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This is the master project for Oregon and its history.

State of Oregon

  • Nickname(s): Beaver State
  • Motto(s): Alis volat propriis (Latin: She flies with her own wings)
  • State song(s): "Oregon, My Oregon"
  • Demonym: Oregonian
  • Capital: Salem
  • Largest city: Portland

Please do not add profiles to the State of Oregon project. Add them to the appropriate sub-project.

Brief History

Humans have inhabited the area that is now Oregon for at least 15,000 years. In recorded history, mentions of the land date to as early as the 16th century. During the 18th and 19th centuries, European powers – and later the United States – quarreled over possession of the region until 1846, when the U.S. and Great Britain finalized division of the region.

The population of the Oregon Territory consisted mainly of Native Americans. The Europeans first explored the territory from the sea. The region became known for its fur-trade and the British Hudson’s Bay Company dominated the market. Since the fur-trade that developed in the region was extremely lucrative, many countries wanted to claim the land for themselves. The territorial claims often caused conflicts between the European colonists and the United States.

In the late 1830s, trappers began to settle down on the land and more and more settlers and missionaries started to arrive to the territory. There was no organized government in those parts at the time. A group of settlers in the Willamette Valley discussed organizing a government in the region on their regular meetings and they created the Provisional Government of Oregon in 1841. In 1846 the Oregon Treaty was signed between the US and Britain to settle the boundary dispute. The British gained the land north of the 49th parallel, including the Vancouver Island and the United States received the territory south of the parallel.

In what was dubbed "The Great Migration of 1843" or the "Wagon Train of 1843", an estimated 700 to 1,000 emigrants left for Oregon. As the emigrant travel on the trail declined in later years and after livestock ranches were established at many places along the trail large herds of animals often were driven along part of the trail to get to and from markets. The first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, providing faster, safer, and usually cheaper travel east and west (the journey took seven days and cost as little as $65 or $1189.39 in 2016 dollars). Some emigrants continued to use the trail well into the 1890s, and modern highways and railroads eventually paralleled large portions of the trail, including U.S. Highway 26, Interstate 84 in Oregon and Idaho.

The Territory of Oregon existed from August 1848 until February 1859. That period ended when Oregon became an American State on February 14, 1859. The Territory of Oregon encompassed the segments of present-day Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming and Montana as well as parts of British Columbia which is now a Canadian province. The Territory’s first capitol was Oregon City. The next capital was Salem and Corvallis became the capital city after Salem. When Oregon became a US state, the seat of government was transferred back to Salem again.

As of 2015, Oregon is home to over 4 million residents.

sources: Outline of Oregon, Oregon Blue Book, Oregon Historical Society, "Oregon Territory", "Oregon History 101", Oregon Trail, Oregon Pioneer History


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