The old wild west, hipsters, and beavers are some of the things we instantly associate with Oregon, but what else is Oregon famous for?
Situated in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon shares a border with Washington State to the north, Idaho to the East, and California and Nevada to the South. Oregon was only the 33rd state to join the union when it ratified the constitution in 1859.
Without any delays, let’s explore what is Oregon known for!
15 things Oregon is famous for
Lewis and Clark’s expedition
The Lewis and Clark expedition is possibly the most important event in Oregon history. Also known as the Corps of Discovery expedition, it began in 1804 with the goal of exploring the lands west of the Mississippi River that comprised the Louisiana Purchase and the Pacific Northwest.
Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, the expedition lasted over two years and went from Camp Dubois, Illinois, went up the Missouri River, crossed the continental divide, and then don the Columbia River into the Pacific Ocean. The return trip was made between March and September of 1806.
Composed of less than 50 men, Captain Lewis, and his friend, Second Lieutenant Clark led the excursion. It had to face tremendous difficulties, including harsh weather, injuries, starvation, disease, and hostile Native Americans.
This 8000-mile journey is considered a significant chapter in American exploration and deemed a huge success as it provided geographic and cultural knowledge of uncharted areas and a stronger claim of the USA to the northwest lands.
With 2170 miles, the Oregon Trail was one of the most important emigrant routes in the USA. It connected the Missouri River to Willamette Valley in Oregon, passing through portions of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho.
Initially created by fur traders and trappers in Oregon in the 18th century, it was originally only passable on foot or horseback, but it eventually became a large-wheeled wagon route and one of the two most important migrant trails of the 19th century. The other was the Santa Fe trail that went from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fé, New Mexico.
When the first Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869, the Oregon trail became utterly obsolete, as the trip would take now in one week instead of six months. Furthermore, the Oregon trail was challenging with harsh weather and natural environment, diseases, and even wars with the Native American tribes.
The Oregon trail doesn’t really exist anymore, but there are still sections of the historical route that can be hiked, and some attractions can take you back in time. Another reason why the Oregon Trail is so well known is the ancient, popular video game with the same name.
Beavers are one of the main things Oregon is famous for. So much so that the most popular nickname of Oregon is “the beaver state.” It appears on the state flag and is the official state animal.
The nickname originated in the early 19th century when fur hats were fashionable, and Oregon streams were an important source of beaver pelts. The trapping routes used by early “mountain men” later became known as “The Oregon Trail,” as explained above.
Pelts and fur trading were a staple of Oregon’s economy during the 19th century and early 20th. Besides their crucial part in the early development of Oregon, Beavers are also iconic, as they are the largest rodent in North America.
Today, beavers are no longer directly crucial to the state’s economy, but they are still common in Oregon’s waterways and responsible for creating habitats for fish and other wildlife.
Beavers may be the most iconic wildlife in Oregon, but it is far from the only one. Oregon is known for having excellent environmental policies, diverse wildlife, and popular protected areas.
The state is home to a wide variety of animals. Some of the most popular are black bears, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, and mountain lions. There are also several species of fish, such as salmon and steelhead.
Oregon is also popular among ornithophiles, as it has many species of birds, such as the Bald Eagle, Osprey, and Peregrine Falcon. On the other hand, the coastal areas have large populations of gray whales, sea lions, and seals.
The easiest way to find these beautiful animals is by visiting the many protected sites and reservations. Some of the best include Mount Hood National Forest, Crater Lake National Park, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, and Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
These protected areas typically offer excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography.
What is Oregon famous for? Progressive politics is one of the things most people immediately think of.
Oregon is considered a liberal/progressive state, especially in the big cities and Portland in particular, where progressive political culture and support for left-wing causes are usually very high.
The Democratic Party tends to be more liberal and progressive on social issues; Thus, it usually has very high voting percentages and strong presences in Oregon.
Progressive policies such as universal healthcare, renewable energy, and progressive taxation. have been prevalent in Oregon. The state has also been a pioneer in other progressive political reforms, such as mail-in voting, automatic voter registration, and open primaries.
Another thing Oregon is known for is the prevalence of hipsters and hipster culture. A countercultural attitude, alternative fashion (rimmed glasses, vintage clothing), independent music, and a lively art scene are some of the main characteristics of hipster culture.
This is primarily an urban culture, and it is prevalent in Portland, Oregon, due to its counter-culture tradition, vibrant art and music scene, and progressive politics. The city became a hub of hipster culture, with a thriving creative community and a concentration of independent businesses.
Coffee Shops, microbreweries, and more
Oregon’s long tradition of supporting local businesses has created a culture that values and encourages small, independently-owned shops and cafes.
The prevalence of the hipster urban subculture is another reason why Oregon cities have so many coffee shops, microbreweries, record stores, vintage clothing shops, and other businesses that cater to hipsters.
Portland, in particular, has become a hub for coffee culture, with many independent coffee shops, roasters, and coffee-centric events and festivals. Plus, the emphasis on sustainability led to the focus on artisanal and specialty coffee.
Craft beer brewery has a similar story with people looking for artisanal and specialty beers with small independent owners. Although this business is so successful that Portland has more than 60 breweries within the city limits, making it the city with more breweries worldwide.
What is Oregon famous for producing? Timber is possibly the most well-known product and export of the state of Oregon.
The Oregon timber industry is one of the most important in the state, providing jobs and support for rural communities. Plywood, particleboard, and other wood products are also prevalent in the state.
Oregon is known for producing significant quantities and quality of species: Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, and western hemlock. These are primarily used in construction, paper production, and other wood products.
While timber is an essential asset of the state, its production is also controversial as there are concerns about the environmental impact of logging and forest management.
Besides Timber, Oregon is also known for producing hazelnuts (also known as filberts). It is the largest producer in the USA and the second in the world, only behind Turkey.
The region between Eugene and Portland, known as the Willamette Valley, is the best area in the state for Hazelnut farming due to the mild climate and good soils.
Production of Hazelnuts started in the early 20th century and has grown throughout the years. It is responsible for about 90% of the US production and exports of this nut, which is essential for producing chocolate, confections, baked goods, and ice cream.
The ultra-famous animated sitcom “The Simpsons” is usually associated with the state of Oregon. Although, the series doesn’t take place there, nor is it produced in Oregon.
Matt Groening, the creator and producer of The Simpsons, is from Portland, Oregon, and has declared that the Springfield where the Simpsons live is loosely based on Springfield, Oregon.
However, it is supposed to be located anywhere in the USA, and the name was chosen because there are many Springfield towns in the US.
The most famous company that originated in Oregon is Nike. Today it is one of the largest companies in the US, the world’s largest producer of athletic shoes and apparel, and one of the biggest sports equipment manufacturers.
Created in 1964, Nike has its headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. Nike is a giant with almost 50 B USD in revenues and about 80 000 workers worldwide. It sponsors many high-profile athletes and sports teams worldwide, making it one of the most popular brands in the world.
Nike’s two most highly recognized trademarks are the Swoosh logo and the “just do it” slogan.
Mount Hood is the most iconic natural wonder in Oregon and one of its most famous landmarks. It is also a potentially active stratovolcano, though the eruption probability is relatively low.
Located only about 50 mi (80 km) from Portland, Oregon’s highest mountain has one of the largest prominences of the 48 contiguous states. It also is the only mountain in North America with year-round lift-served skiing.
Home to 1,000 mi (1,600 km) of trails, Mount Hood, is a very popular hiking destination. The most popular are probably Timberline Trail, which circumnavigates the entire mountain, and Coopers Spur Trail, which leads to the highest reachable hiking point.
It is possible and very popular to climb Mount Hood’s summit. Still, it is a technical climb that can only the achieved with experience, ropes, ice axes, crampons, and other technical mountaineering gear. Despite this, about 10 000 attempt to climb it every year.
Another famous natural landmark in Oregon is Crater Lake. Located in south-central Oregon, this volcanic crater lake is famous for its deep blue color and crystal clear water.
The lake almost fills a 655-meter-deep caldera that formed due to the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. As no river flows in or out of Crater Lake, water only exists in the lake through evaporation and enters by rain and snowfall.
Crater Lake is also known for its enormous profundity. With a maximum depth of 594 meters, it is the deepest lake in the USD and the ninth in the world. If we were to consider the average depth, it would be the third in the world.
The lake and surrounding areas are part of the Crater Lake National Park. Some of the most popular activities in and around the lake include hiking, biking, fishing, and cross-country skiing. It is also possible to swim in the lake, in the designated areas – as long as you can bear the cold water.
Oregon is home to a stunning coastline with marvelous views and remarkable natural areas. Yet, the most famous coastal area is Cannon Beach, with its long stretch of sand and the iconic Haystack Rock perching on the horizon.
Named one of the 100 most beautiful places by National Geographic in 2013, it is only 90 minutes from Portland and the perfect place for a beach getaway where you can swim, sunbathe, and beach comb surrounded by beautiful scenery.
Besides the expansive beach and the 235-foot monolith, the area is also popular for hiking, bird-watching, fishing, and lovely picnic areas. The town of Cannon Beach is famous for its art galleries, specialty shops, and cafes.
Fun facts about Oregon
Finally, Oregon holds various records and is home to some unusual and fun facts. Many of those Oregon fun facts are globally recognized, helping further the state’s popularity. Let’s explore some of the most curious and well-known:
- The Oregon flag is unique among the US states. It is the only different design on each side. The front has the state seal, while the back has a golden beaver.
- Portland has more strip clubs per capita than any other city in the USA.
- Oregon has no sales tax.
- Oregon has more than 750 vineyards, growing 72 different types of wine grapes.
- Tater tots were invented in Oregon;
- The world’s smallest park is located in Portland, Or. It has a total area of 452 square inches. That’s not a typo.
- Almost half of the state area is forested.
- There are a whole lot of llamas in Oregon. About 1/4 of the total in the USA.
- Oregon has more ghost towns than any other state.
- In 1973, Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana; recreational marijuana is also legal since 2014.
* Cover photo by jose1983 via Depositphotos
Do you want to learn more about the American states?
Click in the state you want to know better!