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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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Gold Ray Dam
Credit: Finetooth

The former Gold Ray Dam on the Rogue River upstream of Gold Hill with a fish ladder on the far bank. The dam, which made fish passage difficult, was removed in 2010. The concrete structure was about 35 feet (11 m) high.

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Stella Nickell (born August 7, 1943) is an American woman who was sentenced to 90 years in prison for product tampering after she poisoned Excedrin capsules with lethal cyanide, resulting in the deaths of her husband Bruce and of Susan Snow. Her May 1988 conviction and prison sentence were the first under federal product tampering laws instituted after the Chicago Tylenol murders. She was born Stella Maudine Stephenson in Colton, Oregon, and by age sixteen, she was pregnant with her daughter Cynthia. Nickell then moved to Southern California, married, and had another daughter. She began to have various legal troubles, including a conviction for fraud in 1968. In 1974, she met Bruce Nickell and the two were married in 1976. On June 5, 1986, Bruce came home from work with a headache and took four Extra-Strength Excedrin capsules from a bottle in their home, then collapsed minutes later. Bruce died shortly thereafter, but his death was initially ruled to be by natural causes. After the death of Susan Snow within a week, an investigation was launched and cyanide was discovered to have caused both deaths. After a long investigation, Stella was tried and on May 9, 1988, she was found guilty of all charges.

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Pond at Westmoreland Park


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Mary's Club marquee in 2014
Mary's Club is the oldest strip club in Portland, Oregon, in the United States. In 1954, Roy Keller bought the business from Mary Duerst Hemming, who owned and operated Mary's as a piano bar beginning in the 1930s. Keller initially hired go-go dancers as entertainment during the piano player's breaks, then quickly hired them full-time due to their popularity. Topless dancers wearing pasties were introduced in 1955. The club also featured comics, musicians, singers and other acts. All-nude dancing began immediately following a judge's 1985 ruling against City of Portland ordinances that forbid it in places that served alcohol. Former strippers include Courtney Love and Christine Jorgensen, though the club is known for featuring long-term dancers who are loyal to the family business. Since Keller's death in 2006, Mary's Club is owned and operated by his daughter Vicki. Mary's has become a Portland institution, having been included in several "best of" lists for strip clubs, and its neon sign is considered a landmark. The club has appeared in several films, including Bongwater (1997) and Brainsmasher... A Love Story (1993), and has been included in walking tours of the city.

State facts

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



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Z. F. Moody
Never before in the history of our State have Oregonians had so much to be congratulated upon. No State in the Union is receiving more attention. Her agricultural products, her mild climate,her great natural resources, invite the immigrant, the capitalist and the pleasure seeker, while the sound basis upon which rest her finances, and the fact that within two years her taxable property has increased more than ten millions of dollars, clearly indicate that the State, in the face of a general business depression throughout the land, is in no danger of deterioration of decay.
Z. F. Moody, 1885, Biennial Message

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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