Oregon: Always Things to See and Do
If you like the outdoors, Oregon is an incredible state for all sorts of recreational activities including skiing, hiking, boating, fishing, hunting, backpacking, biking, sea kayaking, or just taking a walk. You will always have somewhere to go and something to do. It may be the coast, the mountains, the desert, the city, a winery, a brewery, a rose garden, or browsing at Powell’s Books. Here are some links to help you learn more about Oregon and explore it further.
- Oregon Historical Society located in the heart of Portland’s Cultural District offers Oregon’s rich multicultural history through museum exhibitions, research collections, and publications.
- Oregon Shakespeare Festival is located in Ashland, Oregon. It is a nonprofit theater established in 1935 and has an annual attendance of more than 340,000. It presents eleven plays in repertory from mid-February through October on its three stages.
Especially for Children
- High Desert Museum Located south of Bend (central Oregon) on highway 97, the High Desert Museum has eye-catching appeal. You will find pallid bats, collared lizards, a barn owl, playful river otters, birds of prey, plus many other desert animals. You can also view eight dioramas representing a century of overland migration across the American West.
- Oregon Coast Aquarium was the home where Keiko, the killer whale or orca celebrated in “Free Willy,” recovered before being moved to Iceland and subsequently to Norway where he died.
- Oregon Museum of Science and Industry featuring Omnimax Theatre.
- Oregon Zoo has about 1,029 specimens representing 200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. Of these, 21 are from endangered species and 33, from threatened species. Don’t miss it! Light Rail Service (MAX) stops 200 feet from the Zoo entrance.
Travel in Oregon
- Oregon Directory of Bed and Breakfasts, Country Inns, and Small Hotels
- Oregon Worldwide Travel Tourism and visitor guide – they cover 20 plus states and major cities.
- The Edge of Oregon highlights curious, interesting, and unusual places found in the State of Oregon. You will enjoy it.
- Travel Oregon is the official Web site of the Oregon Tourism Commission. Great slideshow of the major regions: The Coast, Portland, Mt. Hood and The Gorge, Willamette Valley, Southern Oregon, Central Oregon, and Eastern Oregon.
Recreation and Play
- Oregon Ski/Snow Links Links for all the ski areas, resorts, and snow play.
- Oregon Wine Advisory Board Oregon is home to 47 wineries. Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are the two wines that have made Oregon an internationally recognized wine growing area.
- Pacific Crest Trail The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is the jewel in the crown of America’s scenic trails, spanning 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada through three western states (Washing, Oregon, and California). It reveals the beauty of the desert, unfolds the glaciated expanses of the Sierra Nevada, and provides commanding vistas of volcanic peaks and glaciers in the Cascade Range. The trail also passes through historic mining sites and evidence of man’s endless quest for natural resources.
- Team Oregon Devoted to runners and walkers of all ages, with coaching, publications, rehabilitation, and forum pages.
- Western Fly Fishing One of the webmaster’s favorite site. Covers fishing in Oregon and Washington.
Oregon Events and Fairs
- Discover Oregon Your trail guide to 50 plus sites and pages about Oregon.
- Oregon Climate Service (OCS) is the official state archive agency for Oregon weather and climate data. OCS is affiliated with the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciencesat Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
- Oregon Online is the table of contents and index to all the Oregon state government Web sites and services. .
- Oregon Trail Web site is brought to you by Mike Trinklein and Steve Boettcher, creators of The Oregon Trail, the award-winning documentary film that aired nationally on PBS stations.
- Oregon Trail Interpretive Centers Links to all the interpretive center sites on the Oregon Trail.
- The Oregon Plan represents an unprecedented undertaking on the part of the State of Oregon to restore our state’s salmon and trout resources. The goal is to restore populations and fisheries to productive and sustainable levels that will provide substantial environmental, cultural, and economic benefits.
- Atlas of Oregon – 2nd Edition The atlas contains information on Oregon history, economy, geography, geology, demographics, industry, and natural resources, among other topics. Its 320 pages, almost all in full color, feature more than 1,000 maps and diagrams.
- Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell by Kristiana Gregory. Reconvenes the Dear America series in 1847, as Hattie, her parents, and her two younger brothers begin the long trek. Considered a children book but good reading for all ages (some of us adults have read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder and Harry Potter books).
- Best Places Destinations: Oregon Coast by Stephanie Irving (Editor). From Astoria to the California border, this opinionated guide rates the finest restaurants, accommodations, and shopping. As with all the Best Places guides, you’ll find suggestions you can trust–whether it’s a beach walk or…
- Driving Guide to Scenic Oregon This guide will motivate you to pack the car and strike out on your journey. You can download the guide or request a free printed copy.
- Foder’s Oregon Crater Lake, Mount Hood, the Wine Country, the Columbia Gorge, and the John Day Fossil Beds, plus hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, golf, and whale watching.
- Frommer’s Oregon Inviting places to stay and dine in all price ranges. The best of the outdoors: flyfishing, mountain biking, windsurfing, nature hikes, coastal drives, and more. What to see and do, from Willamette Valley wineries to Crater Lake National Park.
- Portland Best Places 4th Edition by Kim Carlson. The new edition of this popular guide has been updated by a team of Portland critics to review the very best of the city’s attractions, including more than 150 restaurants. Expert opinions, inside information, and timely
- Out and About Portland With Kids: The Ultimate Family Guide for Fun and Learning by Elizabeth Hartzell Desimone. One reviewer said “this book has been a godsend. It does a wonderful job of covering hundreds of different things to do in Portland and surrounding areas (the coast, the mountains) with kids.
- Bonnie Henderson’s Oregon Hiking Books Bonnie Henderson is author of two popular hiking guidebooks from Mountaineers Books: Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon, now in its third edition, and Day Hiking: Oregon Coast, the second edition of which was released in 2015.
Matt Love’s Book Recommendations
Matt Love’s Beaver State Trilogy includes these three books: “Grasping Wastrels vs. Beaches Forever Inc.: Covering the Fights for the Soul of the Oregon Coast”, “The Far Out Story of Vortex I”, and “Red, Hot and Rollin,” which was published in the Spring of 2007. Matt is also the author of “Let it Pour: An Unconventional Drinking Guide to the North Oregon Coast.”
Matt wrote a column in The Oregonian. His purpose in writing the article, “I offer a list of books that I believe can provide any newcomer to Oregon with a basic political understanding.” Matt lives on the Oregon Coast.
These books can be purchased at Powell’s City of Books in Portland.
The First Oregonians edited by Carolyn Buan and Richard Lewis (1991)
Astute awareness of any place in the Americas begins with what happened to the indigenous people of that place. “The First Oregonians,” an eclectic collection of essays published by the Oregon Council for the Humanities, is the best overview I have read. It includes wonderful photos and a fascinating digression into Oregon tribal languages.
Death of Celilo Falls by Katrine Barber (2005)
In 1957, an engineer at The Dalles Dam on the Columbia River gave the “down gates” command. Less than five hours later, Celilo Falls was dead, and so, ultimately, was the 10,000-year-old spiritual and economic tradition of thousands of Native Americans who gathered there seasonally to trade and fish for salmon. I am not alone in casting the drowning of Celilo Falls as the greatest act of cultural genocide in Pacific Northwest history. In her superb book, Barber documents the many political and cultural machinations that made construction of the dam almost inevitable. The 50th anniversary of the event takes place in March. How that commemoration plays out will make for one of the more compelling Oregon stories of 2007.
Landscapes of Promise: The Oregon Story 1800-1940 (1997) and Landscapes of Conflict: The Oregon Story 1940-2000 (2004) by William G. Robbins
Robbins’ innovative two-volume history explores the shifting relationships that Oregon’s human occupants have had with the state’s landscapes. Never dull, often magisterial, this companion set can lay claim to the title of the most provocatively thematic work ever written about Oregon history.
The Lawgiver An essay by Lincoln Steffens included in This Land Around Us: A Treasury of Pacific Northwest Writing (1969)
Muckraking journalist Steffens profiled Oregon politician William U’Ren at the dawn of the 20th century and produced a masterpiece that glorified the father of the Oregon System, the direct democracy measures of the initiative, referendum and recall. U’Ren successfully championed them all, putting Oregon on the map for progressive reform. In the profile, U’Ren shouts, in response to Steffens asking how hard he would fight to protect the public’s interest, “I would go to hell for the people of Oregon!” Shouldn’t that line be worked into the oath of office for governor?
McNary of Oregon: A Political Biography by Steve Neal (1985) and Wayne Morse: A Political Biography by Mason Drukman (1997)
Once upon a time in Oregon, two long-serving Oregon U.S. senators, Charles McNary (R) and Wayne Morse (D), put country, the Constitution, protecting natural resources, working-class people and the public interest above partisanship, expediency, extremism and presidential agenda. “Halfway between the extremes is usually the point of wisdom,” McNary said. No, these two books are not fiction. They are quality biographies of two former giants in Oregon politics who couldn’t win a primary today.
Fire at Eden’s Gate: Tom McCall and the Oregon Story by Brent Walth (1994)
In my mind, this biography of McCall — the two-term governor from 1967-74 who fought for and signed the legislation that turned this state into one of the coolest places in North America — stands as the most important Oregon history book to appear in the last 50 years. It certainly is the most cited. If a reader has time for only one book on this list, this is the one. (Walth is a reporter for The Oregonian.)
The Far Out Story of Vortex I by Matt Love (2004)
It may smack of shameless self-promotion to recommend one’s own book, but my effort documenting the notorious 1970 rock festival held near Estacada, still the only state-sponsored event of its kind in American history, offers the most revealing glimpse I’ve come across into the unconventional and unprecedented initiatives that characterized the McCall Era. McCall backed Vortex I hoping to avoid a potential violent clash in downtown Portland between the American Legionnaires and opponents of the Vietnam War. A lot of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll later at the festival, peace prevailed.
A Hundred Little Hitlers by Elinor Langer (2003)
Any honest accounting of Oregon history must confront the state’s racist past — some of it not that long ago. Langer’s book, the most brilliantly conceived and executed work of nonfiction I’ve read in recent memory, details the 1988 murder of an Ethiopian man in Portland by racist Skinheads and the civil trial that unfolded in the murder’s aftermath. Sometimes we in Oregon like to think our state is above racist barbarity. It is not. Hate has flared here before with tragic consequences, and it will again.
Oregon Geographic Names by Lewis A. McArthur and Lewis L. McArthur (2003)
It behooves every resident of this state to own this classic reference work to learn the origins of the names of Oregon places where we live, work and play. Let’s say someone lived near Whiskey Creek in Tillamook County. Shouldn’t that person know the creek’s name originated when several wives became highly upset because their husbands sat at water’s edge drinking from a keg of whiskey and wouldn’t help with camp chores? And then the women dumped the liquor in the creek! Yes, that person should.
John McLoughlin, Father of Oregon
John McLoughlin was born in the province of Quebec in 1784 of an Irish Catholic father and a Scotch Presbyterian mother. John was apprenticed to a doctor at the age of 14 and was licensed to practice medicine at 18. A famous uncle, Simon Fraser, obtained an appointment for him as medical officer for the North West Company, fierce competitor in the fur trade of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
About 1811 he married the French-Indian widow of Alexander McKay, who had been a member of the Astor party that started an American fur trading post called Astoria in 1811.
McLoughlin proved to be as good a businessman as a medic and soon became a partner in the North West Company. In 1821 North West merged with Hudson’s Bay, with the latter name surviving. Three years later, at the age of 40, McLoughlin was placed in command of the Pacific Northwest where he selected the site of Fort Vancouver.
One of his greatest assets was his influence over the Indians who called him “White Eagle,” for his prematurely white hair, and who held in awesome respect.
He quickly built fort Vancouver into a profitable industrial center as well as a fur trading post.
But when American settlers arrived in the Oregon Country, in the 1830’s and 1840’s McLoughlin made his fatal mistake. He advanced them credit and sold them provisions that permitted them to survive and establish an American foothold in the region. His North American boss, Sir George Simpson, and other Hudson’s Bay officials criticized him for his soft-headedness, to which McLoughlin replied in a famous letter:
But what else could I do as a man having a spark of humanity in my nature? I did not invite the Americans to come. To be frank, I greatly regretted their coming, but they did come, covered with the dust of travel, worn out by fatigue, hardships and dangers incident to a very long and perilous journey. The Bible tells me that if my enemy is hungry, I must feed him, if naked, I must clothe him, but these destitute men and helpless women and children were not my enemies, and I am sure that God does not want me to do more for my enemies than these.
McLoughlin staked out a land claim at the falls of the Willamette in 1830 pending the settlement of the dispute over whether the U.S. or Britain was to have jurisdiction over the Oregon Country. In 1842 when Methodist missionaries tried to build a mission on his claim, he laid out and named the townsite of Oregon City and built a flour mill.
McLoughlin’s relations with his employers continued to deteriorate and in 1846 he was demoted. He resigned and moved to Oregon City, build a lumber mill and fine home that today is a National Historic Site and personal museum. When Oregon became a territory of the U.S. in 1848 he swore allegiance to the United States and settled down to become a respected American citizen.
But this was not to be. The fact that he was once a British subject and an ardent Catholic, combined with his affluence, alienated many of the American settlers.
Meanwhile, the “Honorable Company” docked him for the bad debts he had incurred among the American emigrants, which dissipated McLoughlin’s personal fortune. He tried to collect some of these debts himself, but only made more enemies in doing so.
The last straw was the Oregon Donation Land Act of 1850 which contained a technicality that prevented the “good doctor” from owning land in the new American territory. This was the result of pressure by McLoughlin’s enemies on the territorial delegate to Congress, one Samuel R. Thurston, a well known anglophobe.
Finally, in 1857, the man who had ruled an empire two and a half times the size of Texas, died broken and bitter, at age 73. Five years later, in an act of penitence, the legislature of the new State of Oregon restored his land to his heirs; 100 years later the legislature at long last officially proclaimed him “Father of Oregon.”