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The Oregon Portal

Location of Oregon on US map

Location 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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Broadway Bridge, Portland
Credit: Steve Morgan

The Broadway Bridge, in Portland, Oregon, with its bascule draw span opened for a ship. Built in 1913, the Broadway Bridge is one of three Willamette River bridges in the downtown Portland area that are more than 100 years old and one of four that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It also carries the Portland Streetcar's eastside line.

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David P. Thompson
David Preston Thompson (November 8, 1834 – December 14, 1901) was a United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, a mayor of Portland, Oregon, served in the Oregon State Senate, and a business person involved with the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company. Thompson was born in Cadiz, Ohio, of Irish and Scottish descent. In 1853 at the age of 19 Thompson moved to Oregon Territory. There he helped build the a railroad around Willamette Falls near Oregon City, which was the first railroad in Oregon. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Thompson enlisted in the Army where he rose to the rank of captain in the First Oregon Cavalry. In 1868 David Thompson served in the state senate representing Clackamas County as a Republican. Then in 1874 he was appointed by the President as the governor of Idaho Territory, and served from 1875 to 1876. Thompson returned to the Oregon Legislature representing Multnomah County in 1878. From June 1879 until June 1882 he served consecutive terms as the Mayor of Portland, before returning to the legislature in 1889. In 1890, he lost the election for Oregon Governor as the Republican nominee, but in 1892 President Harrison appointed Thompson as United States minister to the Ottoman Empire where he served until resigning in 1893. David Thompson died December 14, 1901, in Portland. He donated a fountain to Portland located in downtown, and after his death his family donated a statue named The coming of the White Man that stands in Washington Park.

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Salem First United Methodist Church


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Rural northeast Portland, Oregon
Ballot Measure 37 was a citizens' initiative passed in 2004, which requires that government compensate owners whose property value has been diminished by land-use regulations, or else waive the regulations. It followed Oregon Ballot Measure 7 passed in 2000 with similar provissions that had been struct down by the Oregon Supreme Court. Measure 37 represents a major change of course from Oregon's legacy of land use planning, and has generated a great deal of controversy. Passage led to many large land owners filing claims across the state that totaled in the millions of dollars each. The controversy surrounding these claims and the possibility of less controlled growth led lawmakers and other groups to propose changes to the law. Changes would exempt many larger developments from the provisions of Measure 37, while explicitly allowing some of the smaller claims, such as families building up to three houses on a single lot. These changes were turned into Measure 49. In a special election in November 2007, Measure 49 was passed by Oregon voters after one of the most expensive campaigns in the state's history.

State facts

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



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Skyline of downtown Portland, Oregon
Credit: Eric Baetscher
The skyline of downtown Portland, Oregon. Taken from the east waterfront.

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La Fayette Grover
We are now entering upon an important period of our development as a State. Our infancy as a Territorial Government has passed into history. Our early struggle as a young State of the Union has already turned the point of successful trial,and we now stand in the threshold of coming strength and power. With a territory ranking among the largest of the sisterhood, with a soil equal to the best, and a climate of a salubrity and healthfulness enjoyed by none other,with resources for the employment of industry of great variety and extent, it would seem difficult to predict for Oregon anything short of a most successful career. In fact, with a creditable management of public affairs, nothing stands in the way of our prosperity.
La Fayette Grover, 1870, Inaugural Address

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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