Welcome to Oregon.
OMUG provides this introduction to our state (founded February 14, 1859), it’s geography, culture and traditions, for our out-of-state visitors. Don’t miss a few goodies we’ve included on this page — so keep reading, and follow the Oregon trail …
Oregon’s state symbols, icons and “official stuff”:
Animal: Beaver, adopted in 1969. The beaver appears on the reverse of the state flag, and Oregon’s unofficial nickname is The Beaver State, stemming from the early 19th century when fur hats were fashionable and Oregon’s streams were an important source of beaver. The Beaver is also the mascot of Oregon State University in Corvallis.
Beverage: Milk, 1997. The production of milk and the manufacture of dairy products were recognized as major contributors to the economic well-being of Oregon agriculture.
Bird: Western Meadowlark, 1927. Chosen by Oregon’s school children in a poll sponsored by the Oregon Audubon Society, the bird is known for its distinctive and beautiful song.
Colors: Navy blue and gold, 1959. The colors selected for the state flag. Blue was said to represent piety and sincerity while gold denoted honor and loyalty.
State Capitol: The city of Salem, located in the upper third of the Willamette Valley and next to the Willamette River, is the state capitol.
Crustacean: Dungeness crab, 2009. A 4th-grade class of Sunset Primary School in West Linn petitioned this designation. The Dungeness crab is usually the most valuable single-species fishery in Oregon, according to industry groups.
Dance: Square dance, 1977. The pioneer origins of the dance and the characteristic dress reflect Oregon’s heritage; the lively spirit of the dance exemplifies the friendly, free nature and enthusiasm that are a part of the Oregon character.
Father of Oregon: Dr. John McLoughlin, 1957. He came to the Northwest in 1824 as a representative of the Hudson’s Bay Company and is recognized for contributions to the early development of the Oregon Country.
Fish: Chinook salmon, 1961. The largest of the Pacific salmons and the most highly prized for the fresh fish trade.
Flag: Adopted in 1925, it’s the only U.S. state flag to use a different design on each side.
Flower: Oregon grape, 1899. Native to much of the Pacific Coast and found sparsely east of the Cascades, its year-round foliage of pinnated, waxy green leaves resembles holly. The plant bears dainty yellow flowers in early summer and a dark blue berry that ripens late in the fall. The fruit can be used in cooking.
Fossil: Metasequoia, or dawn redwood, 2005. The Metasequoia flourished in the Miocene epoch of 25 to 5 million years ago and left its record embedded in rocks across the Oregon landscape.
Fruit: Pear, 2005. Oregon produces a variety of pears, including Comice, Anjou, Bosc and Bartlett. The pear ranks as the top-selling tree fruit crop in the state and grows particularly well in the Rogue River Valley in southern Oregon and the Hood River Valley near the Columbia River Gorge. The Willamette Valley, on the west side of the Cascade mountain range, is also famous for its strawberries, marionberries (blackberries), and blueberries:
Gemstone: Oregon sunstone, 1987. The Oregon sunstone attracts collectors and miners and has been identified as a boon to tourism and economic development in southeastern Oregon counties.
Hostess: Miss Oregon, 1969. The winner of the annual Miss Oregon Scholarship Program is the official state hostess during her reign.
Insect: Oregon swallowtail, 1979. A true native of the Northwest, the swallowtail is at home in the lower sagebrush canyons of the Columbia River and its tributaries, including the Snake River drainage.
Microbe: Brewer’s yeast, 2013. A key component of the state’s craft beer scene.
Minerals: Oregonite and josephinite, 2013. Designated to promote education through the earth sciences. Oregonite and Josephinite are found only in Oregon in the United States.
Mother of Oregon: Tabitha Moffatt Brown, 1987. She represents the distinctive pioneer heritage and the charitable and compassionate nature of Oregon’s people. At 66, she financed her own wagon for the trip from Missouri to Oregon. The boarding school for orphans that she established later became known as Tualatin Academy and eventually was chartered as Pacific University in Forest Grove.
Motto: “She Flies With Her Own Wings,” 1987. The phrase originated with Judge Jessie Quinn Thornton and was pictured on the territorial seal in Latin: Alis Volat Propriis. The new motto replaces “The Union,” which was adopted in 1957.
Mushroom: Pacific golden chanterelle, 1999. A wild, edible fungi of high culinary value that is unique to the Pacific Northwest. More than 500,000 pounds of the Pacific golden chanterelles are harvested annually in Oregon, representing a large portion of the commercial mushroom business.
Nut: Hazelnut, 1989. Oregon grows nearly all of the U.S. commercial crop. The Oregon hazelnut, unlike wild varieties, grows on single-trunked trees up to 40 feet tall. Adding a unique texture and flavor to recipes and products, hazelnuts are preferred by chefs, bakers, confectioners, food manufacturers and home cooks worldwide.
Rock: Thunder-egg, 1965. Rockhounds throughout Oregon voted. Thunder-eggs range in diameter from less than one inch to over four feet. Nondescript on the outside, they reveal exquisite designs in a wide range of colors when cut and polished. They are found chiefly in Crook, Jefferson, Malheur, Wasco and Wheeler counties.
Seal: Began being used when Oregon became a state in 1859.
Seashell: Oregon hairy triton, 1991. One of the largest shells found in the state, reaching lengths up to five inches. It can be found from Alaska to California and washes up on the Oregon coast at high tide.
Soil: Jory soil, 2011. Distinguished by its brick-red, clayish nature, it has developed on old volcanic rocks through thousands of years of weathering. It is estimated to exist on more than 300,000 acres of western Oregon hillsides and is named after Jory Hill in Marion County.
Song: “Oregon, My Oregon”, 1927. J.A. Buchanan of Astoria and Henry B. Murtagh of Portland wrote the song in 1920. They won a statewide competition sponsored by the Society of Oregon Composers:
Statehood pageant: Champoeg Historical Pageant, 1987. Champoeg State Heritage Area is the birthplace of Oregon, located where the provisional government for the Oregon Territory was first established in 1843.
Team: Portland Trail Blazers of 1990-91, 1991. This edition of the Blazers finished with a franchise-record win total and a league-best record of 63-19. The team lost in the NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Tree: Douglas fir, 1939. Named for David Douglas, a 19th-century Scottish botanist who traveled through Oregon in the 1820s, this tree has great strength, stiffness and moderate weight, making it an invaluable timber product said to be stronger than concrete.
Computer Game*: The Oregon Trail was a text-based strategy video game developed by Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger in 1971 and produced by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) beginning in 1975. It was developed by the three as a computer game to teach school children about the realities of 19th-century pioneer life on the Oregon Trail. In the game, the player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding a party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon City, Oregon via a covered wagon in 1847. The game became even more popular when it was re-born in 1985 with full color graphics on the Apple II.
*(Okay, we, er, uh, fess up — we added this unofficial one. Source: Wikipedia.)
Source: Oregon Blue Book, Oregon Secretary of State
Stay weird, Portland
Enjoy this incredible time-lapse video of Oregon’s largest city, Portland, created by Uncage the Soul for the TEDx PORTLAND conference: