- from Oregon
Oregon, the state you may call home. It’s a diverse gathering of resources, industry, cities, farms, historic landmarks, and quirky facts.
Facts like the state’s nickname, Beaver State. It was chosen because of the important role the beaver played in Oregon’s history. Like the state motto, Alis volat propriis. The words mean “She flies with her own wings.” They honor the state’s independent spirit. Like the state bird, the western meadowlark, chosen by the state’s school children in 1927. And like the state flower – the Oregon grape. The flower was used by Native Americans as a medicine. It honors the state’s native peoples.
Oregon is a state with a rich history of people whose ancestors are from around the world and from right here on this land. Oregon is surely a one-of-a-kind kind of place.
◀ It all happens in Silicon Forest. “All” meaning Oregon’s high-tech industry. The biggest group of high-tech companies in the state are around Portland. They include producers of software and information technology (IT). They also include producers of computers and other electronics. These companies make some of the world’s most advanced computer chips. Oregon is more dependent on trade than almost any other state. It may export over $10 billion worth of products in a single year!
About half of Oregon’s land is forests. It should be no surprise then that Oregon is the biggest producer of lumber in the U.S. Forestry and wood products are central to many rural towns. In 1991, the state legislature founded the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI). The purpose of OFRI is to help educate people about forests and forest products. ▶
▲ Oregon has mountains, lakes, rivers, and streams. It is surely the place for people who love the outdoors. So it’s no wonder the state is a center for manufacturing outdoor clothing and equipment. The mountains, lakes, and rivers are ideal places to test new products. Several nationally known manufacturers got their start in Oregon. And are still there.
◀ The Oregon Caves are a national monument. Located in the Siskiyou Mountains, they are made up of three miles of dark, twisting passages. The caves were formed by rainwater soaking into the soil. Over eons of time, the water ate into marble rock below. That’s how the passageways were formed. The caves are full of stalactite, stalagmites, and columns. These features are still forming. They are being shaped slowly by a permanent stream flowing through the passageways.
▲ They’re called the Painted Hills. And it’s not hard to see why. Notice the red, yellow, gold, and black colors. These are fossil soils. They were parts of forests from about 33 millions years ago. The Painted Hills are in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. To protect the fossil soils, parts of the five trails are made of packed dirt. “Don’t hurt the dirt!” is its slogan.
▲ Portland is Oregon’s biggest city. Its nickname is Stumptown. In the mid-1800s, Portland was growing fast. Around 640 acres of trees were cut down to make room for the people. Cutting down the trees was easy. Pulling out the stumps was tough. So for a while, they were left right where they were. With no trees, flooding in the area was a big problem. The unpaved roads became muddy. In some places, people jumped from stump to stump.
How did Portland come to be named Portland, you might ask. It came down to the toss of a coin. In 1845, two businesspeople owned most of the land. One was from Massachusetts. He wanted the town’s name to be Boston, after the city in his state. The other was from Maine. He wanted the name to be Portland, after the city in his state. To decide, they flipped a penny. Guess who won the flip. ▶
◀ Many people think of Portland as the country’s number one “green” city. In this sense, green means “environmentally friendly.” There are lots of reasons. Half of the city’s power comes from renewable sources like wind. A great many people travel to work by bike or bus, not private cars. Portland has more parks per person than any other city in the country. Perhaps the story behind the city’s nickname makes residents even more interested in living “green.”
▲ Salem is Oregon’s capital city. The National Arbor Day Foundation has named Salem “Tree City USA.” Why? Because of the way the city has planned and kept its forests. Salem is known for Bush’s Pasture Park. This is a 91-acre green space on the original lands of the Kalapuya tribe. Named for Portland banker Asahel Bush, the park includes trees and other plants native to Oregon. A yearly art fair and festival are held here.