July 30, 2012

Oregon – “The Beaver State”


Oregon Map

Just the Facts…

bird – Western Meadowlark
flower – Oregon Grape
tree – Douglas Fir
capital – Salem
union – 33rd on February 14, 1859
population – a little over 3 1/2 million




The Basics 

Oregon is in the Pacific Northwest.  America bought the land as part of the Louisiana Purchase (remember – President Thomas Jefferson bought land from France in 1803?).  Oregon had been discovered before then – explorers on the Pacific Ocean noted a river that went inland from the coast and named it “Oregon.”  But, no one knew how much land was really in between the Mississippi River and that river, which is now known as the Columbia River and forms the border between Oregon and Washington.

Oregon is very diverse, with lush forests along the coast, mountains in the west/center, desert in the southeast, and plains in the northeast.  The southwestern part of Oregon is a continuation of California’s redwood forests.

The western part of the state is home to two mountain ranges, with the fertile Wilmette Valley in between.  The larger of these is the Cascade Mountains, which run the length of Oregon and is home to impressive peaks like Mount Hood.   The Cascades are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire – the rim all around the Pacific Ocean that has a lot of earthquakes and volcanoes due to the movement of teutonic plates deep within in the earth.


Its Claim to Fame

The Lewis and Clark Expedition reached the Pacific Ocean in Oregon.  After President Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory, he sent two men to explore what he just bought – Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.  It took the men over two years to explore and map the new land.  They left Missouri in May, 1804 and reached the Pacific Ocean in November, 1805.  They stayed in Oregon almost six months before making the journey home.  The Expedition was an important event in the history of the Pacific Northwest because it connected the area to the rest of America for the first time.

Many people traveled west by following the Oregon Trail.  It was a wagon trail that went from Missouri all the way to Oregon – over 2,000 miles!  People would pack all their possessions into a covered wagon and make the journeys in caravans.  Some people estimate that over 400,000 people traveled the Oregon Trail in search of a new life out west.   People didn’t use the Oregon Trail as much once railroad tracks were built farther and farther west, eventually connecting the east and west coasts by the transcontinental railroad.


What Makes it Tick

Oregon has a rich logging history and is still a major producer of timber.  About half the state is covered in forests.  Like many other places, logging first took place near rivers (the Columbia River in particular).  Logs were cut down and floated down the Columbia River to sawmills, where they were cut into lumber boards.  Once the trees near the rivers had been cut, people had to develop other ways of getting the logs to the sawmills.

The Columbia River is one of the best rivers for salmon fishing in the America, especially where it meets the Pacific Ocean.  Oregon has a strong fishing industry, catching everything from salmon and halibut to scallops and shrimp to crab and mussels.

Oregon is home to quite a few farms and ranches.  The Wilmette Valley produces cranberries, raspberries, other fruits, vegetables and dairy products.  The eastern part of Oregon has cattle ranches and farms that grow grain such as wheat and oats.  And, don’t forget the Christmas trees. Oregon grows more Christmas trees than any other state!  Do you get a live Christmas tree? If so, it was probably grown in Oregon!

Nike is headquartered in Oregon.  Nike was started in the 1960s by the track and field coach for University of Oregon and one of his star runners.   The two started selling tennis shoes out of the trunk of heir cars!  And, the company took off from there.  Now it makes almost everything that has to do with sports, and it owns a lot of companies that do the same.  Do you have Nike tennis shoes? If you don’t, chances are you have something made or owned by Nike – a Nike golf shirt, Umbro soccer shorts, Jordan basketball shoes or Converse shoes.


If You Visited

If you visited Oregon, you might drive by the world’s smallest park in Portland, Mills End Park.  It is two feet wide!  It is part of the median of a street – and was originally dedicated as a Leprechaun colony!

If you visited, you might go to Crater Lake National Park.  Crater Lake is what is left of an ancient volcano.  The volcano eruption was so large and powerful that the whole peak of the mountain disappeared, leaving a huge crater that filled with water.  Crater Lake is over 1,000 feet deep – the deepest lake in America!  Or, you may go skiing on Mount Hood, Oregon’s highest mountain.  Mount Hood is a dormant volcano that is home to over 10 glaciers!  It is a  popular place for skiing, hiking, and mountain climbing.


Want to Know More? 

Check our Oregon state scrapbook for an industry map, state symbols and information we received from the Governor and Board of Tourism.

Do you live in Oregon?  Or, maybe you have visited Oregon?  We want to hear from you!!  Post a comment at the end of this page.

  • What is your very favorite thing about Oregon?
  • What is your favorite thing to eat?
  • What is your favorite thing to do?
  • What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?

Do you have any photos of Oregon to share? Email them to: info@grandtourkids.com. Or, post them to our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GrandTourKids

Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about Oregon.  Visit these websites to learn more: