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State of Oregon

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Unknown; name first applied to the river now known as the Columbia, possibly from the Algonquian for "beautiful water."

NICKNAME: The Beaver State.


ENTERED UNION: 14 February 1859 (33rd).

SONG: "Oregon, My Oregon."

MOTTO: She Flies With Her Own Wings.

FLAG: The flag consists of a navy-blue field with gold lettering and illustrations. Obverse: the shield from the state seal, supported by 33 stars, with the words "State of Oregon" above and the year of admission below. Reverse: a beaver.

OFFICIAL SEAL: A shield, supported by 33 stars and crested by an American eagle, depicts mountains and forests, an elk, a covered wagon and ox team, wheat, a plow, a pickax, and the state motto. In the background, as the sun sets over the Pacific, an American merchant ship arrives as a British man-o'-war departs. The words "State of Oregon 1859" surround the whole.

BIRD: Western meadowlark.

FISH: Chinook salmon.

FLOWER: Oregon grape.

TREE: Douglas fir.

GEM: Sunstone.

LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., 3rd Monday in January; Presidents', Day, 3rd Monday in February; Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Veterans' Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Day, 25 December.

TIME: 5 AM MST = noon GMT; 4 AM PST = noon GMT.


Located on the Pacific coast of the northwestern United States. Oregon ranks 10th in size among the 50 states.

The total area of Oregon is 97,073 sq mi (251,419 sq km), with land comprising 96,184 sq mi (249,117 sq km) and inland water 889 sq mi (2,302 sq km). Oregon extends 395 mi (636 km) e-w; the state's maximum n-s extension is 295 mi (475 km).

Oregon is bordered on the n by Washington (with most of the line formed by the Columbia River); on the e by Idaho (with part of the line defined by the Snake River); on the s by Nevada and California; and on the w by the Pacific Ocean. The total boundary length of Oregon is 1,444 mi (2,324 km), including a general coastline of 296 mi (476 km); the tidal shoreline extends 1,410 mi (2,269 km). The state's geographic center is in Crook County, 25 mi (40 km) sse of Prineville.


The Cascade Range, extending north-south, divides Oregon into distinct eastern and western regions, each of which contains a great variety of landforms.

At the state's western edge, the Coast Range, a relatively low mountain system, rises from the beaches, bays, and rugged headlands of the Pacific coast. Between the Coast and Cascade ranges lie fertile valleys, the largest being the Willamette Valley, Oregon's heartland. The two-thirds of the state lying east of the Cascade Range consists generally of arid plateaus cut by river canyons, with rolling hills in the north-central portion giving way to the Blue Mountains in the northeast. The Great Basin in the southeast is characterized by fault-block ridges, weathered buttes, and remnants of large prehistoric lakes.

The Cascades, Oregon's highest mountains, contain nine snowcapped volcanic peaks more than 9,000 ft (2,700 m) high, of which the highest is Mt. Hood, at 11,239 ft (3,428 m). A dormant volcano, Mt. Hood last erupted in 1865. (Mt. St. Helen's, which erupted in 1980, is only 60 mi/97 km to the northwest, in Washington.) The Blue Mountains include several rugged subranges interspersed with plateaus, alluvial basins, and deep river canyons. The Klamath Mountains in the southwest form a jumble of ridges where the Coast and Cascade ranges join. The mean elevation of the state is approximately 3,300 ft (1,007 m).

Oregon is drained by many rivers, but the Columbia, demarcating most of the northern border with Washington, is by far the biggest and most important. Originating in Canada, it flows more than 1,200 mi (1,900 km) to the Pacific Ocean. With a mean flow rate of 250,134 cu ft per second, the Columbia is the third-largest river in the United States. It drains some 58% of Oregon's surface by way of a series of northward-flowing rivers, including the Deschutes, John Day, and Umatilla. The largest of the Columbia's tributaries in Oregon, and longest river entirely within the state, is the Willamette, which drains a fertile valley more than 100 mi (160 km) long. Better than half of Oregon's eastern boundary with Idaho is formed by the Snake River, which flows through Hell's Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in North America.

Oregon has 19 natural lakes with a surface area of more than 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares), and many smaller ones. The largest is Upper Klamath Lake, which covers 58,922 acres (23,845 hectares) and is quite shallow. The most famous, however, is Crater Lake, which formed in the crater created by the violent eruption of Mt. Mazama several thousand years ago and is now a national park. Its depth of 1,932 ft (589 m)greater than any other lake in the United Statesand its nearly circular expanse of bright-blue water, edged by the crater's rim, make it a natural wonder. Sea level at the Pacific Ocean is the lowest elevation in the state.


Oregon has a generally temperate climate, but there are marked regional variations. The Cascade Range separates the state into two broad climatic zones: the western third, with relatively heavy precipitation and moderate temperatures, and the eastern two-thirds, with relatively little precipitation and more extreme temperatures. Within these general regions, climate depends largely on elevation and land configuration.

In January, normal daily mean temperatures range from more than 45°f (7°c) in the coastal sections to between 25°f (4°c) and 28°f (2°c) in the southeast. In July, the normal daily means range between 65°f (18°c) and 70°f (21°c) in the plateau regions and central valleys and between 70°f (21°c) and 78°f (26°c) along the eastern border. Oregon's record low temperature, 54°f (48°c), was registered at Seneca on 10 February 1933; the all-time high, 119°f (48°c), at Pendleton on 10 August 1898.

The Cascades serve as a barrier to the warm, moist winds blowing in from the Pacific, confining most precipitation to western Oregon. The average annual rainfall in Portland is about 37 in (94 cm); rainfall elsewhere varied from less than 8 in (20 cm) in the drier plateau regions to as much as 200 in (508 cm) at locations on the upper west slopes of the Coast Range. In the Blue Mountains and the Columbia River Basin, totals are about 15 in (38 cm) to 20 in (51 cm). In Portland, fog is common, with about 123 days of fog per year, and the sun shines, on average, during only 48% of the daylight hours. From 300 in (760 cm) to 550 in (1,400 cm) of snow falls each year in the highest reaches of the Cascades.


With its variety of climatic conditions and surface features, Oregon has a diverse assortment of vegetation and wildlife, including 78 native tree species. The coastal region is covered by a rain forest of spruce, hemlock, and cedar rising above dense underbrush. A short distance inland, the stands of Douglas firOregon's state tree and dominant timber resourcebegin, extending across the western slopes to the summit of the Cascade Range. Where the Douglas fir has been destroyed by fire or logging, alder and various types of berries grow. In the high elevations of the Cascades, Douglas fir gives way to pines and true firs. Ponderosa pine predominates on the eastern slopes, while in areas too dry for pine the forests give way to open range, which, in its natural state, is characterized by sagebrush, occasional juniper trees, and sparse grasses. The state's many species of smaller indigenous plants include Oregon grapethe state floweras well as salmonberry, huckleberry, blackberry, and many other berries. Fifteen Oregon plant species were listed as threatened or endangered in 2006, including the Willamette daisy, Western lily, Malheur wire-lettuce, rough popcornflower, and MacFarlane's four-o'clock.

More than 130 species of mammal are native to Oregon, of which 28 are found throughout the state. Many species, such as the cougar and bear, are protected, either entirely or through hunting restrictions. The bighorn sheep, once extirpateddeliberately exterminatedin Oregon, has been reintroduced in limited numbers; the Columbian white-tailed deer, with an extremely limited habitat along the Columbia River, is still classified as endangered. Deer and elk are popular game mammals, with herds managed by the state: mule deer predominate in eastern Oregon, black-tailed deer in the west. Among introduced mammals, the nutria and opossum are now present in large numbers. At least 60 species of fish are found in Oregon, including five different salmon species, of which the Chinook is the largest and the coho most common. Salmon form the basis of Oregon's sport and commercial fishing, although dams and development have blocked many spawning areas, causing a decline in numbers and heavy reliance on hatcheries to continue the runs. Hundreds of species of birds inhabit Oregon, either year-round or during particular seasons. The state lies in the path of the Pacific Flyway, a major route for migratory waterfowl, and large numbers of geese and ducks may be found in western Oregon and marshy areas east of the Cascades. Extensive bird refuges have been established in various parts of the state. Thirty-three Oregon animal species (vertebrates and invertebrates) were classified as threatened or endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in April 2006, including the short-tailed albatross, bald eagle, Fender's blue butterfly, three species of chub, brown pelican, northern spotted owl, and three species of sea turtle.


Oregon has been among the most active states in environmental protection. In 1938, the polluted condition of the Willamette River led to the enactment, by initiative, of one of the nation's first comprehensive water pollution control laws, which helped restore the river's quality for swimming and fishing. An air pollution control law was enacted in 1951, and air and water quality programs were placed under the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), established in 1969. This department is Oregon's major environmental protection agency, enforcing standards for air and water quality and solid and hazardous waste disposal. A vehicle inspection program has been instituted to reduce exhaust emissions in the Portland area and in Rogue Valley. The DEQ also operates an asbestos program to protect the public from asbestos in buildings that are being demolished or remodeled. The DEQ monitors 18 river basins for water quality and issues permits to businesses, industries, and government bodies that discharge waste water into public waters. A Wetland Conservation Strategy has been developed to protect the nearly 1.4 million acres (566,559 hectares) of wetlands in the state.

In 2003, 42.1 million pounds of toxic chemicals were released in the state. In 2003, Oregon had 112 hazardous waste sites listed in the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) database, 11 of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006, including Portland Harbor and the Union Pacific Railroad Tie Treating Plant. In 2005, the EPA spent over $8.7 million through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state. The same year, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included $14.5 million for the drinking water state revolving fund and $12.1 million for the water pollution control/clean water revolving fund.

In 1973, the legislature enacted what has become known as the Oregon Bottle Bill, the first state law prohibiting the sale of non-returnable beer or soft-drink containers. The DEQ estimates that more than 95% of beverage containers are returned for recycling. The success of the Bottle Bill was partly responsible for the passage in 1983 of the Recycling Opportunity Act, which reduces the amount of solid waste generated. Furthermore, all cities with 5,000 or more residents are required to provide curbside recycling services.


Oregon ranked 27th in population in the United States with an estimated total of 3,641,056 in 2005, an increase of 6.4% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Oregon's population grew from 2,842,321 to 3,421,399, an increase of 20.4%, making it one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. The population is projected to reach 4 million by 2015 and 4.5 million by 2025. In 2004 the median age was 37. Persons under 18 years old accounted for 23.7% of the population while 12.8% was age 65 or older.

Like other western states, Oregon experienced more rapid population growth than that of the United States as a whole in the 1970s, when population expanded 26%. The 1990 census figure represented a 7.9% increase over the 1980 census population. The population density in 2004 was 37.5 persons per sq mi.

As of 2000, more than half of all Oregonians lived in the Portland region, while much of the remainder also lived in the Willamette Valley, particularly in and around Salem and Eugene. The city of Portland had an estimated 533,492 residents in 2004; the Portland metropolitan area (which includes Vancouver and Beaverton) had an estimated 2004 population of 2,064,336. The estimated population of Salem was 146,120 and Eugene had a population of about 142,681.


In 2000, the estimated number of American Indians was 45,211, with most of the population living in urban areas. The state's four reservations (with estimated 1995 population) are the Umatilla (2,154), Siletz (1,778), Spokane (1,416), and Kalispel (170). Important salmon fishing rights in the north are reserved under treaty. In 2004, 1.4% of the state's population was American Indian or Alaskan Native.

About 55,662 blacks were estimated to live in Oregon in 2000, up from 46,000 in 1990; most blacks reside in the Portland area. In 2004, 1.8% of the state's population was black. In 2000, Hispanics and Latinos numbered about 275,314, or 8% of the state total population, up from 113,000 in 1990. In 2004, 9.5% of the state's population was of Hispanic or Latino origin. In 2000, Asians numbered 101,350. There were 20,930 Chinese, 12,131 Japanese, 12,387 Koreans, 10,627 Filipinos, 18,890 Vietnamese (up from 8,130 in 1990), 9,575 Asian Indians (more than triple the 1990 population of 2,726), and 4,392 Laotians. Pacific Islanders numbered 7,976. In 2004, 3.4% of the population was Asian, and 0.3% Pacific Islander. In 2004, 2.3% of the total population reported origin of two or more races.

French Canadians have lived in Oregon since the opening of the territory, and they have continued to come in a small but steady migration. As of 2000, 31,354 Oregonians reported French Canadian ancestry. In all, the 2000 census counted some 289,702 Oregonians of foreign birth, accounting for 8.5% of the population (up from 139,307, or 4.9%, in 1990).


Place-names such as Umatilla, Coos Bay, Klamath Falls, and Tillamook reflect the variety of Indian tribes that white settlers found in Oregon territory.

The midland dialect dominates Oregon English, except for an apparent Northern dialect influence in the Willamette Valley. Throughout the state, foreign and orange have the /aw/ vowel, and tomorrow has the /ah/ of father.

In 2000, 2,810,654 Oregonians87.9 of the population five years old or olderspoke only English at home, down from 92.7% in 1990.

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "Other Indo-European languages" includes Albanian, Gaelic, Lithuanian, and Rumanian. The category "Other Slavic languages" includes Czech, Slovak, and Ukrainian. Samoan. The category "Other Asian languages" includes Dravidian languages, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, and Turkish. The category "Scandinavian languages" includes Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish.

Population 5 years and over 3,199,323 100.0
  Speak only English 2,810,654 87.9
  Speak a language other than English 388,669 12.1
Speak a language other than English 388,669 12.1
  Spanish or Spanish Creole 217,614 6.8
  German 18,400 0.6
  Vietnamese 17,805 0.6
  Russian 16,344 0.5
  Chinese 15,504 0.5
  French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 11,837 0.4
  Japanese 9,377 0.3
  Korean 9,185 0.3
  Tagalog 6,181 0.2
  Other Indo-European languages 5,945 0.2
  Other Slavic languages 5,630 0.2
  Other Pacific Island languages 4,331 0.1
  Other Asian languages 4,109 0.1
  Arabic 3,723 0.1
  Scandinavian languages 3,276 0.1
  Italian 3,104 0.1


Just over one-third of Oregon's population is affiliated with an organized religion. About 2.3 million people, 68% of the population, were not counted as members of any religious organization in a 2000 survey. The leading Christian denomination is the Roman Catholic Church, with 425,765 members in 2004. The next largest denomination is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which reported a 2006 membership of 141,482 people in 294 congregations. There are two Mormon temples in the state: Portland (est. in 1989) and Medford (est. 2000). Other major Protestant groups (with 2000 membership data), are the Assemblies of God, 49,357; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 46,807; Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, 39,011; United Methodists, 34,101; Presbyterians (USA), 33,909; and Southern Baptists, 32,433. The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (established in California in 1923) had 44,826 members in Oregon in 2000. The same year, Jewish Oregonians were estimated to number 31,625, a figure which represents a 195% increase from 1990; there were about 5,225 Muslims throughout the state.


With the state's major deepwater port and international airport, Portland is the transportation hub of Oregon. As of 2003, the state had 2,863 rail mi (4,609 km) of track and is served by two major rail systems: the Union Pacific; and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe. Lumber and wood products are the major commodities originating in Oregon. Farm products and chemicals are the major commodities terminating in Oregon, primarily at the Port of Portland. As of 2006, Amtrak provided north-south passenger service to seven stations in the state via its Amtrak Cascade and Coast Starlight trains, and east-west service from Portland to Chicago via its Empire Builder train.

Starting with pioneer trails and toll roads, Oregon's roads and highways had become a network extending 65,861 mi (106,036 km) by 2004. The main interstate highways are I-5, running the length of the state north-south connecting the major cities, and I-84, running northwest from Ontario in eastern Oregon and then along the northern border. In 2004, there were some 3.006 million registered vehicles in the state, including about 1.447 million passenger cars registered in Oregon, and 2,625,856 licensed drivers.

The Columbia River forms the major inland waterway for the Pacific Northwest, with barge navigation possible for 464 mi (747 km) upstream to Lewiston, Idaho, via the Snake River. Wheat from eastern Oregon and Washington is shipped downstream to Portland for reloading onto oceangoing vessels. The Port of Portland owns five major cargo terminals and handled more than 29.995 million tons of cargo in 2004. Oregon also has several important coastal harbors, including Astoria, Newport, and Coos Bay. In 2003, waterborne shipments totaled 31.811 million tons. In 2004, Oregon had 681 mi (1,096 km) of navigable inland waterways.

In 2005, Oregon had a total of 455 public and private-use aviation-related facilities. This included 346 airports, 104 heliports, two STOLports (Short Take-Off and Landing), and three seaplane bases. The state's largest and busiest airport is Portland International, with 6,379,884 passengers enplaned in 2004, making it the 33rd-busiest airport in the United States.


The land now known as Oregon has been inhabited for at least 10,000 years, the age assigned to woven brush sandals found in caves along what was once the shore of a large inland lake. Later, a variety of Indian cultures evolved. Along the coast and lower Columbia River lived peoples of the Northern Coast Culture, who ate salmon and other marine life, built large dugout canoes and cedar plank houses, and possessed a complex social structure, including slavery, that emphasized status and wealth. East of the Cascade Range were hunter-gatherers who migrated from place to place as the food supply dictated.

The first European to see Oregon was probably Sir Francis Drake. In 1578, while on a raiding expedition against the Spanish, Drake reported sighting what is believed to be the Oregon coast before being forced to return southward by "vile, thicke and stinking fogges." For most of the next 200 years, European contact was limited to occasional sightings by mariners, who considered the coast too dangerous for landing. In 1778, however, British Captain James Cook, on his third voyage of discovery, visited the Northwest and named several Oregon capes. Soon afterward, American ships arrived in search of sea otter and other furs. A Yankee merchant captain, Robert Gray, discovered the Columbia River (which he named for his ship) in 1792, contributing to the US claim to the Northwest.

The first overland trek to Oregon was the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which traveled from St. Louis to the mouth of the Columbia, where it spent the winter of 180506. In 1811, a party of fur traders employed by New York merchant John Jacob Astor arrived by ship at the mouth of the Columbia and built a trading post named Astoria. The venture was not a success and was sold three years later to British interests, but some of the Astor party stayed, becoming Oregon's first permanent white residents. For the next 20 years, European and US interest in Oregon focused on the quest for beaver pelts. Agents of the British North West Company (which merged in 1821 with the Hudson's Bay Company) and some rival American parties explored the region, mapped trails, and established trading posts. Although Britain and the United States had agreed to a treaty of joint occupation in 1818, the de facto governor from 1824 to the early 1840s was Dr. John McLoughlin, the Hudson's Bay Company chief factor at Ft. Vancouver in Washington.

Another major influence on the region was Protestant missionary activity, which began with the arrival of Jason Lee, a Methodist missionary, in 1834. Lee started his mission in the Willamette Valley, near present-day Salem. After a lecture tour of the East, he returned to Oregon in 1840 with 50 settlers and assistants. While Lee's mission was of little help to the local Indians, most of whom had been killed off by white men's diseases, it served as a base for subsequent American settlement and as a counterbalance to the Hudson's Bay Company.

The first major wagon trains arrived by way of the Oregon Trail in the early 1840s. On 2 May 1843, as a "great migration" of 875 men, women, and children was crossing the plains, about 100 settlers met at the Willamette Valley community of Champoeg and voted to form a provisional government. That government remained in power until 1849, when Oregon became a territory, three years after the Oregon Treaty between Great Britain and the United States established the present US-Canadian boundary. As originally constituted, Oregon Territory included present-day Washington and much of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. A constitution prepared by an elected convention was approved in November 1857, and after a delay caused by North-South rivalries, on 14 February 1859, Congress voted to make Oregon, reduced to its present borders, the 33rd state.

Oregon remained relatively isolated until the completion of the first transcontinental railroad link in 1883. State politics, which had followed a pattern of venality and influence buying, underwent an upheaval in the early 1900s. Reformers led by William S. U'Ren instituted what became known as the "Oregon System" of initiative, referendum, and recall, by which voters could legislate directly and removed corrupt elected officials.

Oregon's population grew steadily in the 20th century as migration into the state continued. (By 2004, its population was almost 3.6 million.) Improved transportation helped make the state the nation's leading lumber producer and a major exporter of agricultural products. Development was also aided by hydroelectric projects, many undertaken by the federal government. The principal economic changes after World War II were the growth of the aluminum industry, a rapid expansion of the tourist trade, and the creation of a growing electronics industry. The dominant industries in the Oregon economy, however, remained those centered on its abundant natural resourcesagriculture, timber, and coal. These industries suffered in the late 1970s and 1980s when interest rates skyrocketed, reducing demand for houses and therefore for wood. Employment in the lumber and wood industry dropped from 81,000 jobs in 1979 to 64,000 in 1985. High interest rates, by boosting the value of the dollar, also lowered foreign demand for lumber and produce.

It was hoped that the construction of high-technology plants in the mid-1980s would help immunize Oregon from the fluctuating fortunes of the extractive (mining and timber) and agricultural industries. However, a slump in the computer industry delayed the building of planned facilities in the state. By the early 1990s, Oregon did boast a burgeoning electronics industry, but the greatest job growth had occurred in the service sector. Agricultural industries also helped boost the state's economy. By 1994, unemployment stood at a 25-year low of 5%. Nevertheless, by 1999 it had increased to 5.7%, well above the national average (it was the third-highest jobless rate in the nation). Other statistics pointed out problems in Oregon. Poverty was on the rise during the decadeclimbing from 9.2% in 1990 to 15% in 1998. The dramatic increase came as levels in most other states were on the decline, so that Oregon began the decade as the 43rd-poorest (one of the best-off states) in the nation and was set to close the decade as the 10th-poorest state. Children were a large part of these statistics: Oregon's child poverty rate shot up 25% between 1993 and 1998 alone, so that in 1998 one in five children in the state was living in poverty.

By 1990, the struggle between environmentalists and the timber industry over logging in Oregon's forests had become a major public policy debate. Federal legislation passed in 1993 set limits on commercial exploitation of older forests that were home to the spotted owl. With the shift in focus from timber production to protecting habitat, timber harvests in national forests declined 70% during the 1990s. The decline of logging resulted in severe economic downturns in rural areas and a loss of school funding, which the National Education Association called a "crisis for many forest county education systems" in western states, including Oregon. To assist communities affected by the downturn, Congress considered disparate proposalsfrom requiring the US Forest Service to generate more income (a portion of which, by a 1908 law, funds schools) from logging on public lands to issuing US Treasury payments to afflicted counties as they transition from logging-based economies. Conservationists were being backed by analysts who forecasted the state's greatest job growth would come from the environmentally friendly high-tech sector and the environmentally dependent tourism industry.

In 2003, Oregon faced a $2.5 billion budget deficit. Upon being elected in 2002, Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski supported a temporary income tax increase, which voters rejected in a January 2003 referendum. The state then had to face cuts of over $300 million in education, health care, and other programs in order to balance the $11.6 billion budget for 200305. By 2005, Kulongoski had made inroads in creating jobs and expanding business opportunities in both rural and urban areas, while protecting the environment. He also promoted investment in post-secondary education, so that more Oregonians would be able to attend college, with the intent that graduates would remain in the state and put their skills back into the economy.

Despite Oregon's fiscal woes, its poverty rate improved slightly in the early 2000s: the 200304 two-year average poverty rate in the state was 12.1%, compared with a national average of 12.6%. However, the state unemployment rate in 2004 was 7.4%, well above the national average of 5.5%. Per capita personal income in Oregon for 2004 was $29,971, below the national average of $32,937.


The Oregon constitutiondrafted and approved in 1857, effective in 1859, and amended 238 times by January 2005governs the state today. The first decade of the 20th century saw the passage of numerous progressive amendments, including provisions for the direct election of senators, the rights of initiative, referendum, recall, and a direct primary system.

The constitution establishes a 60-member House of Representatives, elected for two years, and a Senate of 30 members, serving four-year terms. Legislative sessions, which are not formally limited in length, begin in January of odd-numbered years. Special sessions may be called by the majority petition of each house. Legislators must be US citizens, at least 21 years old, and must have lived in their districts for at least one year. In 2004 the legislative salary was $15,396 for the biennial session.

State elected officials are the governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, and a commissioner of labor and industries, all elected for four-year terms. The governor, who may serve no more than eight years in any 12-year period, must be a US citizen, a qualified voter, must be at least 30 years old, and must have been a resident of the state for three years before assuming office. As of December 2004, the governor's salary was $93,600. Much policy in Oregon is set by boards and commissions whose members are appointed by the governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

Bills become law when approved by a majority of the House and Senate and either signed by the governor or left unsigned for five days when the legislature is in session or for 30 days after it has adjourned. Measures presented to the voters by the legislature or by petition become law when approved by a majority of the electorate. The governor may veto a legislative bill, but the legislature may override a veto by a two-thirds vote of those present in each house. Proposed constitutional amendments require voter approval to take effect, and they may be placed on the ballot either by the legislature or by initiative petition (8% of total votes for all candidates for governor at last election).

To vote in Oregon a person must be a US citizen, age 18 or older, and a state resident. Restrictions apply to convicted felons.


Oregon has two major political parties, Democratic and Republican. Partly because of the role the direct primary system plays in choosing nominees, party organization is relatively weak. There is a strong tradition of political independence, evidenced in 1976 when Oregon gave independent presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy 3.9% of the votehis highest percentage in any statea total that probably cost Jimmy Carter Oregon's then six electoral votes. Another independent, John Anderson, won 112,389 votes (9.5%) in the 1980 presidential election.

Democrat Barbara Roberts was elected governor in 1990. She did not run for reelection in 1994, and John Kitzhaber, a Democrat and physician who designed Oregon's health care rationing system, defeated Republican congressman Denny Smith to become governor. Kitzhaber won a second term in 1998. In 2002, Democrat Ted Kulongoski won the governorship.

Oregonians elected two US senators in 1996. In a special election in January, Democrat Ron Wyden was chosen to serve the remainder of Robert Packwood's term after Packwood resigned from the Senate due to allegations of sexual misconduct; Wyden was elected to his first full term in 1998 and was reelected in 2004. In the November 1996 election, Republican Gordon Smith won the seat vacated by five-term senator Mark Hatfield; he was reelected in 2002. Following 2004 elections, all but one of the state's five US representatives were Democrats.

In mid-2005 there were 18 Democrats and 12 Republicans in the state Senate and 33 Republicans and 27 Democrats in the state House. In 2000, Oregon voters gave Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore a very slight victory over Republican George W. Bush. (Gore won by a margin of 6,765 votes out of over 1.5 million cast statewide.) In 2004, Democratic challenger John Kerry won 51.5% of the vote to incumbent President Bush's 47.6%. In 2004 there were 2,120,000 registered voters. In 1998, 40% of registered voters were Democratic, 36% Republican, and 24% unaffiliated or members of other parties. The state had seven electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election.


As of 2005, Oregon had 36 counties, 240 municipal governments, 197 public school districts, and 927 special districts. Towns and cities enjoy home rule, the right to choose their own form of government and enact legislation on matters of local concern. In 1958, home rule was extended to counties. Most of Oregon's larger cities have council-manager forms of government while smaller communities are governed by a city council and mayor. At the county level, typical elected officials are commissioners, judge, assessor, district attorney, sheriff, and treasurer.

Oregon Presidential Vote by Political Parties, 19482004
*Won US presidential election.
1948 6 Dewey (R) 243,147 260,904 14,978 5,051
1952 6 *Eisenhower (R) 270,579 420,815 3,665
1956 6 Eisenhower (R) 329,204 406,393
1960 6 Nixon (R) 367,402 408,065
1964 6 *Johnson (D) 501,017 282,779
1968 6 *Nixon (R) 358,866 408,433 49,683
1972 6 *Nixon (R) 392,760 486,686 46,211
1976 6 Ford (R) 490,407 492,120
1980 6 *Reagan (R) 456,890 571,044 13,642 25,838
1984 7 *Reagan (R) 536,479 685,700
1988 7 Dukakis (D) 678,367 483,423 2,985 6,261
IND. (Perot)
1992 7 *Clinton (D) 621,314 475,757 3,030 354,091 4,277
1996 7 *Clinton (D) 649,641 538,152 49,415 121,221 8,903
IND. (Buchanan)
2000 7 Gore (D) 720,342 713,577 77,357 7,063 7,447
2004 7 Kerry (D) 943,163 866,831 5,315 5,257 7,260

The state constitution gives voters strong control over local government revenue by requiring voter approval of property tax levies.

In 2005, local government accounted for about 124,458 full-time (or equivalent) employment positions.


To address the continuing threat of terrorism and to work with the federal Department of Homeland Security, homeland security in Oregon operates under executive order; the homeland security director is designated as the state homeland security advisor.

Special offices within the governor's office include the Economic Revitalization Team, the state Affirmative Action Office, and the Advocate for Minority, Women, and Emerging Small Business. The Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman is now a separate agency. The Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commission investigates conflicts of interest involving public officials and to levy civil penalties for infractions. Responsibility for educational matters is divided among the Board of Education, which oversees primary and secondary schools and community colleges; the Board of Higher Education, which controls the state college and university system; and the Childhood Care and Education Coordinating Council. The economy is guided by the departments of agriculture, consumer and business services, revenue, and economic and community development.

State highways, airfields, and public transit systems are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation, which is headed by an appointed commission. The largest state agency is the Department of Human Services, encompassing children's services, adult and family services, health, mental health, seniors, and people with disabilities. State agencies involved in environmental matters include the Department of Environmental Qual-ity, the Department of Land Conservation and Development, and the departments of Energy, Forestry, Fish and Wildlife, and Water Resources. State-owned lands are administered through the Land Board.


Oregon's highest court is the Supreme Court, consisting of seven justices who elect one of their number to serve as chief justice. It accepts cases on review from the 10-judge Court of Appeals, which has exclusive jurisdiction over all criminal and civil appeals from lower courts and over certain actions of state agencies. Circuit courts and tax courts are the trial courts of original jurisdiction for civil and criminal matters. The 30 more-populous counties also have district courts, which hear minor civil, criminal, and traffic matters. In 1998, the circuit courts and district courts were merged. The circuit courts are thus the only state-level trial courts. Thirty localities retain justices of the peace, also with jurisdiction over minor cases. State judges and local justices of the peace are elected by nonpartisan ballot for six-year terms.

Oregon's penal system is operated by the Oregon Department of Corrections. As of 31 December 2004, a total of 13,183 prisoners were held in Oregon's state and federal prisons, an increase from 12,715 of 3.7% from the previous year. As of year-end 2004, a total of 985 inmates were female, up from 883 or 11.6% from the year before. Among sentenced prisoners (one year or more), Oregon had an incarceration rate of 365 per 100,000 population in 2004.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Oregon in 2004, had a violent crime rate (murder/nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault) of 298.3 reported incidents per 100,000 population, or a total of 10,724 reported incidents. Crimes against property (burglary; larceny/theft; and motor vehicle theft) in that same year totaled 166,475 reported incidents or 4,631.3 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Oregon has a death penalty, of which lethal injection is the sole method of execution. From 1976 through 5 May 2006, the state has carried out only two executions, one in September 1996 and the other in May 1997. As of 1 January 2006, Oregon had 33 inmates on death row.

In 2003, Oregon spent $144,873,368 on homeland security, an average of $40 per state resident.


In 2004, there were 667 active duty military personnel and 3,276 civilian personnel stationed in Oregon. The US Coast Guard does maintain search-and-rescue facilities, and the Army Corps of Engineers operates a number of hydroelectric projects in the state. Military contract awards in 2004 totaled nearly $530 million, and defense payroll outlays were $804 million.

In 2003, 366,780 military veterans were living in Oregon, of whom 51,587 served in World War II; 37,648 during the Korean conflict; 121,365 during the Vietnam era; and 49,235 during in the Persian Gulf War. Federal veterans' benefits in Oregon totaled more than $1.0 billion in 2004.

As of 31 October 2004, the Oregon State Police employed 610 full-time sworn officers.


The Oregon Trail was the route along which thousands of settlers traveled to Oregon by covered wagon in the 1840s and 1850s. This early immigration was predominantly from Midwestern states. After the completion of the transcontinental railroad, northeastern states supplied an increasing proportion of the newcomers.

Foreign immigration began in the 1860s with the importation of Chinese contract laborers, and reached its peak about 1900. Germans and Scandinavians (particularly after 1900) were the most numerous foreign immigrants; Japanese, who began arriving in the 1890s, met a hostile reception in some areas. Canadians have also come to Oregon in significant numbers. Nevertheless, immigration from other states has predominated. Between 1970 and 1980, the state's net gain from migration was about 341,000; from 1980 to 1983, however, the state suffered a net loss of about 37,000, and from 1985 to 1990, the net migration gain was 123,500. Between 1990 and 1998, Oregon had net gains of 260,000 in domestic migration and 58,000 in international migration. In 1998, 5,909 foreign immigrants arrived in Oregon; of these, the greatest number, 1,879, came from Mexico. The state's overall population increased 15.5% between 1990 and 1998, making it one of the fastest growing states in the nation. In the period 200005, net international migration was 72,263 and net internal migration was 77,821 for a net gain of 150,084 people.


Oregon participates in such regional accords as the Columbia River Compact (between Oregon and Washington on fishing), Columbia River Gorge Compact, Columbia River Boundary Compact, Klamath River Compact (with California), Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Pacific Ocean Resources Compact, Northwest Power and Conservation Council (with Idaho, Montana, and Washington), and several western groups concerned with corrections, education, and energy matters.

While Oregon receives federal assistance for a variety of programs, federal involvement is particularly heavy in the areas of energy and natural resources, through federal development, operation, and marketing of hydroelectric power and federal ownership of forest and grazing lands. Approximately 49% of Oregon's land area is owned by the federal government. Federal grants to Oregon totaled more than $4.3 billion in fiscal year 2001. Following a national trend, that figure decreased significantly to $3.682 billion in fiscal year 2005, an estimated $3.745 billion in fiscal year 2006, and an estimated $3.767 billion in fiscal year 2007.


Since early settlement, Oregon's natural resources have formed the basis of its economy. Vast forests have made lumber and wood products the leading industry in the state. Since World War II, however, the state has striven to diversify its job base. The aluminum industry has been attracted to Oregon, along with computer and electronics firms, which now constitute the fastest-growing manufacturing sector. Development, principally in the "Silicon Forest" west of Portland, was expected to bring as many as 3,000 jobs a year during the mid- and late 1980s. Meanwhile, the trend in employment has been toward white-collar and service jobs, with agriculture and manufacturing holding a declining share of the civilian labor force. Tourism and research-related businesses growing out of partnerships between government and higher education are on the rise.

A large portion of manufacturing jobs outside the Portland area are in the lumber and wood products field, making them dependent on the health of the US construction industry. Jobs are plentiful when US housing starts rise, but unemployment increases when nationwide construction drops off. The cyclical changes in demand for forest products are a chronic problem, with rural areas and small towns particularly hard hit by the periodic closing of local lumber and plywood mills. State efforts at diversification in the 1990s were very effective, however, resulting in an astounding 79.8% growth in output from the electronics field of manufactures 1997 to 2000, the main component in an overall increase in output from manufactures of 43% across this period. Oregon was almost unique among the states in that growth in manufacturing, instead of services, led overall growth coming into the 21st century, with the state economy's annual growth rate accelerating from 5.6% in 1998, to 7.2% in 1999 to 10% in 2000. Oregon's economy was clearly headed for a correction, which came abruptly in the national recession of 2001, in which manufacturing output fell 7.7% and the state economy contracted overall 1.1% (one of the few states to register negative growth for the year). As a result, the personal bankruptcy rate soared, and foreclosures were running at rates not seen since the mid-1980s. By the end of 2002, employment in the electronic products and industrial machinery manufacturing sectors (which produce semiconductors and computers) had fallen 3%, and Oregon was posting the second highest unemployment rate in the country (7%).

In 2004, Oregon's gross state product (GSP) was $128.103 billion, of which manufacturing (durable and nondurable goods) contributed the largest share at $19.581 billion or 15.2% of GSP, followed by the real estate sector at $17.937 billion (14% of GSP) and healthcare and social assistance services at $9.770 billion (7.6% of GSP). In that same year, there were an estimated 320,019 small businesses in Oregon. Of the 104,114 businesses that had employees, an estimated total of 101,693 or 97.7% were small companies. An estimated 13,481 new businesses were established in the state in 2004, down 2.6% from the year before. Business terminations that same year came to 14,407, up 1.5% from 2003. There were 852 business bankruptcies in 2004, down 46.4% from the previous year. In 2005, the state's personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) filing rate was 675 filings per 100,000 people, ranking Oregon as the 13th highest in the nation.


In 2005 Oregon had a gross state product (GSP) of $145 billion which accounted for 1.2% of the nation's gross domestic product and placed the state at number 26 in highest GSP among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2004 Oregon had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $30,561. This ranked 30th in the United States and was 92% of the national average of $33,050. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of PCPI was 3.8%. Oregon had a total personal income (TPI) of $109,756,586,000, which ranked 28th in the United States and reflected an increase of 5.6% from 2003. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of TPI was 5.3%. Earnings of persons employed in Oregon increased from $80,090,192,000 in 2003 to $85,554,132,000 in 2004, an increase of 6.8%. The 200304 national change was 6.3%.

The US Census Bureau reports that the three-year average median household income for 200204 in 2004 dollars was $42,617 compared to a national average of $44,473. During the same period an estimated 11.7% of the population was below the poverty line as compared to 12.4% nationwide.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in April 2006 the seasonally adjusted civilian labor force in Oregon numbered 1,877,400, with approximately 103,700 workers unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 5.5%, compared to the national average of 4.7% for the same period. Preliminary data for the same period placed nonfarm employment at 1,704,100. Since the beginning of the BLS data series in 1976, the highest unemployment rate recorded in Oregon was 12.1% in November 1982. The historical low was 4.7% in April 1995. Preliminary nonfarm employment data by occupation for April 2006 showed that approximately 5.8% of the labor force was employed in construction; 12.4% in manufacturing; 19.6% in trade, transportation, and public utilities; 6.2% in financial activities; 11.2% in professional and business services; 12.1% in education and health services; 9.6% in leisure and hospitality services; and 16.7% in government.

The US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2005, a total of 213,000 of Oregon's 1,470,000 employed wage and salary workers were formal members of a union. This represented 14.5% of those so employed, down from 15.2% in 2004, but still above the national average of 12%. Overall in 2005, a total of 231,000 workers (15.7%) in Oregon were covered by a union or employee association contract, which includes those workers who reported no union affiliation. Oregon is one of 28 states that do not have a right-to-work law.

As of 1 March 2006, Oregon had a state-mandated minimum wage rate of $7.50 per hour. As of 1 January 2004, Oregon is required to annually adjust its minimum wage rate for inflation. In 2004, women in the state accounted for 45.6% of the employed civilian labor force.


Oregon ranked 27th in the United States in agricultural output in 2005, with cash receipts of $3.7 billion. Crops accounted for 72% of the total. While wheat has been Oregon's leading crop since the state was first settled, in recent years nursery and greenhouse products, valued at more than $951 million in 2004, have taken over the number-one spot, followed by hay and ryegrass production which bring in $262 million and $204 million respectively. Additionally, more than 170 farm and ranch commodities are commercially produced in the state. Oregon leads the nation in the production of hazelnuts, peppermint oil, blackberries, black raspberries, boysenberries, loganberries, several grass and seed crops, and Christmas trees.

Farmland covers about 17.2 million acres (7 million hectares), or 28% of Oregon's total area. Oregon's average farm is 427 acres (173 hectares), around the same size as the national average. In 2004, the state had some 40,000 farms. Quantity and value of selected crops in 2004 were as follows: hay, 3.6 million tons (val-ued at $381 million); wheat, 55.9 million bushels (valued at $201.7 million); potatoes, 19,775,000 hundred weight; pears, 208,000 tons (valued at $72.8 million).

Oregon produces about 98% of the nation's supply of ryegrass seed, with sales of nearly $198 million in 2005. In recent years, the growth of Oregon's wine industry has become noteworthy.


Most beef cattle are raised on the rangeland of eastern Oregon, while dairy operations are concentrated in the western portion of the state. Sheep and poultry are also raised largely in the west.

After greenhouse/nursery products, cattle and calf production is Oregon's leading agricultural activity in terms of value, although income varies greatly with market conditions. Ranchers lease large tracts of federally owned grazing land under a permit system.

In 2005, Oregon ranches and farms had around 1.4 million cattle and calves, worth an estimated $1.37 billion. During 2003, the state produced nearly 10.1 million lb (4.6 million kg) of sheep and lambs, which brought in $11.7 million in gross income; in 2004 shorn wool production was an estimated 1.1 million lb (0.5 million kg) of wool. The 2003 milk output was estimated at 2.2 billion lb (1 billion kg). Oregon's poultry farmers produced nearly 2.8 million lb (1.3 million kg) of chickens in 2003, and 783 million eggs.


Oregon's fish resources have long been of great importance to its inhabitants. For centuries, salmon provided much of the food for Indians, who gathered at traditional fishing grounds when the salmon were returning upstream from the ocean to spawn.

In 2004, Oregon ranked seventh among the states in the total amount of its commercial catch, at over 294.7 million lb (134 million kg) valued at $101 million. The port at Astoria ranked ninth in the nation in catch volume with 135.8 million lb (61.7 million kg). Newport ranked 11th the same year with 111.2 million lb (50.5 million kg). The catch included salmon, especially chinook and silver; groundfish such as flounder, rockfish, and lingcod; shellfish such as shrimp and oysters; and albacore tuna. Salmon landings in 2004 totaled 5.9 million lb (2.7 million kg), the third largest salmon catch in the nation, and were valued at $13 million. Oregon led the nation in dungeness crab landings, with 27.3 million lb (12.4 million kg), which accounted for 38% of the total for the nation.

In 2003, there were 26 processing plants in the state with about 1,012 employees. In 2002, the commercial fishing fleet consisted of 998 boats and vessels.

Sport fishing, primarily for salmon and trout, is a major recreational attraction. In 2004, the state issued 666,454 sport fishing licenses. Hatchery production of salmon and steelhead has taken on increased importance, as development has destroyed natural fishspawning areas. There are 34 public fish hatcheries in the state, including two national fish hatcheries (Eagle Creek and Warm Springs).


About 48% (29.7 million acres/12 million hectares) of Oregon is forested. Oregon's forests are divided into two major geographic regions. Douglas-fir is a primary conifer species in western Oregon, with western hemlock and sitka spruce found along the coast. In eastern Oregon, ponderosa pine is the main species. Several species of true fir, larch, and lodgepole pine also grow east of the Cascades. Noncommercial forests are found along the crest of the Cascade Range and in the high-desert country of eastern Oregon. These species include alpine fir, mountain hemlock and western juniper.

Over 60% of Oregon's forests are publicly owned. National Forest Service lands cover 17.5 million acres (7.1 million hectares). Most of these are federal lands. Federal timber harvest levels have steadily declined over the last several years as timber sales have been appealed and forest set-asides for habitat protection have increased. Reduced revenues have affected local services and in-frastructurewhere a percentage of harvest tax dollars are reinvestedand the overall structure and funding of federal agencies. The Oregon Department of Forestry manages about 786,000 acres (318,000 hectares) of forestland. About 654,000 acres (265,000 hectares) are managed by the department for the counties, and a further 132,000 acres (53,000 hectares) are Common School Fund forestlands, managed for the State Land Board. State forestlands are not managed with the same "multiple-use" strategy as lands managed by the US Forest Service. According to statute, state lands are managed to produce sustainable revenue for counties, schools, and local taxing districts. About 80% of the state's forestland, or 23.8 million acres (9.6 million hectares), is land capable of producing timber for commercial harvest. However, less than 60% of this commercial land is available for full-yield timber production. The remaining forestland base contains commercial forest, but at reduced levels, and provides vital environmental and recreational functions.

Forestland available for commercial timber management has decreased since the 1970s. Estimates show that Oregon's commercial land base has decreased by more than 24% since 1945. Private forestland has been lost due to urban expansion and other non-timber uses. Private forestlands, however, have assumed a much more important role as Oregon's timber supplier due to harvest limitations placed on federal forestland. Timber harvest levels on non-industrial forestlandsparcels typically smaller than 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) and owned by individuals, not corporationshave more than doubled since 1981, and harvest levels on industry-owned forestlands have also increased during the same period. The relative percentage of overall harvest, however, emphasizes the importance of Oregon's private forestlands.

In 2004, Oregon led the nation in total lumber production, with 7.08 billion board feet, and contributed 14.3% to the national total. Nearly all of the timber harvested from private forestlands is second-growthtrees originating from 1920 to 1940. Private forestlands are being reforested and play a major role in sustaining Oregon's long-term timber supply. Oregon law has required reforestation following timber harvesting since 1941. Oregon was the first state to pass a Forest Practices Act, in 1971. About 100 million seedlings are planted in Oregon each year.


According to preliminary data from the US Geological Survey (USGS), the estimated value of nonfuel mineral production by Oregon in 2003 was $311 million, a decrease from 2002 of about 3%. The USGS data ranked Oregon as 35th among the 50 states by the total value of its nonfuel mineral production, accounting for about 1% of total US output.

According to the preliminary data for 2003, construction sand and gravel and crushed stone were the state's top nonfuel minerals by value. They were followed in descending order of value by portland cement, diatomite, and lime. Collectively, these five commodities accounted for approximately 96% of all nonfuel mineral production, by value. Oregon in 2003 was the nation's only producer of emery; it ranked second in the output of perlite and pumice, third in diatomite and (by value) gemstones, and fifth in talc.

Preliminary figures for 2003 showed Oregon produced 19 million metric tons of construction sand and gravel, valued at $113 million, and 18.8 million metric tons of crushed stone, worth $96.8 million.

In 2003, Oregon was also a producer of zeolites and common clays. Zeolites are used as an ammonia absorbent in aquarium systems, as animal feed supplements, anticaking agents, fungicide carriers, in odor control, and in wastewater treatment.


As of 2003, Oregon had 41 electrical power service providers, of which 18 were publicly owned and 19 were cooperatives. Of the remainder, three were investor owned, and one was federally operated. As of that same year there were 1,739,659 retail customers. Of that total, 1,282,670 received their power from investor-owned service providers. Cooperatives accounted for 183,752 customers, while publicly owned providers had 273,235 customers. There were two federal customers.

Total net summer generating capability by the state's electrical generating plants in 2003 stood at 12.882 million kW, with total production that same year at 48.966 billion kWh. Of the total amount generated, 78.8% came from electric utilities, with the remainder coming from independent producers and combined heat and power service providers. The largest portion of all electric power generated, 33.250 billion kWh (67.9%), came from hydroelectric plants, with natural gas fired plants in second place at 10.243 billion kWh (20.9%) and coal-fired plants in third at 4.304 billion kWh (8.8%). Other renewable power sources accounted for 2.3% of all power generated, with petroleum fired plants at 0.1.

Oregon ranks high in the development of hydroelectric power, which supplies more than half of the state's energy needs. Multipurpose federal projects, including four dams on the Columbia River and eight in the Willamette Basin, and projects owned by private or public utilities give Oregon a hydroelectric capacity of over 8,100,000 kW. In recent decades, low-cost power from dams has proved inadequate to meet the state's energy needs, with coal and natural gas fired steam plants being built to supply additional electric power. As of 2003, however, there were no nuclear power plants in operation.

Oregon has no proven reserves or production of crude oil. Although the state has one refinery, it is used to produce asphalt.

In 2004, Oregon had 15 producing natural gas and gas condensate wells. In that same year, marketed gas production (all gas produced excluding gas used for repressuring, vented and flared, and nonhydrocarbon gases removed) totaled 467 million cu ft (13.26 million cu m). There is no data available on the state's proven reserves of natural gas.


According to the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) for 2004, Oregon's manufacturing sector covered some 17 product subsectors. The shipment value of all products manufactured in the state that same year was $54.836 billion. Of that total, computer and electronic product manufacturing accounted for the largest share at $17.849 billion. It was followed by wood product manufacturing at $8.782 billion; food manufacturing at $5.876 billion; transportation equipment manufacturing at $3.211 billion; and paper manufacturing at $2.849 billion.

In 2004, a total of 174,214 people in Oregon were employed in the state's manufacturing sector, according to the ASM. Of that total, 124,218 were actual production workers. In terms of total employment, the wood product manufacturing industry accounted for the largest portion of all manufacturing employees at 31,497 with 26,622 actual production workers. It was followed by computer and electronic product manufacturing at 25,481 employees (12,966 actual production workers); food manufacturing at 18,625 employees (14,659 actual production workers); fabricated metal product manufacturing at 15,335 employees (10,930 actual production workers); and transportation equipment manufacturing with 14,784 employees (11,931 actual production workers).

ASM data for 2004 showed that Oregon's manufacturing sector paid $7.276 billion in wages. Of that amount, the computer and electronic product manufacturing sector accounted for the largest share at $1.459 billion. It was followed by wood product manufacturing at $1.148 billion; food manufacturing at $628.849 million; fabricated metal product manufacturing at $599.949 million; and transportation equipment manufacturing at $564.379 million.

More than half of Oregon's industrial workers are employed in the Portland area. The Willamette Valley is the site of one of the nation's largest canning and freezing industries.


According to the 2002 Census of Wholesale Trade, Oregon's wholesale trade sector had sales that year totaling $56.8 billion from 5,770 establishments. Wholesalers of durable goods accounted for 3,620 establishments, followed by nondurable goods wholesalers at 1,707 and electronic markets, agents, and brokers accounting for 443 establishments. Sales by durable goods wholesalers in 2002 totaled $27.7 billion, while wholesalers of nondurable goods saw sales of $22.7 billion. Electronic markets, agents, and brokers in the wholesale trade industry had sales of $6.4 billion.

In the 2002 Census of Retail Trade, Oregon was listed as having 14,277 retail establishments with sales of $37.8 billion. The leading types of retail businesses by number of establishments were: miscellaneous store retailers (1,964); food and beverage stores (1,938); motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers (1,805); and clothing and clothing accessories stores (1,514). In terms of sales, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers accounted for the largest share of retail sales at $10 billion, followed by general merchandise stores at $7.02 billion; food and beverage stores at $6.07 billion; and gasoline stations at $2.4 billion. A total of 183,706 people were employed by the retail sector in Oregon that year.

Exports moving through Oregon were valued at $12.3 billion in 2005. Exports went primarily to Canada, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines.


The Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) is Oregon's largest regulatory and consumer protection agency. It is a part of the state's Department of Justice, along with the Office of the Attorney General, the latter of which litigates consumer protection issues. The DCBS administers laws and rules regarding workmen's compensation, occupational safety and health, building codes, financial institutions and insurance companies, and securities offerings. The Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section of the state's Department of Justice coordinates consumer services carried on by other government agencies, conducts studies and research in consumer services, and advises executive and legislative branches in matters affecting consumer interests. In addition, it is responsible for the enforcement of Oregon's Unlawful Trade Practices Act. Also responsible for consumer protection are the Department of Agriculture (measurement standards division); and the state's public utilities commission.

When dealing with consumer protection issues, the state's Attorney General's Office can initiate civil and to a limited extent, criminal proceedings; represent the state before state and federal regulatory agencies; administer consumer protection and education programs; handle formal consumer complaints; and exercise broad subpoena powers. In antitrust actions, the Attorney General's Office can act on behalf of those consumers who are incapable of acting on their own; initiate damage actions on behalf of the state in state courts; and initiate criminal proceedings. However, the Attorney General's Office cannot represent counties, cities and other governmental entities in recovering civil damages under state or federal law.

The offices of the Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section are located in Salem.


Consolidations and acquisitions transformed Oregon's banking system from one characterized by a large number of local banks into one dominated by two large chainsthe US National Bank of Oregon and Wells Fargo.

As of June 2005, Oregon had 39 insured banks, savings and loans, and saving banks, plus 23 state-chartered and 70 federally chartered credit unions (CUs). Excluding the CUs, the Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton market area accounted for the largest portion of the state's financial institutions and deposits in 2004, with 40 institutions and $25.150 billion in deposits. As of June 2005, CUs accounted for 34.4% of all assets held by all financial institutions in the state, or some $11.810 billion. Banks, savings and loans, and savings banks collectively accounted for the remaining 65.6% or $22.560 billion in assets held.

The median percentage of past-due/nonaccrual loans to total loans as of fourth quarter 2005 stood at 0.32%, down from 0.44% in 2004 and 0.84 in 2003, reflecting solid economic growth in the state. The median net interest margin (the difference between the lower rates offered to savers and the higher rates charged on loans) has increased as the Federal Reserve has continued a policy of interest rate hikes. As of fourth quarter 2005, the NIM rate stood at 5.45%, up from 4.95% in 2004 and 5.04% in 2003.

Regulation of Oregon's state charted banks and other state-chartered financial institutions is the responsibility of the Oregon Division of Finance and Corporate Securities.


In 2004, there were over 1.18 million individual life insurance policies in force, with a total value of over $128 billion; total value for all categories of life insurance (individual, group, and credit) was over $195 billion. The average coverage amount is $108,800 per policy holder. Death benefits paid that year totaled $512.9 million.

As of the end of 2003, there were 14 property and casualty and 3 life and health insurance companies domiciled in the state. In 2003, direct premiums for property and casualty insurance totaled over $5 billion. That year, there were 26,351 flood insurance policies in force in the state, with a total value of $4.4 million. About $424 million of coverage was held through FAIR plans, which are designed to offer coverage for some natural circumstances, such as wind and hail, in high risk areas.

In 2004, 53% of state residents held employment-based health insurance policies, 6% held individual policies, and 23% were covered under Medicare and Medicaid; 17% of residents were uninsured. In 2003, employee contributions for employment-based health coverage averaged at 13% for single coverage and 24% for family coverage. The state offers a six-month health benefits expansion program for small-firm employees in connection with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA, 1986), a health insurance program for those who lose employment-based coverage due to termination or reduction of work hours.

In 2003, there were over 2.4 million auto insurance policies in effect for private passenger cars. Required minimum coverage includes bodily injury liability of up to $25,000 per individual and $50,000 for all persons injured in an accident, as well as property damage liability of $10,000. Personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage are also required. In 2003, the average expenditure per vehicle for insurance coverage was $734.99.


There are no securities or commodities exchanges in Oregon. In 2005 there were about 2,350 securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents employed in the state. In 2004, there were over 100 publicly traded companies within the state, with over 51 NASDAQ companies, 13 NYSE listings, and 1 AMEX listings. In 2006, the state had one Fortune 500 companies; Nike, based in Beaverton and listed on the NYSE, ranked 163rd in the nation with revenues of over $13.7 billion. The NYSE-listed companies Precision Catparts, Lithia Motors, and StanCorp Financials were included on the Fortune 1,000.


Oregon's biennial budget, covering a period from 1 July of each odd-numbered year to 30 June of the next odd-numbered year, is prepared by the Executive Department and submitted by the governor to the legislature for amendment and approval. Unlike some state budgets, Oregon's is not contained in a single omnibus appropriations bill. Instead, each agency appropriation is considered as a separate measure. When the legislature is not in session, an emergency board of 17 legislators considers fiscal problems; this board may adjust budgets, allocate money from a special emergency fund, and establish new expenditure limitations, but it cannot enact new general fund appropriations. The Oregon constitution prohibits a state budget deficit and requires that all general obligation bond issues be submitted to the voters.

Fiscal year 2005 general funds were estimated at $4.8 billion for resources and $4.6 billion for expenditures. In fiscal year 2004, federal government grants to Oregon were nearly $5.2 billion.

OregonState Government Finances
(Dollar amounts in thousands. Per capita amounts in dollars.)
Abbreviations and symbols:zero or rounds to zero; (NA) not available; (X) not applicable.
source: U.S. Census Bureau, Governments Division, 2004 Survey of State Government Finances, January 2006.
Total Revenue 24,488,705 6,819.47
  General revenue 13,766,126 3,833.51
   Intergovernmental revenue 4,160,915 1,158.71
   Taxes 6,103,071 1,699.55
     General sales - -
     Selective sales 748,882 208.54
     License taxes 651,016 181.29
     Individual income tax 4,270,740 1,189.29
     Corporate income tax 320,065 89.13
     Other taxes 112,368 31.29
   Current charges 2,143,679 596.96
   Miscellaneous general revenue 1,358,461 378.30
  Utility revenue 2,016 .56
  Liquor store revenue 289,365 80.58
  Insurance trust revenue 10,431,198 2,904.82
Total expenditure 18,788,196 5,232.02
  Intergovernmental expenditure 4,637,052 1,291.30
  Direct expenditure 14,151,144 3,940.73
   Current operation 8,562,329 2,384.39
   Capital outlay 787,202 219.22
   Insurance benefits and repayments 4,074,456 1,134.63
   Assistance and subsidies 351,104 97.77
   Interest on debt 376,053 104.72
Exhibit: Salaries and wages 3,105,615 864.83
Total expenditure 18,788,196 5,232.02
  General expenditure 14,560,257 4,054.65
   Intergovernmental expenditure 4,637,052 1,291.30
   Direct expenditure 9,923,205 2,763.35
  General expenditures, by function:
   Education 5,465,246 1,521.93
   Public welfare 3,517,473 979.52
   Hospitals 677,811 188.75
   Health 285,489 79.50
   Highways 1,232,642 343.26
   Police protection 196,166 54.63
   Correction 494,152 137.61
   Natural resources 380,247 105.89
   Parks and recreation 73,727 20.53
   Government administration 946,791 263.66
   Interest on general debt 376,053 104.72
   Other and unallocable 914,460 254.65
  Utility expenditure 9,083 2.53
  Liquor store expenditure 144,400 40.21
  Insurance trust expenditure 4,074,456 1,134.63
Debt at end of fiscal year 10,495,671 2,922.77
Cash and security holdings 59,094,738 16,456.35

In the fiscal year 2007 federal budget, Oregon was slated to receive: $107.6 million to begin construction on two Portland-area fixed guideway transit systems. The first, an eight-mile MAX system extension parallel to Interstate 205, was forecast to have a 2009 ridership of over 25,000 additional weekday boardings. The second, a 15-mile project, would serve rapidly growing suburban communities west of Portland in Washington County. The state also was to receive $40 million in incremental funding for a $160 million project for I-5 bridge repair and for other improvements in the I-5 corridor; $39.8 million for major cities throughout the state to fund buses, railcars, and maintenance facilities essential to sustaining public transportation systems that serve their communities; $13 million (a $12 million increase over fiscal year 2006) to continue actions to remove the Savage Rapids Dam on Oregon's Rogue River; $8.5 million to provide transportation in rural areas statewide; and $3.8 million to improve public transportation in Oregon for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and persons with lower-incomes, providing access to job and health care facilities.


In 2005, Oregon collected $6,523 million in tax revenues or $1,791 per capita, which placed it 41st among the 50 states in per capita tax burden. The national average was $2,192 per capita. Property taxes accounted for 0.4% of the total; selective sales taxes, 10.7%; individual income taxes, 72.0%; corporate income taxes, 5.6%; and other taxes, 11.3%.

As of 1 January 2006, Oregon had three individual income tax brackets ranging from 5.0% to 9.0%. The state taxes corporations at a flat rate of 6.6%.

In 2004, state and local property taxes amounted to $3,459,371,000 or $963 per capita. The per capita amount ranks the state 28th nationally. Local governments collected $3,443,506,000 of the total and the state government $15,865,000.

Oregon taxes gasoline at 24 cents per gallon. This is in addition to the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline.

According to the Tax Foundation, for every federal tax dollar sent to Washington in 2004, Oregon citizens received $0.97 in federal spending.


Oregon actively seeks balanced economic growth in order to diversify its industrial base, reduce its dependence on the wood products industry, and provide jobs for a steadily growing labor force. The Oregon Economic and Community Development Department (OECDD) offers a variety of financial assistance and incentives to companies which create jobs, particularly for low-income residents. It extends loans and issues industrial development bonds for manufacturing, processing and tourism-related facilities in Oregon. The bonds are exempt from federal taxes. The Department enables banks to make loans to projects that carry higher than conventional risk by creating reserve accounts which function as insurance for the banks. To promote new technologies, the Oregon Resource and Technology Development Corporation invests in applied research. Enterprise zones offer incentives for new businesses. The state offers tax credits to encourage businesses to use pollution control facilities, to invest in energy conservation and to employ renewable energy resources. The De-partment provides a Guidebook and Readiness Assessment Tool to help communities assess their economic development potentials. Oregon also launched a Brand Oregon campaign in 2003, which was a statewide effort to stimulate the economy through the promotion of Oregon's local characteristics and products. The program began with the promotion of seafood. Since then, wines and cheeses have been promoted, as have organic foods.


The infant mortality rate in October 2005 was estimated at 5.5 per 1,000 live births. The birth rate in 2003 was 12.9 per 1,000 population. The abortion rate stood at 23.5 per 1,000 women in 2000. In 2003, about 81.2% of pregnant woman received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. In 2004, approximately 79% of children received routine immunizations before the age of three.

The crude death rate in 2003 was 8.7 deaths per 1,000 population. As of 2002, the death rates for major causes of death (per 100,000 resident population) were: heart disease, 206.2; cancer, 205.8; cerebrovascular diseases, 75.1; chronic lower respiratory diseases, 52.4; and diabetes, 29.6. Oregon had the third-highest death rate for cerebrovascular diseases in the nation, following Arizona and Iowa. The mortality rate from HIV infection was 2.6 per 100,000 population. In 2004, the reported AIDS case rate was at about 7.8 per 100,000 population. In 2002, about 54.4% of the population was considered overweight or obese. As of 2004, about 19.9% of state residents were smokers.

In 2003, Oregon had 58 community hospitals with about 6,800 beds. There were about 342,000 patient admissions that year and 8.2 million outpatient visits. The average daily inpatient census was about 4,000 patients. The average cost per day for hospital care was $1,842. Also in 2003, there were about 141 certified nursing facilities in the state with 12,789 beds and an overall occupancy rate of about 67.6%. In 2004, it was estimated that about 68.5% of all state residents had received some type of dental care within the year. Oregon had 269 physicians per 100,000 resident population in 2004 and 768 nurses per 100,000 in 2005. In 2004, there were a total of 1,768 dentists in the state.

About 18% of state residents were enrolled in Medicaid programs in 2003; 15% were enrolled in Medicare programs in 2004. Approximately 17% of the state population was uninsured in 2004. In 2003, state health care expenditures totaled $3.8 million.

The only medical and dental schools in the state are at the University of Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland.


The Department of Human Resources was created in 1971 to coordinate social service activities. In 2004, about 148,000 people received unemployment benefits, with the average weekly unemployment benefit at $252. For 2005, the estimated average monthly participation in the food stamp program included about 429,358 persons (218,297 households); the average monthly benefit was about $88.49 per person. That year, the total of benefits paid through the state for the food stamp program was about $455.9 million.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the system of federal welfare assistance that officially replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997, was reauthorized through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. TANF is funded through federal block grants that are divided among the states based on an equation involving the number of recipients in each state. Oregon's TANF program is called JOBS (Job Opportunities and Basic Skills). In 2004, the state program had 42,000 recipients; state and federal expenditures on this TANF program totaled $120 million in fiscal year 2003.

In December 2004, Social Security benefits were paid to 611,490 Oregon residents. This number included 406,330 retired workers, 57,330 widows and widowers, 73,750 disabled workers, 34,460 spouses, and 39,620 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 16.8% of the total state population and 95.5% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers received an average monthly payment of $964; widows and widowers, $944; disabled workers, $894; and spouses, $482. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $501 per month; children of deceased workers, $653; and children of disabled workers, $283. Federal Supplemental Security Income payments in December 2004 went to 58,842 Oregon residents, averaging $395 a month. An additional $1.7 million of state-administered supplemental payments were distributed to 16,972 residents.


During the 1970s and early 1980s, a growing percentage of new construction went for rental units. Between 1970 and 1980, the proportion of the housing stock in single-family units fell from 77% to 68%. In 2004, there were an estimated 1,535,381 housing units in Oregon, of which 1,427,711 were occupied; 63% owner-occupied. About 62.5% of all units were single-family, detached homes. Electricity and utility gas were the most common energy sources for heat. It was estimated that 56,590 units lacked telephone service, 4,834 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 10,081 lacked complete kitchen facilities. The average household had 2.46 members.

In 2004, 27,300 new privately owned units were authorized for construction. The median home value was $181,544. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $1,217. Renters paid a median of $681 per month. In September 2005, the state received grants of $649,984 from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for rural housing and economic development programs. For 2006, HUD allocated to the state over $14.2 million in community development block grants. The city of Portland received $10.4 million in community development block grants.


Passed by Oregon's legislature in 1991, the Educational Act for the 21st Century set into motion an extensive restructuring of the state's kindergarten through 12th grade public school system. Key components of the Act include raising academic standards for all students, increasing student skills and abilities needed in the workplace, involving parents in decision-making, assessing student performance, requiring accountability for results, emphasizing early childhood education, providing learning opportunities in partnership with communities, and giving local schools more freedom and autonomy.

In 2004, 87.4% of Oregon residents age 25 and older were high school graduates. Some 25.9% had obtained a bachelor's degree or higher. The total enrollment for fall 2002 in Oregon's public schools stood at 554,000. Of these, 382,000 attended schools from kindergarten through grade eight, and 172,000 attended high school. Approximately 76.6% of the students were white, 3.1% were black, 13.6% were Hispanic, 4.4% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 2.3% were American Indian/Alaskan Native. Total enrollment was estimated at 555,000 in fall 2003 and was expected to be 591,000 by fall 2014, an increase of 6.7% during the period 200214. Expenditures for public education in 2003/04 were estimated at $5.7 billion. In fall 2003 there were 46,968 students enrolled in 362 private schools. Since 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has tested public school students nationwide. The resulting report, The Nation's Report Card, stated that in 2005, eighth graders in Oregon scored 282 out of 500 in mathematics compared with the national average of 278.

As of fall 2002, there were 204,565 students enrolled in college or graduate school; minority students comprised 14.6% of total postsecondary enrollment. In 2005 Oregon had 59 degree-granting institutions including 9 public four-year schools, 17 public two-year schools, and 25 nonprofit, private four-year schools. The University of Oregon in Eugene has the highest regular enrollment, followed by Portland State University in Portland, and Oregon State University in Corvallis. The Oregon State Scholarship Commission (OSSC) administers an extensive financial aid program for state college students.

Major private higher education institutions include Willamette University, Salem; George Fox College, Newberg; Linfield College, McMinnville; and University of Portland, Reed College, Lewis and Clark College, and Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology, all in Portland.


The Oregon Arts Commission was established in 1967 and became a division of the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department in 1993. In 2005, the Oregon Arts Commission and other Oregon arts organizations received 31 grants totaling $1,187,500 from the National Endowment for the Arts. The state and private sources contribute funding for the arts as well.

The Oregon Council for the Humanities (OCH) has a number of annual historical and literary programs. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Humanities contributed $1,221,549 for 15 state programs.

The Portland Art Museum, with an associated art school, is the city's center for the visual arts. A $125 million preservation and renovation project was completed in October 2005 on the Portland Art Museum's Mark Building, featuring a new Center for Modern and Contemporary Art. The University of Oregon's Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, specializes in Oriental art. The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art reopened in January 2005, after a $14.2 million expansion project almost doubled the size of the building.

The state's most noted theatrical enterprise is the Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) in Ashland, with a complex of theaters drawing actors and audiences from around the nation. Founded in 1935, the OSF is one of the oldest and largest professional nonprofit theaters in the United States. As of 2005, OSF had presented over 780 performances annually serving approximately 360,000 visitors. The Portland Center for the Performing Arts is home to the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, the Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Oregon Children's Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Portland Youth Philharmonic, Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre, and Broadway in Portland. Salem and Eugene have small symphony orchestras of their own; in 2005 the Oregon Symphony Association in Salem celebrated its 50th anniversary.


For the fiscal year ending in June 2001, Oregon had 125 public library systems, with a total of 210 libraries, of which 89 were branches. In that same year, the total book/serial publication stock of all public libraries was 8,476,000 volumes and their combined circulation was 38,047,000. The system also had 473,000 audio and 359,000 video items, 12,000 electronic format items (CD-ROMs, magnetic tapes, and disks), and nine bookmobiles. Most cities and counties in Oregon have public library systems, the largest being the Multnomah County library system in Portland, with 14 branches and 1,288,634 volumes in 1999. The State Library in Salem serves as a reference agency for state government. In fiscal year 2001, operating income for the state's public library system was $112,473,000 and included $1,151,000 in federal grants and $729,000 in state grants.

Oregon has 105 museums, historic sites, botanical gardens and arboretums. Historical museums emphasizing Oregon's pioneer heritage appear throughout the state, with Ft. Clatsop National Memorialfeaturing a replica of Lewis and Clark's winter head-quartersamong the notable attractions. The Oregon Historical Society operates a major historical museum in Portland, publishes books of historical interest, and issues the Oregon Historical Quarterly. In Portland's Washington Park area are the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Washington Park Zoo, Western Forestry Center, and an arboretum and other gardens.


As of 2004, 95.5% of Oregon's households had telephones. In addition, by June of that same year there were 1,894,285 mobile wireless telephone subscribers. In 2003, 67.0% of Oregon households had a computer and 61.0% had Internet access. By June 2005, there were 561,867 high-speed lines in Oregon, 505,260 residential and 56,607 for business. Oregon had 37 major AM and 86 major FM commercial radio stations in 2005; and 24 major television stations. A state-owned broadcasting system provides educational radio and television programming. The Portland area had over one million television households, 62% of which ordered cable in 1999. A total of 97,453 Internet domain names were registered in the state as of 2000.


Oregon's first newspaper was the weekly Oregon Spectator, which began publication in 1846. Early newspapers engaged in what became known as the "Oregon style" of journalism, characterized by intemperate, vituperative, and fiercely partisan comments. As of 2005, 7 morning, 13 evening, and 12 Sunday newspapers were published in Oregon. The state's largest newspaper, the Oregonian, published in Portland, is owned by Advance Publications.

The following table lists leading Oregon newspapers with their approximate 2005 circulations:

Eugene Register-Guard (m,S) 79,266 75,460
Portland Oregonian (all day,S) 324,863 405,295
Salem Statesman-Journal (m,S) 53,366 61,652


In 2006, there were over 3,390 nonprofit organizations registered within the state, of which about 2,459 were registered as charitable, educational, or religious organizations. Among the many forestry-related organizations in Oregon are the International Woodworkers of America (AFL-CIO), Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers, Pacific Lumber Exporters Association, Western Forest Industries Association, and Western Wood Products Association, all with their headquarters in Portland. State and national conservation issues are represented in part by the Native Fish Society, the Native Forest Council, and the Natural Areas Association. The National Indian Child Welfare Association is based in Portland.

Other national organizations based in the state are the Hop Growers of America and the North American Bungee Association. Local history is represented in part through the Big Butte Historical Society and the Oregon Trail Travelers, as well as several other regional historical societies. The United States Judo Federation is based in Ontario.


Oregon's abundance and variety of natural features and recreational opportunities make the state a major tourist attraction. Travel and tourism is the state's third-largest employer, generating over 94,500 jobs. In 2002, travel revenues reached $6.3 billion. The Oregon Tourism Commission maintains an active tourist advertising program, and Portland hotels busily seek major conventions.

Among the leading attractions are the rugged Oregon coast, with its off shore salmon fishing; Crater Lake National Park; the Rogue River, for river running and fishing; the Columbia Gorge, east of Portland; the Cascades wilderness; and Portland's annual Rose Festival. Oregon has one national park, Crater Lake, and three other areasJohn Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon Caves National Monument, and Ft. Clatsop National Memorialmanaged by the National Park Service. The US Forest Service administers the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, on the Oregon coast; the Lava Lands Visitor Complex near Bend; and the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, east of Enterprise. Oregon has one of the nation's most extensive state park systems: 225 parks and recreation areas cover 90,000 acres (36,400 hectares). Portland and the Mt. Hood area attracts many mountain climbers and outdoor recreation seekers. There are places one can travel the original Oregon Trail of Westward expansion. In 2006 Oregon was celebrating the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition.


Oregon has one major league team, based in Portland. The Portland Trail Blazers, winners of the National Basketball Association championship in 1977, play in the NBA. The Portland Beavers are a Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The state fields three teams that compete in baseball's class-A Northwest League, in Eugene and Salem.

Horse racing takes place at Portland Meadows in Portland and, in late August and early September, at the Oregon State Fair in Salem. There is greyhound racing at the Multnomah Greyhound Park near Portland. Pari-mutuel betting is permitted at the tracks, but off-track betting is prohibited.

The University of Oregon and Oregon State University belong to the Pacific 10 Conference. The Oregon State Ducks won the Rose Bowl in 1942 and appeared in, but lost, in 1965. Oregon was a surprise winner at the Pac-10 in 1994, and made its first Rose Bowl appearance in 37 years. The Ducks lost to Penn State in the 1995 Rose Bowl. Since 1996, the Ducks have won several bowl contests, highlighted by a victory over the Colorado Buffaloes in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl.

Other annual sporting events include sled dog races in Bend and Union Creek, the All-Indian Rodeo in Tygh Valley in May (one of many rodeos), and the Cycle Oregon Bike Ride.


Prominent federal officeholders from Oregon include Senator Charles McNary (18741944), a leading advocate of federal reclamation and development projects and the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 1940; Senator Wayne Morse (b.Wisconsin, 19001974), who was an early opponent of US involvement in VietNam; Representative Edith Green (19101984), a leader in federal education assistance; and Representative Al Ullman (b.Montana, 19141986), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee until his defeat in 1980. Recent cabinet members from Oregon have been Douglas McKay (18931959), secretary of the interior; and Neil Goldschmidt (b.1940) secretary of transportation.

A major figure in early Oregon history was sea captain Robert Gray (b.Rhode Island. 17551806), discoverer of the Columbia River. Although never holding a government position, fur trader Dr. John McLoughlin (b.Canada, 17841857) in effect ruled Oregon from 1824 to 1845; he was officially designated the "father of Oregon" by the 1957 state legislature. Also of importance in the early settlement was Methodist missionary Jason Lee (b.Canada, 180345). Oregon's most famous Indian was Chief Joseph (1840?1904), leader of the Nez Percé in northeastern Oregon; when tension between the Nez Percé and white settlers erupted into open hostilities in 1877, Chief Joseph led his band of about 650 men, women, and children from the Oregon-Idaho border across the Bitterroot Range evading three army detachments before being captured in northern Montana.

Other important figures in the early days of statehood were Harvey W. Scott (b.Illinois 18381910), longtime editor of the Portland Oregonian, and his sister, Abigail Scott Duniway (b.Illinois, 18231915), the Northwest's foremost advocate of women's suffrage, a cause her brother strongly opposed. William Simon U'Ren (b.Wisconsin, 18591949) was a lawyer and reformer whose influence on Oregon politics and government endures to this day. Journalist and Communist John Reed (18871920), author of Ten Days That Shook the World, an eyewitness account of the Bolshevik Revolution, was born in Portland, and award-winning science-fiction writer Ursula K. LeGuin (b.California, 1929) is a Portland resident. Linus Pauling (190194), two-time winner of the Nobel Prize (for chemistry in 1954, for peace in 1962) was another Portland native. Other scientists prominent in the state's history include botanist David Douglas (b.Scotland, 17981834), who made two trips to Oregon and after whom the Douglas fir is named; and geologist and paleontologist Thomas Condon (b.Ireland, 18221907), discoverer of major fossil beds in eastern Oregon.


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Blair, Karen J. Northwest Women: An Annotated Bibliography of Sources on the History of Oregon and Washington Women, 17871970. Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1997.

Council of State Governments. The Book of the States, 2006 Edition. Lexington, Ky.: Council of State Governments, 2006.

Cressman, Luther Sheeleigh. The Sandal & the Cave: The Indians of Oregon. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2005.

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Lansing, Jewel Beck. Portland: People, Politics, and Power, 18512001. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2003.

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Webber, Bert, and Margie Webber. Awesome Caverns of Marble in the Oregon Caves National Monuement. Medford, Ore.: Webb Research Group Publishers, 1998.

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OREGON. The word Oregon first appeared in print as the name of a great river flowing westward from the Great Lakes into the Pacific in Jonathan Carver's Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America in the Years 1766, 1767, and 1768 (1778). The word's origin is uncertain. It may have been a misreading of the word Ouisconsin on an early map or it may derive from the word ooligan, an Indian word for the smelt, a fish widely traded in the western parts of North America.

Originally much larger than the state of Oregon, Oregon Country ran from the present-day Oregon-California border to today's Alaska-Canada border and ran westward from the crest of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Oregon Indians

Humans have lived in this region for at least 14,000 years. The first people probably came by a land bridge from Siberia over to Alaska, and then filtered southward to the Pacific Northwest. Over time, they separated into three major cultural groupings. Along the coast of modern Oregon lived Salishan, Penutian, and Athapaskan speakers. In the plateau region of central and eastern Oregon were Sahaptian speakers. In the southeast were the Northern Paiutes. Although Oregon Indians were divided by area and language, they shared certain characteristics. All of them hunted, foraged, fished, and traded; and, unusual for North American Indians, they did not practice agriculture. Salmon was the staple food for most Oregon Indians. It was also an important article of trade, the basis for an important religious ceremony, and served as a motif in their art. The Indians' religion was animism, a belief

that natural beings or objects have supernatural spirits. Political and social life was based upon village-clan groups rather than on tribes.

Maritime Explorers

The first white explorers came to Oregon by sea. Spain sent the first documented explorer, Juan Cabrillo, in 1542. After Cabrillo's death, his second in command, Bartolomé Ferrelo, reached the southwestern coast in 1543 looking for a passageway between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the Northwest Passage. The Englishman Francis Drake may have seen the Oregon coast just north of the forty-second parallel in 1579. After another Spanish expedition in 1603 that reached perhaps as far north as forty-three degrees, maritime exploration ended for over 170 years.

It resumed in 1774 when Spain sent Juan Pérez to forestall an anticipated Russian advance into the Oregon Country from their base in Alaska. In 1775, Bruno de Heceta discovered what would later be named the Columbia River, though he did not enter it. In 1776, the British government sent James Cook to the Northwest to search for the Northwest Passage and to claim the land for Great Britain. Cook reached Oregon, but like his predecessors, he did not land. After Cook's death in Hawaii, his men reached China and discovered a profitable market for the sea otter furs they had acquired from the Indians of Vancouver Island. News of this sent the first British businessman, James Hanna, to Oregon in 1785 to trade for furs with the Indians.

The Fur Trade and Lewis and Clark

The first American citizen to reach Oregon was a fur trader, Robert Gray, whose ship arrived in 1788. Gray returned in 1792 and on 12 May entered the Columbia River, which he named for his ship. A short time later, a British naval officer, George Vancouver, entered the Columbia River and sent a party, commanded by William Broughton, approximately 120 miles upriver, that helped establish a British claim to the Oregon Country. In 1793, Alexander Mackenzie, a fur trader for the North West Company, reached the Pacific at the mouth of the Bella Coola River in modern British Columbia, initiating over-land exploration to the Northwest Coast. In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to lead the first American overland expedition. The objectives of this expedition were to find the best route between the waters of the Columbia and Missouri Rivers for the purpose of the fur trade; to inventory the flora and fauna; to make commercial arrangements with the Indians; and to strengthen the American claim to Oregon first established by Robert Gray. On 16 October 1805, the expedition first entered the Oregon Country at the junction of the Snake and Columbia rivers. They spent from 25 December 1805 to 23 March 1806 at Fort Clatsop, near present-day Seaside, Oregon.

After the Lewis and Clark expedition, fur traders came to the region. In 1805, the Canadian North West Company established a post in what is now British Columbia. John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company, the first American inland fur trading company, established its headquarters at Fort Astoria in 1811 at the mouth of the Columbia River.

The Question of Sovereignty

By the early nineteenth century, ownership of the Oregon Country was disputed among Spain, Britain, Russia, and the United States. In 1818, Britain and the United States made a joint occupation agreement that postponed the question of sovereignty, but allowed each country to govern its own citizens. (At this time there were no American citizens living in Oregon.) Spain relinquished its claims to Oregon in 1819; and Russia gave up its claims to the area to the United States and Britain, respectively, in 1824 and 1825. In 1827, the joint occupation treaty was renewed.

The Missionaries

American missionaries arrived in the region in the 1830s. Methodist missionaries, under the leadership of Jason Lee, arrived in 1834 to Christianize and civilize the Indians of the Willamette Valley. They settled near today's Salem, Oregon, and moved the mission headquarters there in 1841. By the 1830s, however, the Indians in the Willamette Valley had been decimated by disease and their numbers were greatly reduced. In 1836, Dr. Marcus Whitman led a party sent by the Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Dutch Reformed churches to the Oregon country. It included Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spalding, the first white women to settle in Oregon. Their first mission stations were at Lapwai, in present-day Idaho, and Waiilatpu, near present-day Walla Walla, Washington. In 1837, Cayuse Indians destroyed the Whitman mission. In 1838, the Roman Catholics sent their first missionaries, Modeste Demers and Francis Blanchet, who set up their initial stations on the Cowlitz River in present-day Washington State and at St. Paulnear the Willamette River in Oregon.

The Pioneer Generation

Fur traders and missionaries publicized Oregon to the American public. In the early 1840s, large numbers of pioneers began to come over the Oregon Trail to the Willamette Valley. Most of them came from the farms of the Middle West. They left home to escape harsh weather and frequent sickness, to flee the national depression that began in 1837, or simply for the sake of adventure. Most came, though, for a better material life on the rich soils of the Willamette Valley. A minority of Oregon emigrants of the pre-Civil War era were young businessmen who came from Northeastern cities to pursue mercantile careers in the urban areas of Oregon. Chinese immigrants began to come to the southern Oregon gold fields in the 1850s, and there were a few African Americans in Oregon before the Civil War.

The presence of these new settlers was a factor in the making of the Oregon Treaty of 1846, which was negotiated by President James K. Polk. This agreement divided the Oregon Country at the forty-ninth parallel, with Great Britain obtaining the land to the north. In local government, the American settlers comprised the principal group creating the Provisional Government of 1843, which guaranteed squatters' land claims, and law and order, until the Treaty of 1846 decided the sovereignty question. In 1848, Congress created the Territory of Oregon. Joseph Lane was its first governor. In 1853, the Territory of Washington was split off from Oregon. On 14 February 1859, Oregon became the thirty-third state. The provisions of its constitution, such as the separation of powers, were similar to those of the Midwestern states.

Before the Civil War, Oregon's political life was largely based upon local issues. The Democrats were the majority party, but Whigs and Republicans also had many supporters. The major national issue was whether slavery should extend to the federal territories. In the presidential election of 1860, Oregonians favored the Republican Abraham Lincoln who opposed the expansion of slavery into the territories. When the Civil War came, there were no battles in Oregon and few Oregonians fought in the eastern theaters.

During the pioneer era, most Oregonians were farmers. Some towns sprang up and one major city, Portland. Oregonians exported wheat, cattle, and lumber to California in return for gold. In cultural life, churches, schools, and colleges were begun. Indian wars broke out in the 1850s when gold miners going to Southern Oregon caused the Rogue River War (1855–1856). In other parts of Oregon, white farmers encroached on Indian lands resulting in the Indians being placed on reservations. In 1855, the Warm Springs Reservation was created in Central Oregon for the Wasco, Walla Walla, and later the Paiutes.

Economics and Politics

In the 1880s, Oregon became more integrated into the national economy with the arrival of the Northern Pacific and Union Pacific transcontinental railroads. Some local industry developed, but wheat and lumber were the basis of the economy. Wheat farmers benefited from the reduction

in transportation costs the railroad brought, as well as from mechanization and cheap land. Lumber exports also gained from low railroad rates, from mechanical inventions such as double circular saws, and from building booms in California, on the East Coast, and overseas. Cattlemen ran their stock on the open ranges of eastern Oregon and sheepherders competed with them for this pasturage. The salmon canning industry began on the Columbia River in 1867. By the beginning of the twentieth century, its effects were felt in reduced salmon runs.

After the Civil War, the Democrat and Republican parties as well as a few third parties grappled with several issues. The most important issue was the regulation of the railroads, especially the Southern Pacific Railroad. Critics of the railroads charged that rates were too high and service inadequate. This worked to corrupt the political system, as legislators were bribed. The first political opponent of the railroads was the Oregon State Grange, organized in 1873. It worked for railroad regulation with little success, except for the creation of a railroad commission in 1887 that had investigative but not regulatory powers.

Abigail Scott Duniway led the fight for woman's suffrage. In 1871, she began a newspaper in Portland called The New Northwest. Duniway also worked for a woman's suffrage constitutional amendment. Although the amendment was defeated in 1874, Duniway persevered and the amendment was passed in 1912.

In the late nineteenth century, Oregon's population became more ethnically diverse. The African American population rose as the railroads created economic opportunities for black migrants. They worked in the car shops, roundhouses, and yards in Portland, Roseburg, and La Grande. They also worked as Pullman and dining car employees and as teamsters and porters around the railroad stations. Chinese immigrants worked as farm laborers, salmon canners, construction workers, and domestic servants. Japanese immigrants were employed as farmers, truck gardeners, and railroad tracklayers. Asian immigrants, both Chinese and Japanese, were victims of widespread discrimination. In contrast to Asians and blacks, immigrants from Great Britain, Germany, and the Nordic lands were welcomed and assimilated easily.

Industry in the Twentieth Century

In the twentieth century, agriculture, lumber, cattle, sheep, and fishing were the most productive sectors of the economy until the rise of the technology and tourist industries. The first attempt to attract tourists was the Columbia River Scenic Highway built from 1913 to 1922. In the 1940s, technology companies such as Electro Scientific Industries and Tektronix were founded in Portland. In later years, other homegrown technology companies were started, and imports from other states, such as Intel and Hewlett-Packard, and from other nations, such as Epson and Fujitsu, established themselves in Oregon.

The Progressive Movement and After

Oregon's politics in the past century went through progressive and conservative phases. William S. U'Ren led the Progressive movement. It was caused by a variety of discontents: farmers and businessmen still concerned about the monopolistic power of the railroad; industrial workers desiring improved wages, hours, and working conditions; citizens frustrated with corruption in state and municipal politics; and those fearful of the social problems of growing urban areas. Progressivism was not based on a third party, but had both Democrat and Republican supporters, who effected many changes. In 1902, Oregon adopted the initiative and referendum. Other reforms followed: the direct primary (1904), the recall (1908), the presidential preference primary (1910), and woman's suffrage (1912). Progressives also passed social and economic legislation, including a ten-hour day for women in factories and laundries (1903) upheld by the Supreme Court in Muller vs. Oregon (1908). Taxes were raised on public utilities and public carriers (1906), an eight-hour day was adopted for public works projects (1912), and an eight-hour day was set for women workers in certain occupations (1914). In 1903, Oregon obtained a child labor law and a state board of health. A workman's compensation law was established in 1913; prohibition was enacted in 1914; and Oregon passed the nation's first gasoline tax in 1919.

The most contentious political development in the 1920s was the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. The group helped enact an initiative requiring parents to send their children to public rather than private or parochial schools. Passed in 1922, the law was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1925. Soon after this decision, the Klan faded away. The majority of Oregonians voted for Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, 1936, and 1940, but they elected conservative or moderate, mainly Republican, governors, state legislators, congressmen, and senators.

Environmental Legislation

After the close of World War II, Oregon became a two-party state. In the 1960s, it captured national attention with a series of environmental laws: the Willamette River Park System Act (1967) and the Willamette Greenway Act (1973), a revision of its predecessor. An unprecedented system of statewide land use was enacted (1969, 1973). In 1970, the Oregon Scenic Water Ways Act was passed, as was an act in 1975 that banned the use of fluorocarbons in aerosol spray cans. During the 1980s and 1990s, Oregon politics became more conservative as voters became less willing to spend tax dollars. In 1990, Ballot Measure 5, a property tax limitation, was adopted as a constitutional amendment, which had the effect of crippling state services, such as higher education. Oregon's governors from the late 1980s to the early 2000s were all Democrats: Neil Goldschmidt (1987–1991), Barbara Roberts (1991–1995), and John Kitzhaber (1995–2003), but they accomplished little because of Republican strength in the state legislature. On the national level, Senator Bob Packwood (1969–1995) was a proponent of tax simplification, while Senator Mark O. Hatfield (1967–1996) was best known for championing a noninterventionist foreign policy in Vietnam and opposing a federal constitutional amendment to balance the national budget. Senator Wayne Morse (1945–1969) was an advocate for organized labor and an early opponent of the Vietnam War.

A More Diverse Population

Oregon's population became more diverse in the twentieth century. Many immigrants came from southern, eastern, and central Europe. Japanese immigrants suffered from the prejudice of white Oregonians, and were placed in internment camps during the Second World War. At the conclusion of the war, some returned to Oregon.

Native Americans were affected by changes in national policy. The Wheeler-Howard Act in 1934 permitted Indians to reorganize into tribes, but the Termination Policy in 1953 then broke up many of the remaining tribes. Beginning in the 1980s, some Native Americans obtained tribal recognition again. The African American presence increased greatly during World War II, when many blacks came to Oregon to work in the shipyards. They built upon existing community institutions and gained their first member of the state legislature in 1973 and their first statewide office holder in 1993. Oregon's Hispanic population also grew. For much of the century Hispanics worked as migratory farm workers, but by the end of the century most had settled into permanent residences in towns and cities. In the 2000 census 86.6% of Oregonians were white, 8% Hispanic, 3% Asian, 1.6% African American, and 1.3% American Indian.

Late Twentieth-Century Cultural Developments

In cultural life, support of public libraries and bookstores was above the national average, and Oregonians gained distinction in literature. Don Berry published a trilogy of historical novels about the pioneer era including Trask (1960), Moontrap (1962), and To Build a Ship(1963), while Ken Kesey received acclaim for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962) and Sometimes A Great Notion (1964); both were made into motion pictures. Ursula Le Guin was one of the world's most distinguished authors of science fantasy. Craig Lesley's works included Winterkill (1984) and River Song (1989) and Molly Gloss wrote The Jump-Off Creek (1989) and Wild Life (2000). In architecture, Pietro Belluschi founded the Northwest Style, which uses regional materials to construct churches and residences that fit their natural surroundings.


Abbott, Carl. Portland: Planning, Politics, and Growth in a Twentieth-Century City. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983.

Carey, Charles H. General History of Oregon Through Early State-hood. 3rd ed. Portland, Ore.: Binfords & Mort, 1971.

Clark, Malcolm, Jr. Eden Seekers: The Settlement of Oregon, 1818– 1862. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1981.

Dodds, Gordon B. Oregon: A Bicentennial History. New York: W.W. Norton, 1977.

———. The American Northwest: A History of Oregon and Washington. Arlington Heights, Ill.: Forum Press, 1986.

Johansen, Dorothy O. Empire of the Columbia: A History of the Pacific Northwest. 2d ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1967.

MacColl, E. Kimbark. Merchants, Money and Power: The Portland Establishment, 1843–1913. Portland, Ore.: The Georgian Press, 1988.

MacColl, E. Kimbark. The Growth of a City: Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon, 1915 to 1950. Portland, Ore.: The Georgian Press, 1979.

Merk, Frederick. The Oregon Question: Essays in Anglo-American Diplomacy and Politics. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967.

Morison, Dorothy Nafus. Outpost: John McLoughlin and the Far Northwest. Portland: Oregon Historical Society Press, 1999.

Robbins, William G. Landscapes of Promise: The Oregon Story, 1800–1940. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997.

Walth, Brent. Fire at Eden's Gate: Tom McCall & The Oregon Story. Portland: Oregon Historical Society Press, 1994.

Gordon B.Dodds

See alsoColumbia River Exploration and Settlement ; Fur Trade and Trapping ; Joint Occupation ; Lumber Industry ; Pacific Northwest ; Tribes: Northwestern ; andvol. 9:Women in Industry (Brandeis Brief) .

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Oregon (state, United States)

Oregon (ŏr´Ĭgən, –gŏn), state in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. It is bordered by Washington, largely across the Columbia River (N), Idaho, partially across the Snake River (E), Nevada and California (S), and the Pacific Ocean (W).

Facts and Figures

Area, 96,981 sq mi (251,181 sq km). Pop. (2010) 3,831,074, a 12% increase since the 2000 census. Capital, Salem. Largest city, Portland. Statehood, Feb. 14, 1859 (33d state). Highest pt., Mt. Hood, 11,239 ft (3,428 m); lowest pt., sea level. Nickname, Beaver State. Motto, The Union. State bird, Western meadowlark. State flower, Oregon grape. State tree, Douglas fir. Abbr., Oreg.; OR


Oregon's contrasting physical features are characterized by great forested mountain slopes and treeless basins, rushing rivers and barren playas, lush valleys and extensive wastelands. The major determinant for these unusual climatic differences is the Cascade Range, a rugged mountain chain running north to south c.100 mi (160 km) inland. As the eastward-moving air masses, warmed by the Alaska Current and heavy with moisture from the Pacific Ocean, rise and meet the cooler mountain temperatures, rain is precipitated over the western third of Oregon. Dry air and continental climate prevail over the eastern two thirds of the state.

The Pacific shoreline (c.300 mi/480 km) is bordered by narrow coastal plains of sandy beaches, luxuriant pastures, and occasional jutting promontories. About 25 mi (40 km) inland, the rugged Coast Range rises to heights of 4,000 ft (1,220 m) to serve as the western wall of the Willamette Valley. In the valley, where the navigable Willamette flows north through miles of rolling farmlands into the Columbia River, lie the agricultural, commercial, and industrial centers of the state. Portland, the largest city, whose metropolitan area contains nearly half the state's population, straddles the Willamette near its junction with the Columbia. Salem, the capital, and Eugene, the second largest city, lie southward in the valley, which is sealed off in the south by the low range of the Calapooya Mts.

The snowcapped volcanic peaks of the Cascades are E of the Willamette, with beautiful Mt. Hood rising to the state's highest elevation (11,235 ft/3,424 m). Mighty stands of timber, many protected as national forests, cover the slopes. Eastward the Cascades level out into high plateaus drained in the north by the Deschutes and the John Day rivers. To the south a variegated pattern of marshland and mountain merges in the east into the semiarid Basin and Range Region. Little vegetation grows here, and the absence of potable water makes habitation difficult.

North of this area rise the pine-covered Blue and Wallowa mts., which in some places extend to the Snake River to form precipitous gorges. Other parts of the region where the Snake cuts through the plateau are more level and have been made productive through irrigation. Oregon's irrigation projects include the Deschutes, the Umatilla, and the Vale; the Klamath, shared with California; and the Boise and the Owyhee, shared with Idaho.


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.

The state's 30.7 million acres (12.4 million hectares) of rich forestland (almost half the state) comprise the country's greatest reserves of standing timber; huge areas have been set aside for conservation. Wood processing was long the state's major industry; Douglas fir predominates in the Cascades and western pine in the eastern regions. Since 1991 many areas have been closed to logging in order to protect endangered wildlife. Nevertheless, Oregon has retained its title as the nation's foremost lumber state, producing more than 5 billion board feet a year. Other major products are food, paper and paper items, machinery, and fabricated metals. Printing and publishing are important businesses. In recent decades Oregon (now sometimes called "Silicon Forest" ) has become home to many computer and electronic companies; growth in this sector has offset job losses in the timber industry.

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. Although mining is still underdeveloped, Oregon leads the nation in the production of nickel.

Oregon's beautiful ocean beaches, lakes, and mountains make tourism another important industry. Major attractions are the Oregon Caves National Monument, Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks, and McLoughlin House National Historic Site (see National Parks and Monuments, table); Crater Lake National Park is a famed destination. There are 13 national forests, one national grassland, and more than 220 state parks.

Government and Higher Education

Oregon still operates under its original (1857) constitution. Its executive branch is headed by a governor elected for a four-year term. Its legislature has a senate with 30 members and an assembly with 60 members. The state elects two senators and five representatives to the U.S. Congress and has seven electoral votes. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat elected governor in 1994, was reelected in 1998. He was succeeded by fellow Democrat Ted Kulongoski, who was elected in 2002 and reelected in 2006. In 2010 Kitzhaber was again elected governor. He was reelected in 2014 but resigned in 2015 amid investigations into his fiancée's financial affairs. Kate Brown, a Democrat and Oregon's secretary of state, succeeded him as governor.

Among the state's more prominent institutions of higher learning are the Univ. of Oregon at Eugene; Oregon State Univ. at Corvallis; Reed College and Portland State Univ. at Portland; and Willamette Univ. at Salem.


Early Exploration and Fur Trading

Initial European interest in the region was aroused by the search for the Northwest Passage. Spanish seamen skirted the Pacific coast from the 16th to the 18th cent., hoping to claim the area. The English may first have arrived in the person of Sir Francis Drake, who sailed along the coast in 1579, possibly as far as Oregon.

Two centuries later, in 1778, Capt. James Cook, seeking the award of £20,000 for the discovery of the Northwest Passage, charted some of the coastline. By this time the Russians were pushing southward from posts in Alaska and the British fur companies were exploring the West. Oregon's furs promised to become an important factor in the rapidly expanding China trade, and the Oregon coast was soon active with the vessels of several nations engaged in fur trade with the Native Americans. British captains, among them John Meares and George Vancouver, made the coastal area known, but it was an American, Robert Gray, who first sailed up the Columbia River (1792), thus establishing U.S. claim to the areas that it drained.

Canadian traders of the North West Company were approaching the Columbia River country when the overland Lewis and Clark expedition arrived in 1805. David Thompson was already making his way to the lower river when John Jacob Astor's agents (in the Pacific Fur Company) founded Astoria, the first permanent settlement in the Oregon country. In the War of 1812 the post was sold (1813) to the North West Company, but in 1818 a treaty provided for 10 years of joint rights for the United States and Great Britain in Oregon (i.e., the whole Columbia River area). This agreement was later extended. The North West Company merged with the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821, and soon the region was dominated by John McLoughlin at Fort Vancouver.

Settlement and Statehood

In 1842 and 1843 enormous wagon trains began the "great migration" westward over the Oregon Trail. Trouble between the settlers and the British followed. The Americans set out to form their own government, and demanded the British be removed from the whole of the Columbia River country up to lat. 54°40′N; one of the slogans of the 1844 election was "Fifty-four forty or fight." War with Britain was a threat momentarily, but diplomacy prevailed. In 1846 the boundary was set at the line of lat. 49°N, but disagreements over the interpretation of the 1846 treaty were not successfully arbitrated until 1872 (see San Juan Boundary Dispute).

Two years later the Oregon Territory was created, embracing the area W of the Rockies from the 42d to the 49th parallel. The area was reduced with the creation of the Washington Territory in 1853, and Oregon became a state in 1859 with a constitution that prohibited slaveholding but also forbade free blacks from entering the state. Although the California gold rush caused a temporary exodus of settlers, it also brought a new market for Oregon's goods, and the Oregon gold strike that followed attracted some permanent settlement to the eastern hills and valleys.

Wheat farming prospered and in 1867–68 a surplus crop was shipped to England—the beginning of Oregon's great wheat export trade. Cattle and sheep were driven up from California to graze on the tallgrass of the semiarid plateaus, and soon cattle barons, such as Henry Miller, acquired huge herds. They dominated the industry until the late 19th cent., when sheepmen and homesteaders succeeded in reducing the cattle range. The 1850s, 60s, and 70s were plagued by Native American uprisings, but by 1880 troubles with the Native American were over, and the next few decades brought increasing settlement and internal improvements.

Railroads and Industrialization

During the 1880s, and largely under the management of Henry Villard of the Northern Pacific RR, transcontinental rail lines were completed to the coast and down the Willamette Valley into California, bringing new trade and stimulating the beginnings of manufacture. Lumbering, which had long been important, became a leading industry. Seemingly overnight logging camps and sawmills were built in the western foothills. The huge stands of Douglas fir and cedar brought fortunes to the lumbering kings, but the threat to natural resources led ultimately to the creation of national forests.

By the time of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition at Portland in 1905, less than 50 years after statehood had been gained, the frontier era had passed. Most of the feuding on the eastern plateaus was over, and cattle and sheep grazed peacefully on fenced-in ranges. In spring the Willamette Valley was abloom with fruit blossoms, and the river cities were busy with trade and industry.

Reform Movements and Environmental Issues

Oregon has been a leader in social, environmental, and political reforms. It was the first state, for example, to institute initiative, referendum, and recall; to ease the laws governing the use of marijuana; and to initiate a ban against nonrecyclable containers. Several issues have sharply divided conservatives and liberals; one of the most important has been the question of minority groups. In the 1880s the influx of Chinese threatened the labor market and brought violent anti-Chinese sentiment, and in the 20th cent. there was opposition to the Japanese. Feeling against minorities has never been statewide, however, and large groups have vigorously opposed it.

In the 1930s one of the most disputed issues was the question of whether the development of power should be public or private. Today, however, it is widely recognized that the federal power and irrigation projects have had a profoundly positive effect on the economy of the entire Pacific Northwest. Many acres have been opened to irrigated farming, and the tremendous industrial expansion of World War II was to a large extent dependent on Bonneville power.

Environmental issues have dominated Oregon politics since the 1970s. Controversy arose in the late 1980s over the spotted owl, which has become endangered as old-growth forest has been cut down. Restrictions on logging on public lands were initiated in 1991, and attempts to establish forest policies acceptable to both environmentalists and the timber industry bogged down as other species were also shown to be in danger. There also is concern that the state's numerous hydroelectric dams are disrupting the migratory cycle of Pacific salmon.


See R. Atkeson, Oregon Coast (1972); W. G. Loy et al., Atlas of Oregon (1976); W. A. Bowen, The Willamette Valley: Migration and Settlement on the Oregon Frontier (1978); S. and E. Dicken, Two Centuries of Oregon Geography (Vol. I, 1979; Vol. II, 1982) and Oregon Divided: A Regional Geography (1982).

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Eugene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 461

Portland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 471

Salem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 483

The State in Brief

Nickname: Beaver State

Motto: Alis Volat Propriis (She flies with her own wings)

Flower: Oregon grape

Bird: Western meadowlark

Area: 98,380 square miles (2000; U.S. rank: 9th)

Elevation: Ranges from sea level to 11,239 feet above sea level

Climate: Mild and humid with frequent rainfall in western third; dry with extremes of temperature in the interior two-thirds

Admitted to Union: February 14, 1859

Capital: Salem

Head Official: Governor Ted Kulongoski (D) (until 2007)


1980: 2,633,105

1990: 2,842,321

2000: 3,421,399

2004 estimate: 3,594,586

Percent change, 19902000: 20.4%

U.S. rank in 2004: 27th

Percent of residents born in state: 45.3% (2000)

Density: 35.6 people per square mile (2000)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 171,443

Racial and Ethnic Characteristics (2000)

White: 2,961,623

Black or African American: 55,662

American Indian and Alaska Native: 45,211

Asian: 101,350

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 7,976

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 275,314

Other: 144,832

Age Characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 223,005

Population 5 to 19 years old: 720,999

Percent of population 65 years and over: 12.8%

Median age: 36.3 years (2000)

Vital Statistics

Total number of births (2003): 45,911

Total number of deaths (2003): 30,973 (infant deaths, 270)

AIDS cases reported through 2003: 2,586


Major industries: Manufacturing; finance, insurance, and real estate; trade

Unemployment rate: 6.6% (February 2005)

Per capita income: $28,806 (2003; U.S. rank: 32nd)

Median household income: $42,429 (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Percentage of persons below poverty level: 11.6% (1999)

Income tax rate: Ranges from 5.0% to 9.0%

Sales tax rate: None

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Oregon State of nw USA, on the Pacific coast; the capital is Salem. Other major cities include Portland and Eugene. Trading posts were set up in the 1790s, mainly by the Hudson's Bay Company. From 1842, the Oregon Trail brought more settlers. Oregon Territory was formed in 1848, and was admitted to the Union in 1859. It is dominated by the forested slopes of the Cascade Range and the Coast ranges. Between the two lies the fertile Willamette Valley. The Columbia and the Willamette are the major rivers. Agriculture includes cattle, dairy produce, wheat, and market garden products. Oregon produces more than 20% of the nation's softwood timber. Area: 251,180sq km (96,981sq mi). Pop. (2000) 3,421,399.

Statehood :

February 14, 1859

Nickname :

The Beaver State

State bird :

Western meadowlark

State flower :

Oregon grape

State tree :

Douglas fir

State motto :

She flies with her own wings

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Oregon (city, United States)

Oregon, city (1990 pop. 18,334), Lucas co., NW Ohio, a suburb adjacent to Toledo, on Lake Erie; inc. 1958. It is a port with railroad-owned and -operated docks. The city has industries producing oil, chemicals, and metal products. The majority of the city's area is open farmland, where tomatoes, soybeans, greenhouse vegetables, fruits, and grains are grown.

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Jazz group

For the Record

Selected discography


For more than three decades, Oregon has occupied a hard-to-define niche between jazz and classical chamber music. Members Ralph Towner, Paul McCandless, and Glen Moore have remained a distinctive and idiosyncratic musical entity, continuing to tour and record after weathering the loss of percussionist Collin Walcott in 1984. The band began exploring the blending of Western and Third World musical traditions years before such hybrids became commonplace, and continues to follow its own creative path with little concession to commercial fashion. Oregon has been credited with anticipating the rise of New Age and World Beat music styles, though they have disavowed such associations in interviews.

Since its inception, Oregon has confounded easy labeling by critics. The music is hard to categorize, writer Dick Nusser noted in a 1977 Billboard concert review. Some of the best of it is improvisatory, but it is still not jazz. The groups ability to develop and comment on a theme puts it close to classical music, but the underlying thought is always modern. It uses microphones, but could be described as acoustic. Suffice it to say, Oregon is unique.

Each of Oregons founding members brought a seasoned instrumental talent to the band. Towner began as a piano and trumpet student while in high school in Bend, Oregon, then took up the classical guitar while studying composition at the University of Oregon in Eugene. It was there in 1960 that he met fellow student Glen Moore, a Portland native who had studied classical bass in Europe. They began working together in clubs, playing a mixture of Bill Evans jazz material and Brazilian music. During the 1960s, they worked as backup musicians for singer/songwriter Tim Hardin and played on occation with Collin Wolcott, a New York-born percussionist with a degree in ethnomusicology from UCLA and training on sitar and tabla. In 1969, Towner, Moore and Walcott were recruited to join the Paul Winter Consort, an eclectic ensemble combining classical, jazz and ethnic music. Also in the Consort was Pennsylvania native Paul McCandless, a versatile woodwinds player with symphony orchestra experience.

The four future Oregon members contributed much to the Paul Winter Consort, and in turn the experience helped to stimulate their own creativity. When we joined Paul Winter he was playing a collection of styles rather than an amalgamation of styles, Towner recalled in a 1988 interview with Down Beat writer John Diliberto. We were playing everything from Elizabethan music to Brazilian music to adaptations of Baroque music and some adaptations of Bartok. So when I joined Paul, that really triggered some composition from me that was going to accommodate all these really interesting and wonderful combinations of instruments. Towners best-known composition with the Paul Winter Consort was the title tune from the album Icarus, an evocative piece that pointed towards Oregons musical direction.

Towner, Moore, Walcott and McCandless began to develop a body of material and an overall sound during private jam sessions and parties. In the summer of 1970, they recorded an albums worth of compositions at a studio in Los Angeles which failed to earn them a major record label contract. (These recordings would finally be released by Vanguard as Our First Record in 1980). They continued on, making their debut as a live act in 1971. After several false starts, the band settled on the name Oregon, suggested by McCandless in honor of Towner and Moores home state.

Signing with Vanguard Records, Oregon recorded a new batch of material that was released as the LP Music From Another Present Era in 1972. This album displayed the bands essential sound, defined by Towners deft classical guitar, McCandlesss moodily lyrical oboe, Moores subdued but steady basswork and Walcotts ruminating tabla playing. Distant Hills released in 1973 continued in a similar vein, while Winter Light released in 1974 added a Native American influence in such pieces as Witchi-Tai-To. The band veered toward a more definite jazz direction on Together, a collaboration with legendary drummer Elvin Jones that added new rhythmic twists to their music.

By the late 1970s, the group had attracted a devoted audience as a touring act. Describing Oregon in concert, Musician writer Len Lyons termed them a band characterized by a delicate touch, subtle interplay of its

For the Record

Members include Trilok Gurtu (born 1951; member 1985-1990), tabla, percussion; Paul McCandless (born 1947), oboe, bass clarinet, saxophone; Glen Moore (born 1941), bass; Ralph Towner (born 1940), guitar, keyboards; Collin Walcott (born 1945; killed in car accident, November 8, 1984), percussion, sitar, tabla; Mark Walker (joined 1997), percussion.

Formed Oregon in 1970; group signed with Vanguard Records, released debut album Music From Another Present Era, 1972; signed with Elektra Records, released Out of the Woods album, 1978; signed with ECM, released Oregon album, 1983; recorded for a number of small labels, including VeraBra and Intuition, 1990s.

Awards: Down Beat Critics Poll winner for Best Established Combo, 1979; Indie Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Recording, Northwest Passage, 1998.

Addresses: Record company Intuition, Schott Music and Media, P.O. Box 27 01 26, D-50508, Cologne, Germany. Website

instruments, and a presentation not unlike chamber music The musiciansexcept for occational moments of witplay their instruments deliberately, concentrating with the intensity of surgeons around an operating table. Their audience is attentive, patient through the sometimes slowly-evolving pieces, and faithful.

Switching to Elektra Records, Oregon released Out of the Woods in 1978, followed by Roots in the Sky a year later. These albums refined the bands approach further, with Towner increasingly favoring piano over guitar and McCandless choosing to play soprano saxophone more frequently. In 1980, the band members scattered to pursue solo projects for several years, then regrouped and signed a new record contract with the jazz-oriented ECM label. Oregon appeared in 1983 and found the group revitalized, steering away from the darker shadings of their earlier work in favor of brighter, more engaging textures. Synthisizers began to be encorporated into Oregons acoustic sound for the first time during this period.

The 1980s saw the rise of New Age musicians whose multi-cultural influences and ambient soundscapes drew comparisons with Oregons work. However, Moore distanced his group from the New Age tag in Oregons 1988 Down Beat interview: Weve been identified with this movement because of the some of the instruments are similar and because some of our students are out there after just a few years of studying, making records. But weve shunned and shy away from this association because its not very well grounded and doesnt contain, to us, enough of this searching urgency that has characterized every one of our lives. Of looking to perfect the sound, perfect the way of playing in ensemble circumstances.

Crossing, released in 1985, proved to be the last recording by the original quartet. After completing the album, Wolcott was killed in an automobile accident on November 8, 1984. The loss of their friend and collegue devastated Oregons surviving members and almost put an end to the group. After much soul-searching, Towner, Moore and McCandless decided to carry on and recruited Wolcotts close friend Trilok Gurtu to join them. His impressive credentials as a drummer in both jazz and traditional Indian ensembles made him Wolcotts most natural replacement.

After an uneven start on 1987s Ecotopia, Oregon began to regain their stride on 45th Parallel in 1989 and Always, Never, And Forever in 1991, both released on the VeraBra label. Gurtu left the group after the latter album, and Oregon recorded Troika released in 1994 and Beyond Words released in 1995 as a trio. On Northwest Passage, released by the German-based Intuition label in 1997, the band enlisted the aid of percussionists Arto Tuncboyanciyan and Mark Walker. After working on this album, Chicago-born Walker became a full-time Oregon member. His background as a percussionist with Latin and Brazilian ensembles added a fresh perspective to the band.

In 2000, Oregon celebrated its 30th anniversary by releasing Oregon in Moscow, a double CD recorded live with the Moscow Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra. The project served to reaffirm the quartets creative vitality once more. Summing up the groups career in Jazziz, writer Christopher Hoard noted that Oregon never slows with age, never ceases to celebrate their singularity, and never misses a chance to defy commerciality. Their influence on American and international music has proven nothing less than monumental.

Selected discography

Music of Another Present Era, Vanguard, 1972.

Distant Hills, Vanguard, 1973.

Winter Light, Vanguard, 1974.

(With Elvin Jones) Together, Vanguard, 1976.

Friends, Vanguard, 1977.

Out of the Woods, Elektra, 1978.

Violin, Vanguard, 1978.

Roots In The Sky, Elektra, 1979.

Moon and Mind, Vanguard, 1979.

Our First Record, Vanguard, 1980.

In Performance, Elektra, 1980.

Oregon, ECM, 1983.

Crossing, ECM, 1985.

Ecotopia, ECM, 1987.

45th Parallel, VeraBra, 1989.

Always, Never and Forever, VeraBra, 1991.

Troika, VeraBra, 1994.

Beyond Words, Chesky, 1995.

Northwest Passage, Intuition, 1997.

Oregon in Moscow, Intuition, 2000.



Cook, Brian and Brian, Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, LP and Cassette, Penguin Books, 1992.

Kernfeld, Barry, editor, The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Groves Dictionaries of Music, 1988.

Larkin, Colin, editor, The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 1998.


Billboard, March 27, 1976; March 26, 1977.

Down Beat, February 1988; December 1997.

Musician, December 1980.


Oregon Pages, (August 2, 2000).

Additional information was obtained from Oregon publicity materials.

Barry Alfonso

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