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The Oregon Portal

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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Bareback bronco rider at the St. Paul Rodeo in St. Paul
Credit: Cacophony

Since 1936 the annual St. Paul Rodeo has been held in the small French Prairie town of St. Paul. Held around the Fourth-of-July, festivities include a Professional Bull Riders event, a carnival, and fireworks display .

Selected biography

Betty R. Roberts
Betty Cantrell Roberts (1923–2011) was a politician and judge in the U.S. state of Oregon. She was the 83rd Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, the highest state court in Oregon. She was the first woman on the Oregon Supreme Court, and had also been the first woman on the Oregon Court of Appeals. Roberts served from 1982 to 1986 on the high court and from 1977 to 1982 on the Court of Appeals. Roberts was born in Texas in 1923, growing-up in that state during the Great Depression of the 1930s. After attending Texas Wesleyan College for one year starting in 1941, she married and left school, eventually moving to Oregon. In 1958, Roberts earned a bachelor of science degree from Portland State University, followed by a masters degree at the University of Oregon, and in 1966, a JD from Lewis & Clark Law School. In 1964, Roberts the Democrat won election to the Oregon House of Representatives, serving until 1968 when she was elected to the Oregon Senate. During the 1975 legislature, Betty served in the Senate where both her step-daughter Mary Wendy Roberts and then-husband Frank L. Roberts also served. She was married three times, including to Frank and later to Keith Skelton, whom she would also serve with in the Oregon Legislature. Roberts lost her bid to become Oregon's governor in 1974, losing in the primary election, and then lost a campaign to become a United States Senator in the fall election. Then in 1977, Oregon Governor Robert W. Straub appointed Betty Roberts as the first woman to the Oregon Court of Appeals. In 1982, Governor Victor G. Atiyeh appointed her as the first woman to the Oregon Supreme Court where she served until 1986. She was a private mediator and senior judge until her death due to pulmonary fibrosis.

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Lewis and Clark
The Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806), was headed by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. It was the first American overland expedition to the Pacific coast and back. In 1804, the Louisiana Purchase sparked interest in expansion to the west coast. A few weeks after the purchase, President Thomas Jefferson, an advocate of western expansion, had the Congress appropriate $2,500 for an expedition. The American expedition to the Pacific northwest was intended to study the Indian tribes, botany, geology, Western terrain and wildlife in the region, as well as evaluate the potential interference of British and French Canadian hunters and trappers who were already well established in the area. Jefferson selected Captain Meriwether Lewis to lead the expedition, afterwards known as the Corps of Discovery. Lewis selected William Clark as his partner, with 31 others rounding out the group. After beginning the expedition in Spring 1804, they traveled up the Missouri River and built Fort Mandan in present day North Dakota for the first winter. The Corps of Discovery then crossed the Rocky Mountains and journeyed down the Columbia River to the Oregon Coast, arriving at the Pacific Ocean in November 1805. The second winter was spent at Fort Clatsop in present day Oregon where they prepared for the journey home. Leaving Fort Clatsop in April 1806, they reached St. Louis on September 23, 1806, ending the expedition.

State facts

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



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A lake in Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
Credit: Adumbvoget
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens (9.49 acres) are botanical gardens located on SE 28 Avenue between Eastmoreland Golf Course and Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, USA. It is affectionately known as the "Rhody Gardens." Although peak blooming times are March to June, blooms can be found in abundance year round.

Selected quote

George Abernethy
This is destined to be a very wealthy portion of the United States, and, if to this we can add the most temperate, nothing will prevent our rising, and becoming a valuable acquisition to the union. Much power now lies in your hands, and, I sincerely hope, we may commence our new career with a law in our statute books, prohibiting the manufacture and sale of ardent spirits in Oregon territory.
George Abernethy, 1849, Legislative 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