Oregon, The Beaver State

Oregon, The Beaver State

By Sandra Merville Hart

Oregon’s nickname is the Beaver State for the fur trappers who came to the area for beaver fur.

There are differing ideas for where the state’s name originated. An English army officer wanted to go on an expedition to the River Ouragon in 1765. When King George II refused, he tried again 7 years later, spelling it Ourigan. Captain Jonathan Carver published a book that mentioned the River Oregon. Mapmakers used Carver’s spelling for what’s now known as the Columbia River.

Another idea linking Oregon to ooligan—fish grease used by Native Americans.

The early history of Oregon

Robert Gray, an American sea captain, traveled to the Columbia River in 1792, bringing in the fur trade. The Tillamook tribe lived there at that time.

In 1811, John Jacob Astor started a settlement called Astoria—the oldest city west of the Rockies.

White men willing to come to Oregon to farm were given land per the Donation Land Act of 1850. This forced many Native Americans off their land.

Oregon Trail

oregon-264458_960_720The Oregon Trail started in Independence, Missouri, and went all the way to Oregon City, Oregon. Traders and fur traders started this footpath only large enough for a horseback rider around 1811.

In 1836, the path was large enough for wagons to Fort Hall, Idaho. The first wagon train left Independence that year.

Eventually the 2,170-mile path was large enough for wagon trains to travel on the trail to Willamette Valley in what would become the state of Oregon. Miners, farmers, ranchers, and settlers crossed the country on the Oregon Trail from the mid-1830s to the 1860s.

Oregon becomes a state

Oregon became the 33rd state on February 14, 1859.

Crater Lake National Park

crater-lake-1751456_960_720Crater Lake National Park is a picturesque lake—formed by a volcanic eruption—and surrounded by two-thousand-foot high cliffs. At 1,943 feet deep, it is the deepest lake in the United States.

About 533 inches of snow (44 feet) fall every year at Crater Lake. The snow usually melts by August.

Other fun facts about Oregon

Head to Ashland for the annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

A pair of sandals was found in a Fort Rock cave. At 10,000 years old, the sagebrush bark sandals are the oldest in the world!

Watch for sea lions at the sea lions cave near Florence.

The state capital is Salem.

The state bird is the western meadowlark.

The state flower is Oregon grape.



50 States Our America: Time for Kids, Time Inc. Books, 2017.

Balkan, Gabrielle. The 50 States, Wide Eyed Editions, 2015.

Cheney, Lynne. Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006.

Davis, Kenneth C. Don’t Know Much About The 50 States, HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.

Fast Facts About the 50 States. Children’s Press, 2010.

Keenan, Sheila. Greetings from the 50 States, Scholastic Inc., 2008.

“Oregon Trail,” Wikipedia, 2019/01/12  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Trail.


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