Oregon is the only state that celebrates its birthday on Valentine’s Day (February 14th!). Likewise, its state’s flag is the only one in the country that is two-sided: the front features the state seal and the opposite side features a gold figure of a beaver, the state animal.
Can you find Oregon on a US map? It borders four northwest states: Washington to the north, California and Nevada to the south, and Idaho to the east. To its west, you’ll find the world’s largest and deepest ocean: the Pacific Ocean.
What really happened…
- Humans have inhabited the area that is now Oregon for 15,000 years. However, in the 1500s, the first European to see the state’s coastline was an explorer named Sir Francis Drake. He never left his ship or set foot on the land.
- In 1803, the US purchased a large region of land from France called the Louisiana Purchase. At the time, the president of the United States was Thomas Jefferson. He sent explorers Lewis and Clark to map out the new territory. They traveled beyond the borders of the new purchase, all the way to Oregon, which is off the Pacific Ocean. They stayed in the area during the winter months. Over the next several years, more explorers from the United States and Great Britain came to this state. Both countries wanted to own the region. In 1818, they agreed to share the land.
- Starting in the 1840s, Americans who lived in the eastern part of the US began to travel west. Over the next 20 years, hundreds of thousands of people moved west, many of them settling in Oregon. There were so many Americans in the region that Great Britain gave up the land.
- It was first known as the Oregon Territory. It was so large that it included the future states of Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and part of Montana. But as the population grew, it broke off from the other regions in the territory and, on February 14, 1859, was admitted into the Union as the 33rd state.
Stuff you should know…
- At almost 2,000 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the US and among the top 10 deepest lakes in the world. It was formed more than 6,500 years ago within the remains of an ancient volcano.
- Oregon is home to at least 16 Native American tribes who speak more than nine different languages.
- Portland’s name was decided with a coin toss. Had the coin landed on the other side, the city would have been named Boston.
Crazy, funny, or just plain weird…
- Boo! Oregon has more ghost towns than any other state. In fact, more than 80 ghost towns are listed on the national register.
- The state has one city named Sisters and another called Brothers.
- Eastern Oregon is home to the biggest mushroom in the world. The estimated 2,400 year-old fungus spread through the roots of trees in Malheur National Forest and now covers 2,200 acres, making it the largest living organism ever found!
Tell me more…
- In the summer, the sand along the Oregon coast seems to glow. Tiny little forms of marine plankton called dinoflagellates wash ashore. They’re bioluminescent, which means their bodies glow or light up.
- Portland is a bike-friendly city. No one is exactly sure but many believe it has more bicyclists than any other city in this country.
Is there a unique fact about Oregon that you’d like to share with us? If you’re willing to, email us your fun fact at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll feature it on our social profiles along with the state you live in, your name & your age!