) River was spelled "Ouaricon-sint", broken on two lines with the -sint below, so there appeared to be a river flowing to the west named "Ouaricon".

According to the Oregon Tourism Commission, present-day Oregonians / ˌ ɒ r ɪ ˈ ɡ oʊ n i ə n z / [20] pronounce the state's name as "or-uh-gun, never or-ee-gone". [21] After being drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2002, former Oregon Ducks quarterback Joey Harrington distributed "Orygun" stickers to members of the media as a reminder of how to pronounce the name of his home state. [22] [23] The stickers are sold by the University of Oregon Bookstore. [24]

Humans have inhabited the area that is now Oregon for at least 15,000 years. In recorded history, mentions of the land date to as early as the 16th century. During the 18th and 19th centuries, European powers—and later the United States—quarreled over possession of the region until 1846, when the U.S. and Great Britain finalized division of the region. Oregon became a state on February 14, 1859, and as of 2015 [update] has more than four million residents. [25]

Earliest inhabitants Edit

While there is considerable evidence that Paleo-Indians inhabited the region, the oldest evidence of habitation in Oregon was found at Fort Rock Cave and the Paisley Caves in Lake County. Archaeologist Luther Cressman dated material from Fort Rock to 13,200 years ago, [26] and there is evidence supporting inhabitants in the region at least 15,000 years ago. [27] By 8000 BC there were settlements throughout the state, with populations concentrated along the lower Columbia River, in the western valleys, and around coastal estuaries.

During the prehistoric period, the Willamette Valley region was flooded after the collapse of glacial dams from then Lake Missoula, located in what would later become Montana. These massive floods occurred during the last glacial period and filled the valley with 300 to 400 feet (91 to 122 m) of water. [28]

European and pioneer settlement Edit

The first Europeans to visit Oregon were Spanish explorers led by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who sighted southern Oregon off the Pacific coast in 1543. [33] Sailing from Central America on the Golden Hind in 1579 in search of the Strait of Anian during his circumnavigation of the Earth, the English explorer and privateer Sir Francis Drake briefly anchored at South Cove, Cape Arago, just south of Coos Bay, before sailing for what is now California. [34] [35] Martín de Aguilar, continuing separately from Sebastián Vizcaíno's scouting of California, reached as far north as Cape Blanco and possibly to Coos Bay in 1603. [36] [37] Exploration continued routinely in 1774, starting with the expedition of the frigate Santiago by Juan José Pérez Hernández, and the coast of Oregon became a valuable trade route to Asia. In 1778, British captain James Cook also explored the coast. [38]

French Canadians, Scots, Métis and other continental natives (e.g. Iroquois) trappers arrived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, soon to be followed by Catholic clergy. Some travelled as members of the Lewis and Clark and 1811 Astor expedition. Few stayed permanently such as Étienne Lussier, often referred as the first "European" farmer in the state of Oregon. Evidence of the French Canadian presence can be found in numerous names of French origin such as Malheur Lake, Malheur River, Grande Ronde, Deschutes rivers and the city of La Grande. Furthermore, many of the early pioneers first came out West with the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company before heading South of the Columbia for better farmland as the fur trade declined. French Prairie by the Willamette River and French Settlement by the Umpqua River are known as early mixed ancestry settlements.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition travelled through northern Oregon also in search of the Northwest Passage. They built their winter fort in 1805–06 at Fort Clatsop, near the mouth of the Columbia River, staying at the encampment from December until March. [39]

British explorer David Thompson also conducted overland exploration. In 1811, while working for the North West Company, Thompson became the first European to navigate the entire Columbia River. [40] Stopping on the way, at the junction of the Snake River, he posted a claim to the region for Great Britain and the North West Company. Upon returning to Montreal, he publicized the abundance of fur-bearing animals in the area. [41]

Also in 1811, New Yorker John Jacob Astor financed the establishment of Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River as a western outpost to his Pacific Fur Company [42] this was the first permanent European settlement in Oregon.

In the War of 1812, the British gained control of all Pacific Fur Company posts. The Treaty of 1818 established joint British and American occupancy of the region west of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. By the 1820s and 1830s, the Hudson's Bay Company dominated the Pacific Northwest from its Columbia District headquarters at Fort Vancouver (built in 1825 by the district's chief factor, John McLoughlin, across the Columbia from present-day Portland).

In 1841, the expert trapper and entrepreneur Ewing Young died leaving considerable wealth and no apparent heir, and no system to probate his estate. A meeting followed Young's funeral, at which a probate government was proposed. [43] Doctor Ira Babcock of Jason Lee's Methodist Mission was elected supreme judge. [44] Babcock chaired two meetings in 1842 at Champoeg, (halfway between Lee's mission and Oregon City), to discuss wolves and other animals of contemporary concern. These meetings were precursors to an all-citizen meeting in 1843, which instituted a provisional government headed by an executive committee made up of David Hill, Alanson Beers, and Joseph Gale. [45] This government was the first acting public government of the Oregon Country before annexation by the government of the United States. It was succeeded by a Second Executive Committee, made up of Peter G. Stewart, Osborne Russell, and William J. Bailey, and this committee was itself succeeded by George Abernethy, who was the first and only Governor of Oregon under the provisional government.

Also in 1841, Sir George Simpson, governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, reversed the Hudson's Bay Company's long-standing policy of discouraging settlement because it interfered with the lucrative fur trade. [46] He directed that some 200 Red River Colony settlers be relocated to HBC farms near Fort Vancouver, (the James Sinclair expedition), in an attempt to hold Columbia District.

Starting in 1842–43, the Oregon Trail brought many new American settlers to the Oregon Country. Oregon's boundaries were disputed for a time, contributing to tensions between England and the U.S., but the border was defined peacefully in the 1846 Oregon Treaty. The border between the United States and British North America was set at the 49th parallel. [47] The Oregon Territory was officially organized on August 13, 1848. [48]

Settlement increased with the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 and the forced relocation of the native population to Indian reservations in Oregon.

Statehood Edit

In December 1844, Oregon passed its Black Exclusion Law, which prohibited African Americans from entering the territory while simultaneously prohibiting slavery. Slave owners who brought their slaves with them were given three years before they were forced to free them. Any African Americans in the region after the law was passed were forced to leave, and those who did not comply were arrested and beaten. They received no less than twenty and no more than thirty-nine stripes across their bare back if they still did not leave. This process could be repeated every six months. [49] Slavery played a major part in Oregon's history and even influenced its path to statehood. The territory's request for statehood was delayed several times, as members of Congress argued among themselves whether the territory should be admitted as a "free" or "slave" state. Eventually politicians from the south agreed to allow Oregon to enter as a "free" state, in exchange for opening slavery to the southwest United States. [50]

Oregon was admitted to the Union on February 14, 1859, though no one in Oregon knew it until March 15. [51] Founded as a refuge from disputes over slavery, Oregon had a "whites only" clause in its original state Constitution. [52] [53] At the outbreak of the American Civil War, regular U.S. troops were withdrawn and sent east to aid the Union. Volunteer cavalry recruited in California were sent north to Oregon to keep peace and protect the populace. The First Oregon Cavalry served until June 1865.

Post-Reconstruction Edit

Beginning in the 1880s, the growth of railroads expanded the state's lumber, wheat, and other agricultural markets, and the rapid growth of its cities. [54] Due to the abundance of timber and waterway access via the Willamette River, Portland became a major force in the lumber industry of the Pacific Northwest, and quickly became the state's largest city. It would earn the nickname "Stumptown", [55] and would later become recognized as one of the most dangerous port cities in the United States due to racketeering and illegal activities at the turn of the 20th century. [56] In 1902, Oregon introduced direct legislation by the state's citizens through initiatives and referenda, known as the Oregon System. [57]

On May 5, 1945, six civilians were killed by a Japanese balloon bomb that exploded on Gearhart Mountain near Bly. [58] [59] They remained the only people on American soil whose deaths were attributed to an enemy balloon bomb explosion during World War II. The bombing site is now located in the Mitchell Recreation Area.

Industrial expansion began in earnest following the 1933–37 construction of the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. Hydroelectric power, food, and lumber provided by Oregon helped fuel the development of the West, although the periodic fluctuations in the U.S. building industry have hurt the state's economy on multiple occasions. Portland, in particular, experienced a population boom between 1900 and 1930, tripling in size the arrival of World War II also provided the northwest region of the state with an industrial boom, where Liberty ships and aircraft carriers were constructed. [60]

During the 1970s, the Pacific Northwest was particularly affected by the 1973 oil crisis, with Oregon suffering a substantial shortage. [61]

In 1972, The Oregon Beverage Container Act of 1971, [62] popularly called the Bottle Bill, became the first law of its kind in the United States. The Bottle Bill system in Oregon was created to control litter. In practice, the system promotes recycling, not reusing, and the collected containers are generally destroyed and made into new containers. Ten states [63] currently have similar laws.

In 1994, Oregon became the first U.S. state to legalize physician-assisted suicide through the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. A measure to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Oregon was approved on November 4, 2014, making Oregon only the second state at the time to have legalized gay marriage, physician-assisted suicide, and recreational marijuana. [64]

Oregon is 295 miles (475 km) north to south at longest distance, and 395 miles (636 km) east to west. With an area of 98,381 square miles (254,810 km 2 ), Oregon is slightly larger than the United Kingdom. It is the ninth largest state in the United States. [65] Oregon's highest point is the summit of Mount Hood, at 11,249 feet (3,429 m), and its lowest point is the sea level of the Pacific Ocean along the Oregon Coast. [66] Oregon's mean elevation is 3,300 feet (1,006 m). Crater Lake National Park, the state's only national park, is the site of the deepest lake in the United States at 1,943 feet (592 m). [67] Oregon claims the D River as the shortest river in the world, [68] though the state of Montana makes the same claim of its Roe River. [69] Oregon is also home to Mill Ends Park (in Portland), [70] the smallest park in the world at 452 square inches (0.29 m 2 ).

Oregon lies in two time zones. Most of Malheur County is in the Mountain Time Zone, while the rest of the state lies in the Pacific Time Zone.

Geology and terrain Edit

Western Oregon's mountainous regions, home to three of the most prominent mountain peaks of the United States including Mount Hood, were formed by the volcanic activity of the Juan de Fuca Plate, a tectonic plate that poses a continued threat of volcanic activity and earthquakes in the region. The most recent major activity was the 1700 Cascadia earthquake. [71] Washington's Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, an event visible from northern Oregon and affecting some areas there. [72]

The Columbia River, which forms much of Oregon's northern border, also played a major role in the region's geological evolution, as well as its economic and cultural development. The Columbia is one of North America's largest rivers, and one of two rivers to cut through the Cascades (the Klamath River in southern Oregon is the other). About 15,000 years ago, the Columbia repeatedly flooded much of Oregon during the Missoula Floods the modern fertility of the Willamette Valley is largely the result. Plentiful salmon made parts of the river, such as Celilo Falls, hubs of economic activity for thousands of years.

Today, Oregon's landscape varies from rain forest in the Coast Range to barren desert in the southeast, which still meets the technical definition of a frontier. Oregon's geographical center is further west than any of the other 48 contiguous states (although the westernmost point of the lower 48 states is in Washington). Central Oregon's geographical features range from high desert and volcanic rock formations resulting from lava beds. The Oregon Badlands Wilderness is in this region of the state. [73]

Flora and fauna Edit

Typical of a western state, Oregon is home to a unique and diverse array of wildlife. Roughly 60 percent of the state is covered in forest, [74] while the areas west of the Cascades are more densely populated by forest, making up around 80 percent of the landscape. Some 60 percent of Oregon's forests are within federal land. [74] Oregon is the top timber producer of the lower 48 states. [12] [75]

  • Typical tree species include the Douglas fir (the state tree), as well as redwood, ponderosa pine, western red cedar, and hemlock. [76] Ponderosa pine are more common in the Blue Mountains in the eastern part of the state and firs are more common in the west.
  • Many species of mammals live in the state, which include opossums, shrews, moles, little pocket mice, great basin pocket mice, dark kangaroo mouse, California kangaroo rat, chisel-toothed kangaroo rat, ord's kangaroo rat, [77] bats, rabbits, pikas, mountain beavers, chipmunks, squirrels, yellow-bellied marmots, beavers (the state mammal), porcupines, coyotes, wolves, foxes [78] black bears, raccoons, badgers, skunks, antelopes, cougars, bobcats, lynxes, deer, elk, and moose.
  • Marine mammals include seals, sea lions, humpback whales, killer whales, gray whales, blue whales, sperm whales, pacific white-sided dolphins, and bottlenose dolphins. [79]
  • Notable birds include American widgeons, mallard ducks, great blue herons, bald eagles, golden eagles, western meadowlarks (the state bird), barn owls, great horned owls, rufous hummingbirds, pileated woodpeckers, wrens, towhees, sparrows, and buntings. [80]

Moose have not always inhabited the state but came to Oregon in the 1960s the Wallowa Valley herd numbered about 60 as of 2013 [update] . [81] Gray wolves were extirpated from Oregon around 1930 but have since found their way back most reside in northeast Oregon, with two packs living in the south-central part. [82] Although their existence in Oregon is unconfirmed, reports of grizzly bears still turn up, and it is probable some still move into eastern Oregon from Idaho. [83]

Oregon is home to what is considered the largest single organism in the world, an Armillaria solidipes fungus beneath the Malheur National Forest of eastern Oregon. [11]

Oregon has several National Park System sites, including Crater Lake National Park in the southern part of the Cascades, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument east of the Cascades, Lewis and Clark National Historical Park on the north coast, and Oregon Caves National Monument near the south coast.

Climate Edit

Most of Oregon has a generally mild climate, though there is significant variation given the variety of landscapes across the state. [84] The state's western region (west of the Cascade Range) has an oceanic climate, populated by dense evergreen mixed forests. Western Oregon's climate is heavily influenced by the Pacific Ocean the western third of Oregon is very wet in the winter, moderately to very wet during the spring and fall, and dry during the summer. The relative humidity of Western Oregon is high except during summer days, which are semi-dry to semi-humid Eastern Oregon typically sees low humidity year-round. [85]

The state's southwestern portion, particularly the Rogue Valley, has a Mediterranean climate with drier and sunnier winters and hotter summers, similar to Northern California. [86]

Oregon's northeastern portion has a steppe climate, and its high terrain regions have a subarctic climate. Like Western Europe, Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest in general, is considered warm for its latitude, and the state has far milder winters at a given elevation than comparable latitudes elsewhere in North America, such as the Upper Midwest, Ontario, Quebec and New England. [85] However, the state ranks fifth for coolest summer temperatures of any state in the country, after Maine, Idaho, Wyoming, and Alaska. [87]

The eastern two thirds of Oregon, which largely comprise high desert, have cold, snowy winters and very dry summers. Much of the east is semiarid to arid like the rest of the Great Basin, though the Blue Mountains are wet enough to support extensive forests. Most of Oregon receives significant snowfall, but the Willamette Valley, where 60 percent of the population lives, [88] has considerably milder winters for its latitude and typically sees only light snowfall. [85]

Oregon's highest recorded temperature is 119 °F (48 °C) at Pendleton on August 10, 1898, and the lowest recorded temperature is −54 °F (−48 °C) at Seneca on February 10, 1933. [89]

Cities and towns Edit

Oregon's population is largely concentrated in the Willamette Valley, which stretches from Eugene in the south (home of the University of Oregon) through Corvallis (home of Oregon State University) and Salem (the capital) to Portland (Oregon's largest city). [90]

Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River, was the first permanent English-speaking settlement west of the Rockies in what is now the United States. Oregon City, at the end of the Oregon Trail, was the Oregon Territory's first incorporated city, and was its first capital from 1848 until 1852, when the capital was moved to Salem. Bend, near the geographic center of the state, is one of the ten fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States. [91] [ better source needed ] In southern Oregon, Medford is a rapidly growing metro area and is home to the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport, the state's third-busiest airport. To the south, near the California border, is the city of Ashland. Eastern Oregon is sparsely populated, but is home to Hermiston, which with a population of 18,000 is the largest and fastest-growing city in the region. [92]

Population Edit

Historical population
Census Pop.
186052,465 333.8%
187090,923 73.3%
1880174,768 92.2%
1890317,704 81.8%
1900413,536 30.2%
1910672,765 62.7%
1920783,389 16.4%
1930953,786 21.8%
19401,089,684 14.2%
19501,521,341 39.6%
19601,768,687 16.3%
19702,091,385 18.2%
19802,633,105 25.9%
19902,842,321 7.9%
20003,421,399 20.4%
20103,831,074 12.0%
20204,237,256 10.6%
Sources: 1910–2020 [96]

The United States Census Bureau determined that the population of Oregon was 4,237,256 in 2020, based on the 2020 United States census, a 10.71% increase over the 2010 census. [4]

Oregon was the nation's "Top Moving Destination" in 2014, with two families moving into the state for every one moving out (66.4% to 33.6%). [98] Oregon was also the top moving destination in 2013, [99] and the second-most popular destination in 2010 through 2012. [100] [101]

As of the 2010 census, the population of Oregon was 3,831,074. The gender makeup of the state was 49.5% male and 50.5% female. 22.6% of the population were under the age of 18 63.5% were between the ages of 18 and 64 and 12.5% were 65 years of age or older. [102]

The table below shows the racial composition of Oregon's population as of 2016.

Oregon racial composition of population [103]
Race Population (2016 est.) Percentage
Total population 3,982,267 100%
White 3,387,825 85.1%
Black or African American 74,012 1.9%
American Indian and Alaska Native 45,233 1.1%
Asian 160,155 4.0%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 14,936 0.4%
Some other race 124,565 3.1%
Two or more races 175,541 4.4%
Oregon historical racial composition
Racial composition 1970 [104] 1990 [104] 2000 [105] 2010 [102]
White 97.2% 92.8% 86.6% 83.6%
Black or African American 1.3% 1.6% 1.6% 1.8%
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.6% 1.4% 1.3% 1.4%
Asian 0.7% 2.4% 3.0% 3.7%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.2% 0.3%
Other race 0.2% 1.8% 4.2% 5.3%
Two or more races 3.1% 3.8%

According to the 2016 American Community Survey, 12.4% of Oregon's population were of Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race): Mexican (10.4%), Puerto Rican (0.3%), Cuban (0.1%), and other Hispanic or Latino origin (1.5%). [103] The five largest ancestry groups for White Oregonians were: German (19.1%), Irish (11.7%), English (11.3%), American (5.3%), and Norwegian (3.8%). [106]

The state's most populous ethnic group, non-Hispanic White, has declined from 95.8% in 1970 to 77.8% in 2012. [107] [108]

As of 2011 [update] , 38.7% of Oregon's children under one year of age belonged to minority groups, meaning they had at least one parent who was not a non-Hispanic White. [109] Of the state's total population, 22.6% was under the age 18, and 77.4% were 18 or older.

The center of population of Oregon is located in Linn County, in the city of Lyons. [110] Around 60% of Oregon's population resides within the Portland metropolitan area. [111]

As of 2009 [update] , Oregon's population comprised 361,393 foreign-born residents. [112] Of the foreign-born residents, the three largest groups are originally from countries in: Latin America (47.8%), Asia (27.4%), and Europe (16.5%). [112]

Roma gypsies first reached Oregon in the 1890s. There is a substantial Roma population Willamette Valley and around Portland. [113]

Religious and secular communities Edit

Oregon has frequently been cited by statistical agencies for having a smaller percentage of religious communities than other U.S. states. [115] [116] According to a 2009 Gallup poll, Oregon was paired with Vermont as the two "least religious" states in the United States. [117]

In the same 2009 Gallup poll, 69% of Oregonians identified themselves as being Christian. [118] The largest Christian denominations in Oregon by number of adherents in 2010 were the Roman Catholic Church with 398,738 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 147,965 and the Assemblies of God with 45,492. [119] Oregon also contains the largest community of Russian Old Believers to be found in the United States. [120] Judaism is the largest non-Christian religion in Oregon with more than 50,000 adherents, 47,000 of whom live in the Portland area. [121] [122] Recently, new kosher food and Jewish educational offerings have led to a rapid increase in Portland's Orthodox Jewish population. [123] The Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association is headquartered in Portland. There are an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 Muslims in Oregon, most of whom live in and around Portland. [124]

Most of the remainder of the population had no religious affiliation the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) placed Oregon as tied with Nevada in fifth place of U.S. states having the highest percentage of residents identifying themselves as "non-religious", at 24 percent. [125] [126] Secular organizations include the Center for Inquiry (CFI), the Humanists of Greater Portland (HGP), and the United States Atheists (USA).

During much of the 1990s, a group of conservative Christians formed the Oregon Citizens Alliance, and unsuccessfully tried to pass legislation to prevent "gay sensitivity training" in public schools and legal benefits for homosexual couples. [127]

  • Since 2016, data for births of White Hispanic origin are not collected, but included in one Hispanic group persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

Future projections Edit

Projections from the U.S. Census Bureau show Oregon's population increasing to 4,833,918 by 2030, an increase of 41.3% compared to the state's population of 3,421,399 in 2000. [135] The state's own projections forecast a total population of 5,425,408 in 2040. [136]

As of 2015 [update] , Oregon ranks as the 17th highest in median household income at $60,834. [5] The gross domestic product (GDP) of Oregon in 2013 was $219.6 billion, a 2.7% increase from 2012 Oregon is the 25th wealthiest state by GDP. In 2003, Oregon was 28th in the U.S. by GDP. The state's per capita personal income (PCPI) in 2013 was $39,848, a 1.5% increase from 2012. Oregon ranks 33rd in the U.S. by PCPI, compared to 31st in 2003. The national PCPI in 2013 was $44,765. [138]

Oregon's unemployment rate was 5.5% in September 2016, [139] while the U.S. unemployment rate was 5.0% that month. [140] Oregon has the third largest amount of food stamp users in the nation (21% of the population). [141]

Agriculture Edit

Oregon's diverse landscapes provide ideal environments for various types of farming. Land in the Willamette Valley owes its fertility to the Missoula Floods, which deposited lake sediment from Glacial Lake Missoula in western Montana onto the valley floor. [142] In 2016, the Willamette Valley region produced over 100 million pounds (45 kt) of blueberries. [143]

Oregon is also one of four major world hazelnut growing regions, and produces 95% of the domestic hazelnuts in the United States. While the history of the wine production in Oregon can be traced to before Prohibition, it became a significant industry beginning in the 1970s. In 2005, Oregon ranked third among U.S. states with 303 wineries. [144] Due to regional similarities in climate and soil, the grapes planted in Oregon are often the same varieties found in the French regions of Alsace and Burgundy. In 2014, 71 wineries opened in the state. The total is currently 676, which represents growth of 12% over 2013. [145]

In the southern Oregon coast, commercially cultivated cranberries account for about 7 percent of U.S. production, and the cranberry ranks 23rd among Oregon's top 50 agricultural commodities. Cranberry cultivation in Oregon uses about 27,000 acres (110 square kilometers) in southern Coos and northern Curry counties, centered around the coastal city of Bandon. In the northeastern region of the state, particularly around Pendleton, both irrigated and dry land wheat is grown. [146] Oregon farmers and ranchers also produce cattle, sheep, dairy products, eggs and poultry.

Forestry and fisheries Edit

Vast forests have historically made Oregon one of the nation's major timber-producing and logging states, but forest fires (such as the Tillamook Burn), over-harvesting, and lawsuits over the proper management of the extensive federal forest holdings have reduced the timber produced. Between 1989 and 2011, the amount of timber harvested from federal lands in Oregon dropped about 90%, although harvest levels on private land have remained relatively constant. [147]

Even the shift in recent years towards finished goods such as paper and building materials has not slowed the decline of the timber industry in the state. The effects of this decline have included Weyerhaeuser's acquisition of Portland-based Willamette Industries in January 2002, the relocation of Louisiana-Pacific's corporate headquarters from Portland to Nashville, and the decline of former lumber company towns such as Gilchrist. Despite these changes, Oregon still leads the United States in softwood lumber production in 2011, 4,134 million board feet (9,760,000 m 3 ) was produced in Oregon, compared with 3,685 million board feet (8,700,000 m 3 ) in Washington, 1,914 million board feet (4,520,000 m 3 ) in Georgia, and 1,708 million board feet (4,030,000 m 3 ) in Mississippi. [148] The slowing of the timber and lumber industry has caused high unemployment rates in rural areas. [149]

Oregon has one of the largest salmon-fishing industries in the world, although ocean fisheries have reduced the river fisheries in recent years. [150] Because of the abundance of waterways in the state, it is also a major producer of hydroelectric energy. [151]

Tourism and entertainment Edit

Tourism is also a strong industry in the state. Tourism is centered on the state's natural features – mountains, forests, waterfalls, rivers, beaches and lakes, including Crater Lake National Park, Multnomah Falls, the Painted Hills, the Deschutes River, and the Oregon Caves. Mount Hood and Mount Bachelor also draw visitors year-round for skiing and other snow activities. [152]

Portland is home to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Portland Art Museum, and the Oregon Zoo, which is the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi River. [153] The International Rose Test Garden is another prominent attraction in the city. Portland has also been named the best city in the world for street food by several publications, including the U.S. News & World Report and CNN. [154] [155] Oregon is home to many breweries, and Portland has the largest number of breweries of any city in the world. [156]

The state's coastal region produces significant tourism as well. [157] The Oregon Coast Aquarium comprises 23 acres (9.3 ha) along Yaquina Bay in Newport, and was also home to Keiko the orca whale. [158] It has been noted as one of the top ten aquariums in North America. [159] Fort Clatsop in Warrenton features a replica of Lewis and Clark's encampment at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1805. The Sea Lion Caves in Florence are the largest system of sea caverns in the United States, and also attract many visitors. [160]

In Southern Oregon, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, held in Ashland, is also a tourist draw, as is the Oregon Vortex and the Wolf Creek Inn State Heritage Site, a historic inn where Jack London wrote his 1913 novel Valley of the Moon. [161]

Oregon has also historically been a popular region for film shoots due to its diverse landscapes, as well as its proximity to Hollywood (see List of films shot in Oregon). [162] Movies filmed in Oregon include: Animal House, Free Willy, The General, The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Stand By Me. Oregon native Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, has incorporated many references from his hometown of Portland into the TV series. [163] Additionally, several television shows have been filmed throughout the state including Portlandia, Grimm, Bates Motel, and Leverage. [164] The Oregon Film Museum is located in the old Clatsop County Jail in Astoria.

Technology Edit

High technology industries located in Silicon Forest have been a major employer since the 1970s. Tektronix was the largest private employer in Oregon until the late 1980s. Intel's creation and expansion of several facilities in eastern Washington County continued the growth that Tektronix had started. Intel, the state's largest for-profit private employer, [165] [166] operates four large facilities, with Ronler Acres, Jones Farm and Hawthorn Farm all located in Hillsboro. [167]

The spinoffs and startups that were produced by these two companies led to establishment of the so-called Silicon Forest. The recession and dot-com bust of 2001 hit the region hard many high technology employers reduced the number of their employees or went out of business. Open Source Development Labs made news in 2004 when they hired Linus Torvalds, developer of the Linux kernel. In 2010, biotechnology giant Genentech opened a $400 million facility in Hillsboro to expand its production capabilities. [168] Oregon is home to several large datacenters that take advantage of cheap power and a climate conducive to reducing cooling costs. Google operates a large datacenter in The Dalles, and Facebook built a large datacenter near Prineville in 2010. Amazon opened a datacenter near Boardman in 2011, and a fulfillment center in Troutdale in 2018. [169] [170]

Corporate headquarters Edit

Largest Public Corporations Headquartered in Oregon (December 2016) [171]
Corporation Headquarters Market cap (USD$billion)
1. Nike Beaverton 91.35
2. FLIR Systems Wilsonville 4.77
3. Portland General Electric Portland 4.05
4. Columbia Sportswear Beaverton 4.03
5. Umpqua Holdings Corporation Portland 3.68
6. Lithia Motors Medford 2.06
7. Northwest Natural Gas Portland 1.7
8. The Greenbrier Companies Lake Oswego 1.25

Oregon is also the home of large corporations in other industries. The world headquarters of Nike are located near Beaverton. Medford is home to Harry and David, which sells gift items under several brands. Medford is also home to the national headquarters of Lithia Motors. Portland is home to one of the West's largest trade book publishing houses, Graphic Arts Center Publishing. Oregon is also home to Mentor Graphics Corporation, a world leader in electronic design automation located in Wilsonville and employs roughly 4,500 people worldwide.

Adidas Corporations American Headquarters is located in Portland and employs roughly 900 full-time workers at its Portland campus. [172] Nike, located in Beaverton, employs roughly 5,000 full-time employees at its 200-acre (81 ha) campus. Nike's Beaverton campus is continuously ranked as a top employer in the Portland area-along with competitor Adidas. [173] Intel Corporation employs 18,600 in Oregon [166] with the majority of these employees located at the company's Hillsboro campus located about 30 minutes west of Portland. Intel has been a top employer in Oregon since 1974. [174]

The U.S. Federal Government and Providence Health systems are respective contenders for top employers in Oregon with roughly 12,000 federal workers and 14,000 Providence Health workers.

In 2015, a total of seven companies headquartered in Oregon landed in the Fortune 1000: Nike, at 106 Precision Castparts Corp. at 302 Lithia Motors at 482 StanCorp Financial Group at 804 Schnitzer Steel Industries at 853 The Greenbrier Companies at 948 and Columbia Sportswear at 982. [175]

Taxes and budgets Edit

Oregon's biennial state budget, $2.6 billion in 2017, comprises General Funds, Federal Funds, Lottery Funds, and Other Funds. [176]

Oregon is one of only five states that have no sales tax. [177] Oregon voters have been resolute in their opposition to a sales tax, voting proposals down each of the nine times they have been presented. [178] The last vote, for 1993's Measure 1, was defeated by a 75–25% margin. [179]

The state also has a minimum corporate tax of only $150 a year, [180] amounting to 5.6% of the General Fund in the 2005–07 biennium data about which businesses pay the minimum is not available to the public. [181] [ better source needed ] As a result, the state relies on property and income taxes for its revenue. Oregon has the fifth highest personal income tax in the nation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Oregon ranked 41st out of the 50 states in taxes per capita in 2005 with an average amount paid of 1,791.45. [182]

A few local governments levy sales taxes on services: the city of Ashland, for example, collects a 5% sales tax on prepared food. [183]

The City of Portland imposes an Arts Education and Access Income Tax on residents over 18—a flat tax of $35 collected from individuals earning $1,000 or more per year and residing in a household with an annual income exceeding the federal poverty level. The tax funds Portland school teachers, and art focused non-profit organizations in Portland. [184]

The State of Oregon also allows transit district to levy an income tax on employers and the self-employed. The State currently collects the tax for TriMet and the Lane Transit District. [185] [186]

Oregon is one of six states with a revenue limit. [187] The "kicker law" stipulates that when income tax collections exceed state economists' estimates by two percent or more, any excess must be returned to taxpayers. [188] Since the enactment of the law in 1979, refunds have been issued for seven of the eleven biennia. [189] In 2000, Ballot Measure 86 converted the "kicker" law from statute to the Oregon Constitution, and changed some of its provisions.

Federal payments to county governments that were granted to replace timber revenue when logging in National Forests was restricted in the 1990s, have been under threat of suspension for several years. This issue dominates the future revenue of rural counties, which have come to rely on the payments in providing essential services. [190]

55% of state revenues are spent on public education, 23% on human services (child protective services, Medicaid, and senior services), 17% on public safety, and 5% on other services. [191]

Healthcare Edit

For health insurance, as of 2018 Cambia Health Solutions has the highest market share at 21%, followed by Providence Health. [192] In the Portland region, Kaiser Permanente leads. [192] Providence and Kaiser are vertically integrated delivery systems which operate hospitals and offer insurance plans. [193] Aside from Providence and Kaiser, hospital systems which are primarily Oregon-based include Legacy Health mostly covering Portland, Samaritan Health Services with five hospitals in various areas across the state, and Tuality Healthcare in the western Portland metropolitan area. In Southern Oregon, Asante runs several hospitals, including Rogue Regional Medical Center. Some hospitals are operated by multi-state organizations such as PeaceHealth and CommonSpirit Health. Some hospitals such Salem Hospital operate independently of larger systems.

Oregon Health & Science University is a Portland-based medical school that operates two hospitals and clinics.

The Oregon Health Plan is the state's Medicaid managed care plan, and it is known for innovations. [194] The Portland area is a mature managed care and two-thirds of Medicare enrollees are in Medicare Advantage plans. [194]

Elementary, middle, and high school Edit

In the 2013–2014 school year, the state had 567,000 students in public schools. [195] There were 197 public school districts, served by 19 education service districts. [195]

In 2016, the largest school districts in the state were: [196] Portland Public Schools, comprising 47,323 students Salem-Keizer School District, comprising 40,565 students Beaverton School District, comprising 39,625 students Hillsboro School District, comprising 21,118 students and North Clackamas School District, comprising 17,053 students.

Approximately 90.5% of Oregon high school students graduate, improving on the national average of 88.3% as measured from the 2010 United States Census. [197]

Colleges and universities Edit

Especially since the 1990 passage of Measure 5, which set limits on property tax levels, Oregon has struggled to fund higher education. Since then, Oregon has cut its higher education budget and now ranks 46th in the country in state spending per student. However, 2007 legislation funded the university system far beyond the governor's requested budget though still capping tuition increases at 3% per year. [198] Oregon supports a total of seven public universities and one affiliate. It is home to three public research universities: The University of Oregon (UO) in Eugene and Oregon State University (OSU) in Corvallis, both classified as research universities with very high research activity, and Portland State University which is classified as a research university with high research activity. [199]

UO is the state's highest nationally ranked and most selective [200] public university by U.S. News & World Report and Forbes. [201] OSU is the state's only land-grant university, has the state's largest enrollment for fall 2014, [202] and is the state's highest ranking university according to Academic Ranking of World Universities, Washington Monthly, and QS World University Rankings. [203] OSU receives more annual funding for research than all other public higher education institutions in Oregon combined. [204] The state's urban Portland State University has Oregon's second largest enrollment.

The state has three regional universities: Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Southern Oregon University in Ashland, and Eastern Oregon University in La Grande. The Oregon Institute of Technology has its campus in Klamath Falls. The quasi-public Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) includes medical, dental, and nursing schools, and graduate programs in biomedical sciences in Portland and a science and engineering school in Hillsboro. The state also supports 17 community colleges.

Oregon is home to a wide variety of private colleges, the majority of which are located in the Portland area. The University of Portland and Marylhurst University are both Catholic universities located in or near Portland, affiliated with the Congregation of Holy Cross, and the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, respectively. Reed College, a rigorous liberal arts college in Portland, was ranked by Forbes as the 52nd best college in the country in 2015. [205]

Other private institutions in Portland include Lewis & Clark College Multnomah University Portland Bible College Warner Pacific College Cascade College the National University of Natural Medicine and Western Seminary, a theological graduate school. Pacific University is in the Portland suburb of Forest Grove. There are also private colleges further south in the Willamette Valley. McMinnville is home to Linfield College, while nearby Newberg is home to George Fox University. Salem is home to two private schools: Willamette University (the state's oldest, established during the provisional period) and Corban University. Also located near Salem is Mount Angel Seminary, one of America's largest Roman Catholic seminaries. The state's second medical school, the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, Northwest, is located in Lebanon. Eugene is home to three private colleges: Northwest Christian University, New Hope Christian College, and Gutenberg College.

A writer in the Oregon Country book A Pacific Republic, written in 1839, predicted the territory was to become an independent republic. Four years later, in 1843, settlers of the Willamette Valley voted in majority for a republic government. [206] The Oregon Country functioned in this way until August 13, 1848, when Oregon was annexed by the United States and a territorial government was established. Oregon maintained a territorial government until February 14, 1859, when it was granted statehood. [207]

Oregon state government has a separation of powers similar to the federal government. It has three branches:

  • a legislative branch (the bicameralOregon Legislative Assembly),
  • an executive branch which includes an "administrative department" and Oregon's governor serving as chief executive, and
  • a judicial branch, headed by the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court.

Governors in Oregon serve four-year terms and are limited to two consecutive terms, but an unlimited number of total terms. Oregon has no lieutenant governor in the event that the office of governor is vacated, Article V, Section 8a of the Oregon Constitution specifies that the Secretary of State is first in line for succession. [208] The other statewide officers are Treasurer, Attorney General, Superintendent, and Labor Commissioner. The biennial Oregon Legislative Assembly consists of a thirty-member Senate and a sixty-member House. The state supreme court has seven elected justices, currently including the only two openly gay state supreme court justices in the nation. They choose one of their own to serve a six-year term as Chief Justice.

The debate over whether to move to annual sessions is a long-standing battle in Oregon politics, but the voters have resisted the move from citizen legislators to professional lawmakers. Because Oregon's state budget is written in two-year increments and, there being no sales tax, state revenue is based largely on income taxes, it is often significantly over- or under-budget. Recent legislatures have had to be called into special sessions repeatedly to address revenue shortfalls resulting from economic downturns, bringing to a head the need for more frequent legislative sessions. Oregon Initiative 71, passed in 2010, mandates the legislature to begin meeting every year, for 160 days in odd-numbered years, and 35 days in even-numbered years.

Federally recognized tribes in Oregon
Burns Paiute Tribe
Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians
Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians
Klamath Tribes
Coquille Indian Tribe

Oregonians have voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election since 1988. In 2004 and 2006, Democrats won control of the state Senate, and then the House. Since the late 1990s, Oregon has been represented by four Democrats and one Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives. Since 2009, the state has had two Democratic U.S. senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. Oregon voters have elected Democratic governors in every election since 1986, most recently electing Kate Brown over Republican Bud Pierce in a 2016 special election for a two-year term, and re-electing her for a full four-year term over Republican Knute Buehler in 2018.

The base of Democratic support is largely concentrated in the urban centers of the Willamette Valley. The eastern two-thirds of the state beyond the Cascade Mountains typically votes Republican in 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush carried every county east of the Cascades. However, the region's sparse population means the more populous counties in the Willamette Valley usually outweigh the eastern counties in statewide elections.

In the 2002 general election, Oregon voters approved a ballot measure to increase the state minimum wage automatically each year according to inflationary changes, which are measured by the consumer price index (CPI). [209] In the 2004 general election, Oregon voters passed ballot measures banning same-sex marriage [210] and restricting land use regulation. [211] In the 2006 general election, voters restricted the use of eminent domain and extended the state's discount prescription drug coverage. [212]

In the 2020 general election, Oregon voters approved a ballot measure to decriminalize the possession of small quantities of street drugs such as cocaine and heroin, becoming the first state in the country to do so after the drugs were originally made illegal. [213] The state also approved a ballot measure to create a legal means of administering psilocybin for medicinal use. [214]

Federal representation Edit

Like all U.S. states, Oregon is represented by two senators. Since the 1980 census, Oregon has had five congressional districts. After Oregon was admitted to the Union, it began with a single member in the House of Representatives (La Fayette Grover, who served in the 35th United States Congress for less than a month). Congressional apportionment increased the size of the delegation following the censuses of 1890, 1910, 1940, and 1980. Following the 2020 census, Oregon will gain a sixth congressional seat. It will be filled in the 2022 Congressional Elections. [215] A detailed list of the past and present Congressional delegations from Oregon is available.

The United States District Court for the District of Oregon hears federal cases in the state. The court has courthouses in Portland, Eugene, Medford, and Pendleton. Also in Portland is the federal bankruptcy court, with a second branch in Eugene. [216] Oregon (among other western states and territories) is in the 9th Court of Appeals. One of the court's meeting places is at the Pioneer Courthouse in downtown Portland, a National Historic Landmark built in 1869.

Oregon - HISTORY

Recipient of the 1998 American Local History Network Award for Preservation of Oregon History
Recipient of the 2005 Distinguished Service Award presented by OCTA for contribution to Trail Preservation
Recipient of the 2014 Education Award presented by the Willamette Heritage Center

Researched and Compiled by
Stephenie Flora

Welcome to Oregon! This site was started in 1989 and is an ongoing project that focuses on the pioneers of the Oregon Territory up to and including 1855. I welcome any additional information you may want to contribute on an ancestor and will list as a researcher anyone interested in a particular family.

As you will note, the page is broken down into 4 sections. The first section is called THE SETTLING OF OREGON. This section contains the history and background of the Oregon Territory The second section, THE JOURNEY, contains information on preparing for the journey and information on the trail.The third section contains EMIGRANT LISTS and is a compilation of information [including pioneer lists by year of emigration] extracted from a variety of sources. The fourth section is devoted to RESEARCHING THE PIONEERS and provides links to research and historic sites that may be of interest.

If you have a pioneer ancestor that came to the Oregon Territory prior to Feb 14, 1859, you might want to consider joining Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers . It is one way of helping to preserve the Oregon Territory's pioneer history. To learn more about the trails west and to help with their preservation, visit the Oregon California Trail Association website.

The Oregon Historical Society is dedicated to making Oregon's long, rich history visible and accessible to all. For more than a century, the Oregon Historical Society has served as the state's collective memory, preserving a vast collection of artifacts, photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, films, and oral histories. Our research library, museum, digital platform, educational programming, and historical journal make Oregon's history open and accessible to all. We exist because history is powerful, and because a history as deep and rich as Oregon's cannot be contained within a single story or point of view.

Contact Us

Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Ave
Portland, OR 97205

Support OHS

The Oregon Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Federal Tax ID 93-0391599.

Our Hours

Tuesday – Friday:
Noon – 5pm
Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: Noon – 5pm
Closed Monday

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About the Department

We are scholars and teachers with a passion for understanding the past in all its dimensions. Our distinguished and innovative faculty offers courses and conducts research on the history of classical antiquity, Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, colonial North America and the United States, and the world as a whole.

Undergraduate history majors learn about the variety of human experience over time and, along the way, acquire analytical and writing skills that prepare them for success in many different areas of work and study. History graduate students become immersed in the latest scholarship and develop research projects that contribute in significant ways to an understanding of the past. They play a vital role in the department’s teaching mission as well.

We invite you to browse our website and read about recent activities from the department. Please feel free to contact us for more information.

Coquille, Czarina, and Kelp Ore: OE entries by author Cameron La Follette

"For 363 miles, you are that land’s edge where rivers meet and feed an ocean, a shoreline studded with dune and tide pool, cliff and lighthouse, its entire wave-swept length open to us all. You are our Pacific Coast." (Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita). We are pleased to feature the work of one our most prolific authors, Cameron La Follette, who is an expert on the cultural history of the Oregon Coast. Check this page monthly to browse through a brief and portable digital history exhibit, open all hours, wine and cheese optional.

From 1905 until the late 1940s, Brooten Baths was a major economic ente…

The Cape Arago Lighthouse sits on a small island off Cape Arago, south …

Cape Lookout, one of the most prominent landmarks on the Oregon Coast, …

Cape Meares Lighthouse is located atop Cape Meares, a scenic craggy hea…

Cape Perpetua juts into the Pacific Ocean about two miles south of Yach…

Coquille River Lighthouse

The Coquille River Lighthouse, which is adjacent to the Coquille River,…

The wreck of the Czarina is remembered as a tragedy that had no heroes,…

Dan Deuel was the founder of Free Flight, an all-volunteer bird and mar…

Desdemona Sands Lighthouse

The U.S. Lighthouse Service completed Desdemona Sands Lighthouse in 190…

Ecola State Park stretches for 1,023 acres from the north end of Cannon…

Heceta Head Lighthouse stands 205 feet above the Pacific Ocean on a blu…

The possible wreck of a European ship at Point Adams, on the southern e…

Lakeport, for a brief time the largest town in Curry County, wa…

Neahkahnie Mountain, about twenty miles south of Seaside, is a prominen…

Winding for 382 miles along the Oregon Coast, the Oregon Coast Trail is…

Pixieland was a short-lived but popular amusement park on the Oregon Co…

Located at the mouth of the Columbia River and marking the extreme nort…

Point Adams Lighthouse and Life-Saving Station

Point Adams was given its name by Captain Robert Gray, who in his offic…

Samuel H. Boardman State Park

The Samuel H. Boardman State Park is a 1,471-acre, 11-mile, linear park…

The Manila Galleon Trade and the Wreck on the Oregon Coast Nehalem-Til…

Sea serpent (or monster) lore has been a staple of Oregon&rsquos coast…

Silas Bryant Smith (1839-1902)

Silas Bryant Smith played a key role in recording the traditions, relig…

Sisters Rocks and Frankport

Sisters Rocks, thirteen miles north of Gold Beach, is a distinctive clu…

The Wreck of the Congress (ship)

The rescue of all 445 people aboard the burning passenger steamer Congr…

The Wreck of the Glenesslin (ship)

The 1913 wreck of the Glenesslin is one of Oregon&rsquos most enigmati…

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse sits on a rock a mile offshore of Tillamook H…

Oregon&rsquos Treasure Trove Act (ORS 273.718-273.742), which lasted f…

The Umpqua River Lighthouse, Oregon&rsquos first, was built twice. The…

Whale Cove is a small, nonnavigable bay in Lincoln County, approximatel…

William M. Tugman (1893-1961)

William M. Tugman played a major role in the history of Oregon as an ed…

Wreck of the General Warren (ship)

The highly publicized wreck of the General Warren in January 1852 …

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, built in 1871, is the only wooden lighthouse in…

Yaquina Bay, an estuary on the central Oregon Coast, was once home to t…

Yaquina City was a railroad boomtown on the upper reaches of Yaquina Ba…

The U.S. Lighthouse Board completed Yaquina Head Lighthouse in 1873 on …

Acknowledging the pain

As the holiday approaches this year, some view it as an opportunity to reflect on a summer of racial reckoning following the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass introduced the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act last year in June. The bill did not move forward then but was reintroduced in February by Markey, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.

Markey celebrated the legislation’s success Wednesday, calling its passage a way to “address this long-ignored gap in our history, recognize the wrong that was done, acknowledge the pain and suffering of generations of slaves and their descendants, and finally celebrate their freedom.”

In Oregon, that history of slavery is entangled with the state's racist beginnings. Early settlers in Oregon held strong anti-slavery beliefs, but also strong anti-Black beliefs.

The early constitution of Oregon, adopted in 1843, banned slavery and involuntary servitude in Oregon. Legislation in 1844 reinforced the ban on slavery but also introduced the state's first Black Exclusion law.

The law stated that any freed slaves and Black settlers had to leave the territory within two years. If they didn't, they were to be whipped "no more than 39 times." The law added that Black men and women in the territory could be flogged every six months until they left.

In 1849, a second exclusion law was passed, banning any Black person from moving into Oregon unless they were already living in the state.

Oregon became the only free state admitted in the Union with an exclusion clause in 1859, painting a clear picture of the anti-Black sentiments the small population of Black residents in Oregon faced.

To acknowledge that history, the Oregon Remembrance Project is inviting Coos Bay and Oregon residents to celebrate Juneteenth at a ceremony that will also recognize the only documented lynching of an African American in the state.

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The ceremony will include the installation of a historical marker that on one side describes history of lynching in America and on the other tells the story of Alonzo Tucker.

Tucker was a 28-year-old Black boxer from California and a gym owner in Coos Bay. A crowd of 300 people watched as Tucker was lynched by a local mob on Sept. 18, 1902, after he was accused of sexually assaulting a white woman who was the wife of a local coal miner. Several witnesses interviewed by media decades later said they believed the two had been involved in a consensual relationship.

“Fiend was lynched,” read the headline from the Weekly Oregon Statesman in 1902.

Tucker had been arrested and jailed after being accused of assaulting Mrs. Ben Dennis. Local miners gathered at the jail, enraged. Tucker briefly escaped after the marshal tried to move him for safety. An armed patrol, composed of the same angry miners, searched for Tucker throughout the night.

It was two “small boys,” Ray Prentice and Jay Gulverson, who found and drove Tucker from his hiding spot. Tucker was then followed by local miners into a nearby store.

Tucker was shot several times and died as the miners tried to return Tucker to the "scene of the crime." His body was hung from the 7th Street bridge.

"Well done is a consensus of public opinion," concluded the paper. No one was ever held accountable for the lynching, which occurred in broad daylight.

The murder prompted other Black residents to flee the Coos Bay area.

In 2018, Taylor Stewart founded the Oregon Remembrance Project after visiting the Equal Justice Initiative's National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

He is spearheading the event on Saturday, which he describes as the culmination of three years of work in Coos Bay to memorialize Tucker.

“Through this visible acknowledgment, we serve to memorialize Alonzo Tucker into the collective memory, collective consciousness of people in Coos Bay,” Stewart said. “This historical marker represents the idea that while we can’t change our past, we can always change our relationship to the past. We are looking to rewrite the ending to Alonzo Tucker’s story.”

Juneteenth, Stewart hopes, can be a day of annual reflection on the legacy of slavery and racism in the country.

“Slavery may have ended in 1865 but its legacy lives on,” Steward said. “While we celebrate the jubilation of the end of enslavement, it’s important that we recognize what followed. And what followed was nearly a century of domestic terrorism.”

The Oregon Black Pioneers, Portland NAACP and the mayors of Coos Bay and North Bend will be joining the Oregon Remembrance Project at the ceremony. The Coos History Museum, which also has an exhibit on Tucker’s lynching, will also be open and waiving admissions fees on Juneteenth.