Oregon Fast Facts

Don't let a little rain stop you. Mitchell Point, Columbia River Gorge. (Image by Clayton Cotterell)

Whether it’s your first or tenth trip to Oregon, here are some quick tidbits to help you get to know our spectacular state a little better.

Did you know:

  • Oregon has no sales tax.
  • Oregon’s birthday is Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1859.
  • Oregon is the 10th largest state in the union, covering 97,073 square miles.
  • Oregon is bordered by Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California and the Pacific Ocean.

A State of (Natural) Wonder (a.k.a largest, deepest, richest):

  • Crater Lake, at 1,932 feet deep, is the deepest lake in the United States.
  • Hells Canyon is the deepest river-carved gorge in North America. At 7,913 feet, it’s deeper than the Grand Canyon.
  • The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is one of the richest fossil sites in the world. You would need to travel to Pakistan to find a fossil bed that rivals this one.
  • The largest concentration of wintering bald eagles can be found in Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
  • The Malheur Wildlife Refuge is home to the largest freshwater marsh in the U.S.

History and Heritage

  • Oregon has 14 National Historic Districts and four National Historic Trails, including our namesake trail that pioneered western expansion and urged dreamers to “Go West.”
  • The Historic Columbia River Highway is the first scenic highway in the U.S. and is a National Historic Landmark (celebrating its centennial in 2016).
  • Oregon has more than 7,000 bridges, including 53 covered bridges.
  • Nine historic lighthouses and one light ship dot the Oregon Coast.
  • Oregon is home to 10 Native American tribes.

Quirky Tidbits

  • Oregon is pronounced OR-UH-GUN, never OR-EE-GONE.
  • The Oregon hazelnut is the state’s official nut, and Oregon grows 99 percent of the entire U.S. commercial crop.
  • The pear is Oregon’s state fruit, ranking as the top-selling tree fruit crop.
  • There are more than 750 vineyards in Oregon, producing more than 70 different varietals of wine grapes.
  • Oregon has the only Scenic Bikeway program in the nation and a total of 14 Scenic Bikeways throughout the state.
  • Letting an attendant pump your gas is mandatory; you may not pump your own in the state of Oregon (except in rural areas and at night. The “self-serve” rural gas legislation took effect Jan. 1, 2016).
  • The Tater Tot was invented in Oregon by two brothers, Nephi and Golden Grigg, the founders of Ore-Ida.
  • In 1854, a coin toss decided that Portland, Ore. would be named Portland rather than Boston.

Geography

Oregon is a state of contrasts, with snow-dusted mountains, dramatic river canyons, lush valleys, rugged coast, arid plains and fertile fields. In fact, Oregon offers some example of every geographic terrain on the planet within its borders.

  • The highest elevation point is Mt. Hood at 11,239 feet, and the lowest is at sea level.
  • There are more than 6,000 lakes and 112,000 miles of rivers and streams.
  • Oregon contains more than 5,900 registered campsites along with 230 state parks and 13 national forests.
  • Nearly half of Oregon’s total area is forested – close to 30 million acres.
  • There are 16 known hot springs in Oregon.

Oregon Pop Culture

  • “Portlandia.” Put a bird on it.
  • Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood served as the scenic backdrop for the movie, “The Shining.”
  • “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was based and filmed in Salem, Ore., where now stands the Museum of Mental Health.
  • National Lampoon’s “Animal House,” one of the most successful American film comedies of all time, was filmed in the Eugene area in the fall of 1977.
  • “The Goonies” was filmed mostly in Astoria, Ore., with scenic cameo shots from other coastal towns.
  • National TV hit, “Grimm,” plays off the natural scenery in Oregon to produce its picturesque, cinematic appeal.
  • Portland first gained national attention for its music scene in the 1960s, when The Kingsmen and Paul Revere & the Raiders helped establish the city as a Northwest center for frat and garage pop. Today, all sorts of great local bands are making waves here, including M. Ward, The Decemberists, Horse Feathers, Laura Veirs, Portugal. The Man and Blind Pilot.
  • Ken Kesey’s masterful “Sometimes a Great Notion” explores the relationship between Oregon’s landscapes and its psyche.
  • Portland’s artists are varied and inspiring: Gus Van Sant, Matt Groening, Chuck Palahniuk, Beverly Cleary, Stephen Malkmus.

Want more information about Oregon Fast Facts?

If you have additional questions or comments about Oregon Fast Facts, please contact the appropriate member of the Travel Oregon staff listed below.

  1. Allison Keeney
  2. Jaime Eder