Oregon Genealogy Trails

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Fun Facts and Trivia

[And please be aware some of these facts may have changed]

    *Oregon has the smallest park in the world, Mills End Park, in Portland

    *Before Oregon officially became a U.S. territory in 1848, the provisional government briefly encouraged the minting of $5 and $10 dollar "Beaver Coins" in order to make up for the lack of U.S. currency. Thus Oregon has the distinction of being one of the few U.S. areas to mint its own currency. 

    *Oregon is the only state in the United States with a flag that features two sides. The "front" of the flag shows the state seal, while the "back" features a small beaver, in honor of the official state animal. 

    *Oregon has no sales tax! 

    *Oregon and New Jersey are the only states that prohibit self service at gas stations. 

    *Oregon claims the D River is the shortest river in the world, while the American state of Montana makes the same claim of the Roe River. The Guinness Book of Records officially declared that the two rivers are the same length and can both claim the honor.

    *The Kingsmen, who made the song "Louie Louie" famous, are from Portland. There was an unsuccessful effort to make "Louie, Louie" Oregon's official state song. The state song is Oregon, My Oregon which was written in 1920 and adopted in 1927.

    *In 1970 the Oregon Highway Division (now Oregon Department of Transportation) exploded a dead whale on a beach just outside Lane County.  The results were not as expected and KATU news reporter Paul Linnman captured the results on film of the exploding whale. The footage has since become an internet meme.

    *Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder grew up in Salem and graduated from South Salem High School in 1995.

    *Herbert Hoover lived in Newburg with his uncle for six years after his parents died. The Hoover-Minthorn House is now a museum.

    *Simpsons creator Matt Groening  grew up in Portland's affluent Northwest district and attended Lincoln High School. Portland references from the show include character names Flanders, Lovejoy, Powell, Quimby, and Terwilliger (all streets in Portland), as well as the proximity of a scenic gorge (presumably the Columbia River Gorge) and nuclear power plant (Trojan Nuclear Power Plant).

    *The hazelnut is Oregon's official state nut. Oregon is the only state that has an official state nut. The hazelnut is also known as the filbert. Oregon produces 95% of the domestic Hazelnuts in the United States.

    *Since 1899 the State Flower has been the Oregon Grape.

    *In 1927 the state's children chose the Western Meadowlark as the state bird.

    *The Douglas-fir has been the state tree since 1939.

    *Since 1961 the state fish has been the Chinook Salmon.

    *The beaver graces the state flag and has been the state animal since 1969.

    *Did you know that Oregon has more ghost towns than any other state. One such town, Whitney, never grew above 100 people and was deserted in 1918 after a fire.

    *High above the city of Portland the International Rose Test Garden features more than 500 varieties of roses cultivated continuously since 1917.

    *A treaty between the United States and Spain established the current southern border between Oregon and California. The treaty was signed in 1819.

    *The Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, built in 1880, is currently used as the site of the final resting place of up to 467,000 cremated individuals.

    *Whorehouse Meadows in Harney County was exactly that during the days of the Old West. Setting up facilities under a canvas tent in the secluded meadow about a mile east of Fish Lake they would then meet up with cattle and sheep herders. In the 1960's the Bureau of Land Management issued a recreation map renaming the meadow, “Naughty Girl Meadows” But in 1971 the Oregon Geographic Names Board took strong objection to the change and brought their argument before federal arbiters. After ten years the old name was restored in 1981.


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