Oregon Description

captain james cook People arriving over the Bering Strait from Mongolia about 13,000 years ago first populated the Pacific Northwest. Spanish and British sailors are believed to have sighted the Oregon coast as early as the 1500s. It is estimated that there were 125 distinct Northwestern tribes in the area at that time.

In the year 1775 Spanish Captain Don Bruno de Heceta sailed from Mexico all the way to the Canadian border, subsequently claiming all of the lands he visited for Spain. In 1790 Spain opened this huge territory to trappers and explorers of other nations, mainly Great Britain and the United States. British Captain James Cook charted some of the coastline in 1778 while seeking a water route (the Northwest Passage) that would connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

American Captain John Gray discovered the mouth of the Columbia River in 1792 and named it after his ship. He established a trade in sea otter pelts. President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark overland to seek the Northwest Passage, and although they found the passage did not exist, they laid claim to the territory. Their expedition, along with Captain Gray's explorations, gave the United States a large stake in the land.

john jacob astor Britain's Hudson's Bay Colony established the first regional economy based on fur trading. The first capital of the Oregon Territory was built in Oregon City, at the northern end of the Willamette Valley. John Jacob Astor founded his fur depot in Astoria in 1811. The European fashion of beaver hats fueled the trapping and trading activities in Oregon and nearly decimated the population of beavers.

In 1819 Spain ceded their earlier claims on this land to the United States, although the British disputed it and the area existed for several decades under contentious joint control.

The Oregon Trail: A New Frontier

With the opening of the Oregon Trail in 1841, pioneers settled in the fertile Willamette Valley. Gold discoveries in the high country and along the coast led to further settlement. However, these provoked tragic wars with the Native Americans, which concluded with the Indians surrendering of all their lands.

Settlers met in 1843 to address the menace of wild animals. These "Wolf Meetings" led to a drafting of a constitution and the formation of Oregon's first government, which included both American and British participation.

Oregon Photographs


Lupine Flowers and Rugged Coastline along Southern Oregon, USA

Lupine flowers along the southern Oregon coast...
by Adam Jones
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Architecture of Portland, Oregon, USA

Architecture of Portland...
by William Sutton
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Oregon Cities, Counties & Area Codes

City County Area Code
Baker City Baker 541
Corvallis Benton 541
Portland Clackamas 503
Astoria Clatsop 503
Saint Helens Columbia 503
Coos Bay Coos 541
Prineville Crook 541
Brookings Curry 541
Bend Deschutes 541
Roseburg Douglas 541
Condon Gilliam 541
John Day Grant 541
Burns Harney 541
Hood River Hood River 541
Medford Jackson 541
Madras Jefferson 541
Grants Pass Josephine 541
Klamath Falls Klamath 541
Lakeview Lake 541
Eugene Lane 541
Newport Lincoln 541
Albany Linn 541
Ontario Malheur 541
Salem Marion 503
Boardman Morrow 541
Portland Multnomah 503
Salem Polk 503
Wasco Sherman 541
Tillamook Tillamook 503
Hermiston Umatilla 541
La Grande Union 541
Enterprise Wallowa 541
The Dalles Wasco 541
Beaverton Washington 503
Portland Washington 503
Fossil Wheeler 541
McMinnville Yamhill 503
This page was last modified on November 17, 2015.