Oregon State Overview

By | October 5, 2022

In the northwest of the United States of America lies the federal state of Oregon, which, with an area of 255,026 km², is the ninth largest state in the USA. It is bordered by the states of Washington, California, Nevada and Idaho. Its western coast is washed by the waters of the Pacific Ocean. The origin of the name Oregon is not yet clear to historians. Some believe it is the French word “ouragan” meaning storm. Others, on the other hand, hold the theory that the name of the state came from the Spanish word “orejon”, which could be translated as “big ear”. Oregon has been a part of the USA since February 14, 1859, when it joined as the 33rd state.

The surface of Oregon is mainly mountainous, which is why many great ski resorts have been built here. Two mountain systems stretch from north to south – the Coastal and Cascade Mountains. The highest mountain is Mount Hood measuring 3428 meters above sea level. Between the mountains lies the fertile Willamette Valley and the arid Great Basin to the southeast. Two large rivers, the Columbia and its tributary the Snake, also flow through Oregon. Bonneville Dam was built on the Columbia River in 1943. Crater Lake National Park is a major tourist attraction.

According to TRACKAAH, Oregon has a population of around 3.5 million, the vast majority of whom live in large urban agglomerations. The population density is 13.76 people per square kilometer. The southeast of the country is almost deserted and desolate. Approximately 80% of the population is Caucasian, 10% Hispanic and over 3% Asian. The rest is represented by the black population and half-breeds. There are also many immigrants from Europe, especially from Germany. Over 75% of the people are Christian, Roman Catholics predominate, Protestants followed by Mormons. Almost 24% of the population has no religious affiliation.

The main branch of the Oregon economy is the mining industry, especially the mining of non-ferrous and precious metal ores. Also the woodworking, food, textile and shipbuilding industries. In agriculture, the cultivation of cereals, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, cattle breeding, fishing and crab hunting play an important role.

According to COUNTRYAAH, the capital of Oregon is Salem, with a population of 140,000, whose prominent landmark is the Capitol building. However, the largest city in the state is Portland, where more than half a million people live today. Portland was founded in 1851 and we can find many interesting monuments in it. Other cities worth visiting in Oregon are Eugene, Gresham, Hillsboro, Medford, Springfield, Bend, and Corvallis.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument covers an area of 5,700 hectares in eastern Oregon. It is situated in the watershed of the John Day River. This protected area is unique for its well-preserved and remarkably complete record of plant and animal fossils.

There are fossil remains more than 40 million years old, which belong to the period known as the Cenozoic Era, or the “Age of Mammals and Flowering Plants”. The National Monument is divided into three parts: Painted Hills – named for the interesting color layering, Mitchell with Sheep Rock Cave in the northwest and Clarno, which is 32 km west of the Fossil Beds.

The Blue Basin is of volcanic origin, but the soil here has gradually turned into clay over the ages of erosion. The numerous minerals found here give it a blue tinge. The monument is open to the public, but scientific research and analyzes of fossil records are still ongoing here. Fossils are found over a large area, so you never know where you’ll come across one. Many are already significantly disturbed by erosion, so paleontologists are trying to find most of them as quickly as possible. It is a federal crime to collect any fragments or remains of fossils as a so-called memorial.

The surrounding rocks also hide many secrets, they contain evidence of prehistoric settlement as well as geological processes that radically changed the local landscape over millions of years. Big changes have occurred not only in the landscape, but also in the climate, and above all, there are now plants and animals that did not inhabit this area in the past.

In 1861, a fossilized rhinoceros was discovered here during a military expedition led by Thomas Condon. Although paleontology was still an unknown science at the time, Condon considered this discovery a scientific treasure that must be documented. By the end of the 19th century, several hundred specimens had been recovered from the John Day Basin by scientists from Yale, Princetown, and the Smithsonian Institution. These have been classified and described in the professional literature. John C. Merriam, who in 1899 began to put the fossils into a chronological, geological and paleontological set, had the greatest credit for the exploration of this area. The area received the status of a national monument in 1974, which came into effect a year later.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument