71 Interesting Facts About Oregon

Last updated on December 26th, 2023

49. Oregon City marks the final stop for the wagons that traversed the Oregon trail. The historic trail began in Independence, Missouri and ended in this city. Today, there is an Interpretive Center in the city that offers tourists an interactive display of how life was like then as a pioneer.

50. Medford has a volcano called Roxy Ann Peak. It was named after Roxy Ann Bowen, a settler who once lived at the base of the peak. Roxy Ann Peak is over 3,500 feet tall. It is about 30 million years old and is dormant. It was settled by the Latgawa tribe about 8,000 years ago.

51. Astoria was named after John Jacob Astor, who established the city in 1810. The city is a favorite setting for Hollywood films, a relationship that began with the 1908 movie The Fisherman’s Bride. Beloved classics Short Circuit, Free Willy, Free Willy II, The Ring Two, and Into the Wild were also filmed here.

Welcome to Springfield, Oregon.
Welcome to Springfield, Oregon. Image via

52. The city of Springfield was named after a spring in a field found within its boundaries. It is also the inspiration for the fictional city of Springfield in The Simpsons. Matt Groening, who created the cartoon, is from Portland and considered using the name because it was a common city name in the U.S.

53. The city of Portland’s name was decided by a coin toss in 1845. The penny that decided the fate of the town can be seen in the Oregon Historical Society.

54. Beaverton was originally settled in by the Atfalati natives, who named it Chakeipi, which means “place of the beavers”. The settlement was close to a body of water where beavers built their dams. Its early Anglicized name was Beaverdam.

56. Corvallis was named by Joseph C. Avery who made a land claim next to Marys River. After surveying a townsite on his claim, Avery named the community Marysville, thought to be in homage to the Virgin Mary. Since Marysville was already the name of a town in California, the name was eventually changed into Corvallis – a compound of the Latin words “cor” (heart) and “vallis” (valley).

Toilet paper rolls.
Toilet paper rolls. Image credit – Marco Verch

57. The modern toilet paper with its perforated squares rolled into… well, a roll, was invented in Albany. There is some dispute over this, but a man named Seth Wheeler had a perforated wrapping paper wrapped around a tube patented in 1871. So we have a man from Albany to thank for the TP we know today.

58. Ashland’s history is closely bound to the history of the American railroad. The railroad is the reason why local livestock, milling, manufacturing, and orchard industries thrived in the 1880s onward. Ashland was right in the middle of freight and passenger transport between Portland and San Francisco. December 17, 1887 witnessed the driving of a golden spike to mark the full circle of the railroad system that runs around the United States.

59. The first railroad operating out of Portland was the mile-long railway to New Era. It was built in 1869 by the East Side Company.

60. Many goods from Europe and the East found their way to Oregon through established native trade routes. These trade routes were in place before the westward expansion.

61. One of the most popular expeditions in the US is that of Lewis and Clark. In 1804 they set out on a journey that took them through what is now known as Oregon.

Thor's Well.
Thor’s Well. Image credit – John Fowler.

62. Thor’s Well refers to a wide natural sinkhole that earned the nickname “drainpipe of the Pacific” because water that crashes into the rock that encloses it seems to disappear. To see the site at its most spectacular, come at high tide when ocean waves wash over the hole and disappear. Thor’s Well is near Cape Perpetua.

63. Painted Hills is a famous site in Wheeler County. This striking geologic formation is the result of time and Nature working together. The color of the hills formed due to the formation of layers upon layers of mudflows and volcanic ash deposits. The process took about 55 million years.

64. The Oregon Ducks is a Division 1 football team at the Autzen stadium. Their stadium is crowned the largest in the country.

65. You don’t need a golden ticket to find the Chocolate Waterfall – you only need to go to the Candy Basket in Portland. The waterfall is made of real chocolate. Built in 1991, the waterfall stands at 21 feet and is made from sculpted bronze and Italian marble. It circulates about 2,700 lbs. of liquid chocolate. It is not edible, however. The chocolate is several years old and exposed to the air and everyone who comes to visit the shop.

Jingasa Military Hat
Jingasa Military Hat in the shape of the traditional Korean scholar’s hat Mid-Edo Period 18th century CE Japan. Photographed at the Portland Art Museum.

66. The Hat Museum refers to the Ladd-Reingold House which was built in 1910. The home was owned by a Russian milliner named Rebecca Reingold. The house is not just a quirky tourist stop because of its collection of hats, it is also famous for its quirkier design. It features secret hiding places, a dumbwaiter, pocket doors, and even upside-down doors. In the 70s, the house passed on to a new owner named Alyce Cornyn-Selby who became its curator.

67. You will find the largest cheese factory in the world right there in Oregon. The Tillamook cheese factory opened in 1949 and is still going strong.

68. One of the most unique food from Oregon is the Cavemen Blue Cheese. It is made here in Central Point and started in 2009.

69. Marionberries are one of the native fruits of Oregon, so you must find yourself a slice or two of the famous Marionberry pie.Another iconic delicacy of Oregon is Pok Pok, or Vietnamese Fish Sauce Chicken Wings. Since opening, this has been one of the locals’ favorite places to eat.

70. The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum houses many famous aircraft but its most famous is the Spruce Goose. This is the fourth aircraft that was produced by the Hughes Corporation, designed by Henry Kaiser and Howard Hughes. The Spruce Goose is made of plywood (not spruce) and is designed as a seaplane.

71. The Civil Defense Center was built 30 ft. under Kelly Butte in 1952. It was a bunker that played close to the heart of the government and the American people’s trepidation about nuclear power. The center occupies 20,000 sq. ft. and could house the different branches of local government, a military liaison, and even hospitals. The thick, reinforced concrete was meant to withstand a strong explosion.

About the Flag of Oregon

Oregon state flag
The state flag of Oregon (obverse).

1. Design and Symbolism

The flag of Oregon is a two-sided banner with a navy-blue field and gold markings. The front contains the emblem from the state seal, while the reverse has a golden beaver.

On top of the emblem, you will see the words “State of Oregon.” Below it is “1859,” which is the year of its admission into the Union. It is the 33rd state of the US, hence the 33 stars around the shield.

An eagle spreads its wings above a shield while its talons hold an olive branch and arrows, just like the bald eagle in the US seal. The shield depicts a covered wagon, an elk, mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. A British ship exits the scene while a US steamer enters, signifying the end of British rule.

Below the wagon is a banner inscribed with “The Union.” You will see a plow, sheaf, and pickaxe — tools in early industries such as mining and farming.

Flag of Oregon (reverse)
The state flag of Oregon (reverse).

The American beaver is Oregon’s state animal. It often serves as the mascot of sports teams like the Portland Beavers and the Oregon State Beavers. Oregon is commonly known as “The Beaver State.”

2. Adoption

Oregon officially adopted the current flag on February 16, 1925, making it one of the last states to create a banner.

3. Technical Details

The Oregon flag has a ratio of 3:5. It has an optional gold fringe, typically seen during parades. The golden border is not a requirement for general use.

4. History

In 1857, Harvey Gordon designed the Oregon seal with the shield and eagle. It was in preparation for statehood which came two years later.

In 1925, the postmaster of Portland needed a flag for a US Post Office project. The Oregon state legislature made one based on the design of a previous military flag that included the seal.

By February 26, Gov. Walter Pierce signed the bill adopting the flag. Adjutant-General George White asked the local Meier & Frank Department Store to create the first flag using the proposed design.

The seamstresses Marjorie Kennedy and Blanche Cox worked on the project. They finished it in time for the festivities during the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington on April 15, 1925.

5. Flag Facts

The original Harvey Gordon design did not have an elk. The committee appointed by the Oregon Constitutional Convention added the animal.

Only 32 stars were present in the initial draft of the seal because Oregon anticipated being the 32nd state of the Union. However, Minnesota became a state in 1858 and pushed them to 33rd. The Oregon Legislative Assembly had to add another star.

The Oregon flag is the only state flag with different designs on the front and back, just as Paraguay is the only country to have a national flag with a different design on each side. It used to be a popular feature, but the rising cost and complexity of manufacturing made it impractical for many.

6. New Flag Proposals

Oregon celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2009. A newspaper called The Oregonian held a design contest for a new state flag. People could choose from ten entries and an 11th option to pick “NONE OF THE ABOVE.” The entry of Randall Gray got the most votes among the entries, but “NONE” had the highest number of votes overall, effectively showing that people want to keep the current flag.

In 2013, state senator Laurie Anderson proposed multiple changes, including a two-color field of blue and gold, a white star, and a single pattern for both sides. The bill did not make it out of the committee, so the old flag remains.

Oregon – quick facts and state symbols

State AbbreviationOR
State CapitalSalem
List Of 50 U.S. States And Their Capital
Largest CityPortland
State SizeTotal (Land + Water): 98,381 sq miles; Land Only: 95,997 sq miles
4,233,358 (Estimate July 1, 2023 from United States Census Bureau)
StatehoodFebruary 14, 1859
State rank by population27th
State rank by date of formation33rd
State rank by area9th
Number of Counties36
Complete list of 50 states and number of counties in each
Bordering StatesCalifornia, Idaho, Nevada, Washington
Highest PointMount Hood
11,249 ft (3,428.8 m)
Lowest pointPacific Ocean
Sea level
Mean elevation3,300 feet above seal level
Length 360 miles (580 km)
Width400 miles (640 km)
GovernorTina Kotek (D)
Electoral Votes7
State MottoAlis volat propriis (She flies with her own wings)
State NicknameBeaver State
% Water2.4
Noble prize winnersLinus Pauling (Chemistry, 1954)
Linus Pauling (Peace, 1962)
Carl Wieman (Physics, 2001)
Dale T. Mortensen (Economic Sciences, 2010)
Famous peopleDave Wilcox (Pro Football player)
Lauren Gale (Basketball player)
Kaitlin Olson
State FossilMetasequoia
State animalBeaver
State BirdWestern meadowlark
State ButterflyOregon Swallowtail Butterfly
State CrustaceanDungeness crab
State fishChinook salmon
State fruitPear
State FlowerOregon-grape
State GemstoneOregon sunstone
State InsectHoney bee
State MicrobeBrewer's yeast
State mineralOregonite & Josephinite
State MushroomPacific golden chanterelle
State NutHazelnut
State SeashellOregon hairy triton
State RockThunderegg
State TreeDouglas-fir
Longitude116° 28′ W to 124° 38′ W
Latitude42° N to 46° 18′ N
Time ZonePacific Time Zone, Mountain Time Zone
Area Codes458, 503, 541, 971
Table last updatedDecember 21, 2023