The beautiful state of Oregon is in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. It is bordered by Washington to the north across the Columbia River (world renowned for wind surfing), Idaho to the east (Hells Canyon along the Snake River in the northeastern corner is the deepest canyon in the continental United States), California to the southwest (the giant Redwoods are found here), and Nevada to the southeast.
Oregon has something to offer everyone, from the rugged Pacific Coast to the furtile Willamette Valley full of vineyards and orchards, across mountainous peaks of the Cascades to the wild west high desert terrain of Eastern Oregon where wild herds of mustangs still roam, and real cowboys ride horses to mend the fences.
Area: 96,981 sq mi (251,181 sq km).
Population: (2000) 3,421,399, a 20.4% increase since the 1990 census.
Largest city: Portland.
Motto: The Union.
State bird: Western meadowlark.
State flower: Oregon grape.
State tree: Douglas fir.
Oregon's major sources of farm income are greenhouse products, wheat, cattle (huge herds graze on the plateaus E of the Cascades), and dairy items. Hay, wheat, pears, and onions are important, and the state is one of the nation's leading producers of snap beans, peppermint, sweet cherries (orchards are particularly numerous in the N Willamette Valley), broccoli, and strawberries. Oregon has developed an important and growing wine industry since 1980.
Abundant, cheap electric power is supplied by numerous dams, most notably those on the Columbia River: Bonneville Dam, The Dalles Dam, and McNary Dam. The John Day Dam is one of the largest hydroelectric generators in the world. The dams also aid in flood control and navigation. The Bonneville Dam, in the steep gorge where the Columbia River pierces the Cascades, enables large vessels to travel far inland, and although river traffic is less vital than formerly, the Columbia River cities still serve as transport centers for a vast hinterland to the east.
Oregon's river resources are one of its greatest assets. Its salmon-fishing industry, centered around Astoria, is one of the world's largest; other catches are tuna and crabs. Many pristine rivers such as the Deschutes and Rogue River ("The River Wild") can be fished or floated without seeing another soul.
*Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2003, with additional content and editing by Erik Sutton, 2006