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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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Wreck of the Peter Iredale
Credit: Robert Bradshaw

The wreck of the Peter Iredale, a four-masted steel barque sailing vessel that ran ashore October 25, 1906, on the Oregon coast en route to the Columbia River. It was abandoned on Clatsop Spit near Fort Stevens in Warrenton about four miles (6 km) south of the Columbia River channel.

Selected biography

Dr. Douglas C. Engelbart in 2008
Dr. Douglas Engelbart (January 30, 1925 – July 2, 2013) was an American inventor of Swedish and Norwegian descent. He was born in Oregon. As a World War II naval radio technician based in the Philippines, Engelbart was inspired by Vannevar Bush's article "As We May Think". Engelbart received a Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Oregon State University in 1948, a B.Eng. from UC Berkeley in 1952, and a Ph.D. in EECS from UC Berkeley in 1955. At Stanford Research Institute, Engelbart was the primary force behind the design and development of the On-Line System, or NLS. He and his team at the Augmentation Research Center developed computer-interface elements such as bit-mapped screens, groupware, hypertext and precursors to the graphical user interface. In 1967, Engelbart applied for and later received a patent for the wooden shell with two metal wheels (computer mouse). Engelbart later revealed that it was nicknamed the "mouse" because the tail came out the end. He would also work on the ARPANET, the precursor of the Internet. In later years he moved to the private firm Tymshare after SRI was transferred to the company. McDonnell Douglas took over the company in 1982, and in 1986 he left the company. In 1988, he founded his own company, the Bootstrap Institute, which was located in Menlo Park, California.

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Frederick Van Voorhies Holman


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Downtown Salem
Salem /ˈsləm/ is the capital of the U.S. state of Oregon, and the county seat of Marion County. It is located in the center of the Willamette Valley alongside the Willamette River, which runs north through the city. The river forms the boundary between Marion and Polk County, and the city neighborhood of West Salem is in Polk County. Salem had a population of 136,924 at the 2000 census, with an officially estimated population of 154,510 on July 1, 2008, making it the third largest city in the state after Portland and Eugene. Salem is the principal city of the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area, a metropolitan area that covers Marion and Polk counties and had a combined population of 347,214 at the 2000 census. A 2007 estimate placed the metropolitan population at 378,570, the state's second largest. Salem was founded in 1842, became the capital of the Oregon Territory in 1851, and was incorporated in 1857. The city is home to Willamette University and Corban University, as well as the main city in the Salem-Keizer School District and is home to the main campus of Chemeketa Community College. Other schools include the Chemawa Indian School, Oregon School for the Blind, and the Oregon School for the Deaf. The state of Oregon is the largest employer in the city, with Salem Hospital as the largest private employer. Transportation includes public transit from Salem-Keizer Transit, Amtrak service, and non-commercial air travel at McNary Field. Major roads include Interstate 5, Oregon Route 99E, and Oregon Route 22 which connects West Salem across the Willamette River via the Marion Street and Center Street bridges.

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

Timberline Lodge, exterior shots used to represent fictional Overlook Hotel in The Shining
That's swell. I like ya, Lloyd. I always liked ya. You were always the best of 'em. Best god-damn bartender from Timbuktu to Portland, Maine - or Portland, Oregon for that matter.

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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