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 traveled 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
Population: 3,831,074 (2010)
Size: 98,379 square miles
Nickname(s): Beaver State
Motto: She Flies With Her Own Wings
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Tree: Douglas Fir
Flower: Oregon Grape
Bird: Western Meadowlark
- 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 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 1843, 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.