Happy birthday, Oregon! Here are 18 facts you may not know about the Beaver State.


Oregon was founded on Feb. 14, 1859. It was the 33rd state admitted into the union, and in 1860 was home to over 54,000 residents. Today, around 4 million people call Oregon home. Only 10 Oregonians call the town of Greenhorn home.


Hey! Thanks for talking about Oregon. Just remember, it’s pronounced OR-uh-gun. Not OR-ee-gone. Extra credit, that river dividing Oregon’s largest cities is pronounced will-AM-it and the street next to Burnside Street in Portland is pronounced COOCH (rhymes with mooch).


Oregon is home to Sagebrush sandals that are 10,000 years old. That’s older than the pyramids, the first-known wheel and written language. The archaeologist who uncovered them, Luther Cressman, was the former husband of famed sociologist Margret Mead.

Learn more about Oregon’s Father of Archaeology.

Luther Cressman, Quest for First People


Astoria, Oregon, is the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. It celebrated its bicentennial in 2011. It was also the location for the filming of The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop.


Thomas Jefferson hoped Astoria could one day be the seed of a separate West Coast democracy. He and industrialist Jacob Astor set forth an ambitious plan to make it a global trading hub.

Adventure writer Peter Stark wrote a book about the history of Astoria. OPB’s Think Out Loud invited him on the show to talk about it.


When enacted in 1859, Oregon was the only state in the union to have an exclusion clause prohibiting African Americans from living or owning property here. The law was removed from the state constitution in 1926. The ripples of the state’s racist history are still felt today, particularly in Oregon’s largest city.

Oregon Experience’s Lift Ev’ry Voice explores Portland’s African American history with a focus on the turbulent 1960s, ’70s and early ’80s.

Portland Civil Rights: Lift Ev’ry Voice


Oregon women had the right to vote eight years before it was the national law. Oregon Experience’s The Suffragists looks at the the state’s suffrage movement at the turn of the century.

They came from different backgrounds, and often had different agendas. But the diversity of the movement allowed more women to become engaged in their own communities. Their experiences empowered them as they gained valuable experience in leadership, politics and civic involvement.

The Suffragists


Darcelle hosts the longest running drag-show on the West Coast. Darcelle XV Showplace in downtown Portland has been entertaining crowds since 1967.


With a maximum depth of 1,949 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States. It’s also the state’s only national park.

Oregon Field Guide tagged along with recreational divers who jumped into the collapsed volcano to see mysterious moss growing around Wizard Island.

Diving Crater Lake

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Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America.

11 & 12

Portland has both the largest independent new and used bookstore (Powell’s City of Books) and smallest city park (Mill Ends Park) in the world.

In 2013, someone stole the only tree from the park. It was replaced a few days later with a Douglas Fir sapling, at the steep price tag of $3.25.


Courtney Love met Kurt Cobain Jan. 12, 1990 at the legendary Portland underground club The Satyricon. The two wrestled on the floor and Cobain gave Love a sticker of Chim Chim from Speed Racer.

Here’s a muddy recording of Nirvana’s set that night:


Oregon had the only state-sponsored rock festival in United States history, Vortex I. It was an elaborate ploy to lure young people away from Portland during a planned visit by President Richard Nixon.

Vortex I


Springfield, Oregon, is the inspiration for the fictitious Springfield in animated series The Simpsons. This is not up for debate, Massachusetts, Illinois, etc.


McMinnville, Oregon, is the resting place of the Spruce Goose, the largest airplane ever constructed. It is made entirely of wood, designed by Howard Hughes and only flew once.


Lebanon, Oregon, is home of the world’s largest strawberry shortcake. The Oregon town first baked the cake at the Lebanon Strawberry Festival in 1931. They baked one for the 1986 World’s Fair in Vancouver, B.C., and crushed Garden Grove, California, in a “Battle of the Shortcakes” in 1975.


If all that cake made you thirsty, you’ll be happy to know Oregon’s state beverage is milk.

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