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The Oregon Portal

Raised-relief map of Oregon

Relief map of Oregon

Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It borders the Pacific Ocean on the west, Washington on the north, Idaho on the east, and California and Nevada on the south. The Columbia and Snake Rivers form, respectively, much of its northern and eastern borders. Between two north-south mountain ranges in western Oregon—the Oregon Coast Range and the Cascade Mountain Range—lies the Willamette Valley, the most densely populated and agriculturally productive region of the state.

Oregon has one of the most diverse landscapes of any state in the U.S. It is well known for its tall, dense forests; its accessible and scenic Pacific coastline; and its rugged, glaciated Cascade volcanoes. Other areas include semiarid scrublands, prairies, and deserts that cover approximately half the state in eastern and north-central Oregon.

Oregon's population in 2010 was about 3.8 million, a 12% increase over 2000. Oregon's population is largely concentrated in the Willamette Valley, which stretches from Eugene through Salem and Corvallis to Portland, Oregon's largest city.

The origin of the name Oregon is unknown. One account, advanced by George R. Stewart in a 1944 article in American Speech, was endorsed as the "most plausible explanation" in the book Oregon Geographic Names. According to Stewart, the name came from an engraver's error in a French map published in the early 1700s, on which the Ouisiconsink (Wisconsin) River was spelled "Ouaricon-sint", broken on two lines with the -sint below, so that there appeared to be a river flowing to the west named "Ouaricon".

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The former Galleria and Olds, Wortman and King Department Store
Credit: Ipoellet

The Galleria shopping center at night in downtown Portland with the Fox Tower in the background. The building is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places under its historic name of Olds, Wortman and King Department Store.

Selected biography

Ken Kesey (1935–2001) was an American author, best known for his novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and as a counter-cultural figure. He is sometimes considered a link between the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s. He was born in Colorado and grew up in Springfield, Oregon. After high school he graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree from the journalism school, before receiving a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship and moving on to Stanford University. At Stanford he volunteered for the CIA's Project MKULTRA and was exposed to a variety of drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, cocaine, and DMT. These experiences would contribute to his writings. Kesey's first book was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, published in 1962. When the publication of his second novel, Sometimes a Great Notion, required his presence in New York in 1964, Kesey, Neal Cassady, and others in a group of friends they called the "Merry Pranksters" took a cross-country trip in a school bus nicknamed "Furthur" or Further. This trip, described in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (and later in Kesey's own screenplay "The Further Inquiry") was the group's attempt to create art out of everyday life. In New York, Cassady introduced Kesey to Jack Kerouac and to Allen Ginsberg, who in turn introduced them to Timothy Leary. Sometimes a Great Notion was made into a 1971 film starring Paul Newman; it was nominated for two Academy Awards. In 1966, Kesey was arrested for possession of marijuana and eventually spent five months in jail. He later returned to Oregon, where he lived the rest of his life. Kesey died on November 10, 2001, following an operation for liver cancer.

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Upper and Lower Table Rock


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Distinctive class canopy at the park
Director Park (officially Simon and Helen Director Park) is a city park in Portland in the U.S. state of Oregon. Opened in 2009 at a cost of $9.5 million, it covers a 700-space underground parking garage, which connects underground to the Fox Tower and the incomplete Park Avenue West Tower. Located in downtown on Southwest Park Avenue, the nearly half-acre urban park lacks any natural areas and contains little vegetation. Features at the park include a fountain, artworks, a cafe, and a distinctive glass canopy. Director Park was designed by Laurie Olin of the Olin Partnership, Philadelphia, and the Portland-based architectural firm ZGF Partnership. It contains a water fountain and a distinctive class canopy. The park is part of what had originally been planned as a corridor of consecutive public parks stretching across downtown Portland. This plan included what are today the South Park Blocks and the North Park Blocks. Proposals to connect the two sets of park blocks arose in the 1970s, and in 1998 businessman Tom Moyer made a proposal for what became Director Park. Planning began in the mid-2000s, and construction began in 2008. A cafe is also operated in the park.

State facts

State symbols:

American beaver
Western meadowlark
Chinook salmon
Oregon grape
Oregon Swallowtail butterfly
Douglas fir



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Hells Canyon
Credit: Adumbvoget
Hells Canyon is a ten mile wide canyon located along the border of northeastern Oregon and western Idaho in the United States. It is North America's deepest river gorge at 7,993 feet (2436 m) and the most important feature of Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

Selected quote

Ronald Reagan
I also want to applaud you for helping the people of Oregon fight a misguided minority that would legalize marijuana. That would be the worst possible message to send to our young people.
Ronald Reagan, 1986

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Oregon State Capital rotunda
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Lighthouse of Cape Meares, Oregon


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Coordinates: 44°00′N 120°30′W / 44°N 120.5°W / 44; -120.5