Oregon Almanac: Dance to Hot Springs

Dance, State

Square dancing
Square dancing, reflecting Oregon's pioneer heritage and friendly character, was declared the official state dance in 1977.
In 1977, the Legislature declared the Square Dance to be Oregon’s state dance. The dance is a combination of steps and figures danced with four couples grouped in a square. The pioneer origins of the dance and the characteristic dress are deemed to reflect Oregon’s heritage. The lively spirit of the dance exemplifies the friendly, free nature and enthusiasm that are a part of the Oregon character.


36,640 (2017) 


13,873 (2017)

Electoral Votes for President


Fair, Oregon State: Early History

1858: The State Fair was unofficially started by a group of farmers known as the Oregon Fruitgrowers Association.
1861: The first official Oregon State Fair was held along the Clackamas River in the Gladstone/Oregon City area.
Doctor John McLoughlin
Father of Oregon, Dr. John McLoughlin
1862: The second State Fair took place in Salem, at the same location where it is held today.
1871: Women’s suffrage activists Susan B. Anthony and Abigail S. Duniway camped at the State Fairgrounds during an extended visit to Oregon.

Father of Oregon

The 1957 Legislature bestowed upon Dr. John McLoughlin the honorary title of “Father of Oregon” in recognition of his great contributions to the early development of the Oregon Country. Dr. McLoughlin came to the Northwest region in 1824 as a representative of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Fish, State

The Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tsha­wytscha), also known as the spring, king or tyee salmon, is the largest of the Pacific salmons and the most highly prized for the fresh fish trade. Declared the Oregon state fish by the 1961 Legislature, the Chinook Salmon is found from southern California to the Canadian Arctic.

State flag
The Oregon state flag. Enlarge | Reverse

Flag, State

The state flag, adopted in 1925, is blue with gold lettering and symbols. Blue and gold are the state colors. On the flag’s face the legend “STATE OF OREGON” is written above a shield, which is surrounded by 33 stars. Below the shield, which is part of the state seal, is written “1859,” the year of Oregon’s admission to The Union as the 33rd state. The flag’s reverse side depicts a beaver. Oregon has the distinction of being the only state in The Union whose flag has different patterns on each side. The utility flag has a plain border, and the dress or parade flag has gold fringe.

Flower, State

The Legislature designated the Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) as the state flower by resolution in 1899. A low-growing plant, the Oregon Grape is native to much of the Pacific Coast and is found sparsely east of the Cascades. Its year-round foliage of pinnated, waxy green leaves resembles holly. The plant bears clusters of small yellow flowers in early summer and dark blue berries that ripen in the fall. The fruit can be used in cooking.
Metasequoia tree fossil
Metasequoia, the state fossil. (Image courtesy John Day Fossil Beds National Monument)

Fossil, State

The Legislature designated the Metasequoia, or Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), as the state fossil by resolution in 2005. The Metasequoia flourished in the Miocene Epoch of 25 to 5 million years ago and left its record embedded in rocks across Oregon’s landscape. While long extinct in Oregon, paleontologists discovered living 100-foot Metasequoia trees in a remote area of China in the 1940s and brought specimens back to the United States for propagation to ensure  Metasequoia trees can be found today. 

Fruit, State

The Legislature designated the pear (Pyrus communis) as the state fruit by resolution in 2005. Oregon produces a variety of pears, including Comice, Anjou, Bosc and Bartlett. The pear ranks as the top-selling tree fruit crop in the state and grows particularly well in the Rogue River Valley and in the area between the Columbia River and Mt. Hood.

Gemstone, State

The 1987 Legislature designated the Oregon Sunstone as the state gemstone. Uncommon in its composition, clarity and colors, it is a large, brightly colored transparent gem in the feldspar family. The Oregon Sunstone attracts collectors and miners and has been identified as a boon to tourism and economic development in southeastern Oregon counties.
Oregon sunstone
Oregon Sunstone

Geographic Center

The geographic center of Oregon lies in Crook County, 25 miles south-southeast of Prineville.

Gorge, Deepest

Hells Canyon, Wallowa County: Up to 7,913' in depth along the Snake River, it is the deepest gorge in North America.

Highways, Special Designation

Historic Columbia River Highway: The 74-mile stretch of the Columbia River Highway from Troutdale to The Dalles was built from 1913 to 1922. For many years, it was designated U.S. 30. Beginning in the 1950s, Interstate 84 replaced the historic highway as the main route through the Columbia Gorge. The historic highway became a National Scenic Byway All-American Road in 1999. In 2000, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior designated it a National Historic Landmark, which recognized the highway as a significant national heritage resource. The route became the first highway in the country to be given either of these national designations.
Oregon 99: Originally known as the Pacific Highway, Oregon 99 runs from the Oregon/California border north to Junction City, where it splits into Oregon 99E and Oregon 99W. The Pacific Highway, once designated as U.S. 99, U.S. 99E and U.S. 99W, was the main north–south highway in Oregon from the 1920s until Interstate 5 replaced it in 1964.
Oregon Coast Highway
The Oregon Coast Highway looking north toward Cape San Sebastian in circa 1940. (Oregon State Archives, Highway Division photo no. 370)
Take a 1940 Oregon Coast Tour and a 1940 Journey Across Oregon with vintage text and photos. (via Oregon State Archives Web exhibits)
US 101: Completed in the 1930s, the Oregon Coast Highway (U.S. 101) runs the length of Oregon’s Pacific Coast from Astoria on the Columbia River to the Oregon/California border. The highway was designated an Oregon Scenic Byway in 1991 and a National Scenic Byway All-American Road in 2002.
Veterans Memorial Highways: Veterans Memorial Highways: 479,600 Oregon veterans have served our nation during five major wars—WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf/Afghanistan/ Iraq. Over 6,000 lost their lives and 15,000 were wounded during those wars. Five border-to-border highways were designated by the Legislature and three governors to honor these veterans:

WWI Veterans Memorial Highway: U.S. 395,
WWII Veterans Historic Highway: U.S. 97,
Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway: Interstate 5,
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway: Interstate 84, and
Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans Memorial Highway: U.S. 101.
Interstate 5 was also designated a Purple Heart Trail.

Hot Springs

Notable hot springs: Alvord, Austin, Bagby, Belknap, Bigelow, Blue Mountain, Breitenbush, Couger (Terwilliger), Crane, East Lake, Echo Rock, Hart Mountain (Antelope), Hot Lake, Hunter’s, Juntura, Kah-Nee-Ta, Kropp, Lehman, Luce, McCredie, Olene Gap, Paulina Lake, Snively, Summer Lake, Umpqua, Wall Creek, Weberg and  Whitehorse