Saturday, March 1, 2014

50 States: Oregon


Imagine living in the eastern United States in the 1800s. Your family has fallen on hard times and decides to begin anew. You hear about the richness of the land to the west through the writings of John Fremont. His words excite you and your parents, and you gather all of the necessary supplies to make the journey and begin a new adventure. You don't have much money, and you won't have room for all of your possessions. What you decide to leave behind you sell so that you will have more money for food and other necessities. The first leg of the trip takes you to Independence, Missouri, where you board a ferry to cross the Missouri River. Once on the other side, you meet up with other pioneers. Did you ever think you'd be called a pioneer? Well, that is what you are now. You are joining a group of people who has decided to venture into the wilderness in hopes of a better life.

During the next six months you divide your time between walking beside the wagon and riding in it. It's a 2000-mile journey, so you are happy when you have the chance to ride. All of your meals are cooked on an open fire and are sometimes shared with fellow pioneers. You learn new songs, and you watch the adults dance. From time to time, you circle the wagons in an attempt to ward off the Indians.

As you venture on, you see mountains in the distance that you are sure will put an end to your journey, but your guide assures you that there is a passageway through them. Once you are on the other side, only a few hundred miles separate you from your new home.


By the time the first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, nearly 500,000 pioneers had traveled west via the Oregon Trail. Oregon (OR) became a U.S. territory in 1846 when President Polk signed a treaty with England. Just 13 years later, on February 14, 1859, it became the nation's 33rd state.

It has an area of roughly 98,400 square miles, making it the 9th largest state. As of 2013, there were nearly four million people living in OR. The largest city, Portland, is home to more than 600,000. Salem, the capital city, has just 157,000 (approximately) people living in it. Those who call Oregon home are called Oregonians. There have been quite a few famous people born here, most of whom are actors, actresses, and athletes. A few of the noteworthy are James Beard (chef), Ashton Eaton (track and field athlete), Douglas C. Engelbart (inventor of the computer mouse), Tonya Harding (ice skater), Terri Irwin (zoologist, married to Steve Irwin), Chief Joseph (Nez Perce chief who fled with his people to Canada after white settlement), Linus Pauling (chemist), Beverly Cleary (writer), and Philip Knight (co-founder of Nike).

Oregon's economy is supported by several different industries, including timber, the manufacturing of paper products, farming of wheat and cattle, coal mining, and the manufacturing of computer equipment and electronics.

Oregon's official flag was adopted 1925. It is the only US flag to still have a design on both sides. The back has a beaver (the state animal), and the front has "State of Oregon" and "1859." Within a heart-shaped seal are mountains, trees, elk, and a covered wagon (Oregon Trail). A British warship is shown leaving while an American steamship is arriving. This represents the transfer of Oregon from Britain to the US.

The state symbols are as follows: 

Bird...Western meadowlark
Animal...American beaver
Fish...Chinook Salmon
Insect...Oregon swallowtail butterfly
Flower...Oregon grape
Tree...Douglas fir
Mushroom...Pacific golden chanterelle
Rock...Thunderegg (geode)

The state nickname is the Beaver state, and the motto is "She flies with her own wings." This was the motto of the Oregon Territory in the mid 1800s and was readopted in 1987. It is said to more accurately reflect the independent spirit of Oregon than the old motto, "The Union."

Oregon lies along the Pacific Ring of Fire and has a number of volcanoes and geographical features formed from volcanoes such as Crater Lake, which was formed from the remains of a volcano, and Newberry Caldera. Mount Hood is a dormant volcano. Pilot Butte is a cinder cone volcano. Others include Mount Jefferson and Three Sisters.

There are no self-serve gas stations in Oregon, and nine lighthouses dot the Oregon coastline.

There are quite a number of interesting things to see while visiting Oregon, including: 

Fort Clatsop, a winter camp set up by Lewis and Clark
Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America
Mount Hood
Crater Lake National Park
Pittock Mansion, French chateau in Portland
Sea Lion Caves
World Forestry Center
Enchanted Forest Amusement Park
Wildlife Safari

Oregon also has aquariums, zoos, amusement parks, many national and state parks, lighthouses, science museums, air and space museums, theaters, and ski resorts. Visitors will always be able to find something to do.

Test your Oregon knowledge with these learning games.

The following items can be found at If you choose to purchase through my blog, I will receive a commission.

447284: Uniquely Oregon Uniquely Oregon
By Mary Boone / Heinemann Raintree

Discover what makes Oregon Uniquely Oregon! Discover its range of climate conditions, famous firsts, state symbols, its history and people from prehistory to modern-day Oregonians, government, culture, food, folklore, sports teams, products, natural resources, and much more. Photographs, maps, and sidebar notes provide additional insight into some of the features of the state. 48 pages with index and glossary, softcover.

405581: Oregon Survivor, Grades 3-8 Oregon Survivor, Grades 3-8
By Carole Marsh / Gallopade International

Do your students complain they're hounded by history, jumped on by geography, or suffocated by social studies? Divide your class into two "Team Smart" groups and pit them against one another in a rip-roarin' laughter fest of tornado-fast true and false, hair-raising history timelines, mad-dog matching, chilling charts, cranium-crushing crosswords, quicksand quagmires of question and answer fun-ALL TIMED! Grades 3-8; ages 8-14.

46796: National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest
National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest
By Peter Alden / Random House, Inc

Filled with concise descriptions and stunning photographs, the National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest belongs in the home of every Pacific Northwest resident and in the suitcase or backpack of every visitor. This compact volume contains:
  • An easy-to-use field guide for identifying 1,000 of the region's wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, mosses, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, butterflies, mammals, and much more
  • A complete overview of the Pacific Northwest's natural history, covering geology, wildlife habitats, ecology, fossils, rocks and minerals, clouds and weather patterns and night sky
  • An extensive sampling of the area's best parks, preserves, beaches, forests, islands, and wildlife sanctuaries, with detailed descriptions and visitor information for 50 sites and notes on dozens of others
The guide is packed with visual information. The 1,500 full-color images include more than 1,300 photographs, 14 maps, and 16 night-sky charts, as well as 150 drawings explaining everything from geological processes to the basic features of different plants and animals.

846928: Oregon Oregon
By Jonathan Brown & Catherine Gardner(Editor) / Gareth Stevens Publishing

Bolster students' knowledge of the state they live in! Discover the history of the state, including Native American history, colonial history, and modern history, and learn about the current demographics of the state, the land itself, the economy, state government, and cultural attractions. "Fun Facts," "Famous people," and "In history" sidebars provide interesting tidbits of information. Full-color photographs, time line, glossary, and index included. 32 pages, softcover. Grades 2-4.
38379: Oregon
By Dennis Fradin / Grolier Publishing Company

This book is an introduction to the Beaver State. You'll find this quite full of facts about the state of Oregon and its rich history and current events. Its pages are packed with full color photos and maps. 
404801: John C. Fremont John C. Fremont
By Karen Price Hossell / Heinemann Raintree

Who was John C. Fremont? He was a soldier, a businessman, a politician, but he is mostly known for being an explorer. He helped to survey the uncharted land in the west with several important expeditions. These expeditions are so important because the information from them was used to make some of the first maps of these areas; through these maps the American people were able to get glimpses of the Great Basin, Great Salt Lake City, and the Oregon Trail. This book gives an uncharted look at the life of John C. Fremont-from his early years in Charleston, South Carolina, through to his death in 1890.

142278: Pioneers Unit Study on CD-ROM
Pioneers Unit Study on CD-ROM
By Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett, LLC

This study covers the early expansion of our country, from thirteen colonies to the massive move westward along the Oregon Trail. Topics cover the daily lives of pioneers, American history, world history of the time, North American Indians, transportation in American history, and more.

Follow the pioneers across America, from the eastern seaboard to the Piedmont, through the Appalachians, past the Mississippi, and on to the prairies and the far west . . . and learn about their amazing endurance and perseverance, commitment and faith. The Pioneers Timeline is included, printable for each student's notebook.

The "Pioneers" unit is in electronic format, meaning children can work through the study interactively, clicking on the links in each lesson to further their own investigation. Each day's lesson plan has been written in two levels: Lower Level (elementary grades) and Upper Level (junior/senior high grades), enabling the whole family to learn together.

51588: If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon
By Scholastic Trade

Imagine traveling all the way to Oregon in a covered wagon; learn who became "trail guides", how far you'd travel in a day, dangers you'd encounter, and how to keep your oxen's feet from getting sore! Revised and updated, this classic book will make children feel as if they're there alongside the pioneers during the 1840s. 80 page
509354: Oregon Trail, The Oregon Trail, The
By Coughlan Publishing

73082X: Oregon Trail Stories Oregon Trail Stories
By Globe Pequot

103021: Life On The Oregon Trail Life On The Oregon Trail
By Sally Senzell Isaacs / Heinemann Raintree

Learn about what life was like on the Oregon Trail, from what it was like to keep your clothes clean, to learning about the various things you would encounter along your journey. Archival photographs and illustrations give a personal look at exactly what the pioneers saw. 32 pages, index and glossary included. Softcover.

69147: Facing West: A Story of the Oregon Trail Facing West: A Story of the Oregon Trail
By Kathleen Kudlinski / Puffin

Follow in the trail of young Ben, who, along with his family, sets off on the Oregon Trail in 1845. Witness their struggle as they fend off animals, hunger, weather, and more dangers; but Ben has another struggle the others do not...asthma. Will he have the strength to continue? 58 pages, softcover. Ages 7-11.

04: The Oregon Trail The Oregon Trail
By Francis Parkman / Random House, Inc

The vast isolation and terrifying loneliness of the "road" from Missouri to Oregon captivated the imaginations of 19th-century travelers and readers. One of the greatest adventure books of all time, legendary historian Parkman's vivid account of his escapades and encounters with the Plains Indians on the wild frontier of the 1840s will thrill your students, too! Ages 12 and up. 287 pages, softcover from National Geographic.

725796: It Happened on the Oregon Trail It Happened on the Oregon Trail
By Tricia Martineau Wagner / Globe Pequot

So much more happened on the Oregon Trail than what's in textbooks! Twenty-nine lesser-known events are told here, and provide unique insight into the adventures encountered by the pioneers who headed west. From a trailside wedding to a photographer's story, these true stories will give you a new appreciation and understanding of what it was like on the Oregon Trail. 172 indexed pages, softcover.

454393: The Mystery on the Oregon Trail The Mystery on the Oregon Trail
By Carole Marsh / Gallopade International

Set in major American locations, and using real kids are characters, this popular nation-wide series integrates history and state lore into fascinating mysteries! Christina, Grant, Mini, and Papa are traveling the Oregon Trail not by plane or car, but by covered wagon; and of course, there's a mystery to solve along the way!158 pages, softcover.

126150: Choosing Your Way Through America"s Past, Book 2: Adventures from 1800-1850 Choosing Your Way Through America's Past, Book 2: Adventures from 1800-1850
By Walch Education

You become the central character in these stories about important issues and events in our nation's history. At crucial points in each episode, you choose the next course of action. Then you read on to learn how that decision determines your fate. Each story has four possible endings.
The five stories in this volume include:
  • California Rancho (1826)
  • Escape from Virginia (1830)
  • Oregon or Texas Ho! (1830)
  • A Painful Decision (1848)
  • Gold in California (1849)
Grades 6 and up. 53 pages, softcover.

0727463: My Own Two Feet My Own Two Feet
By Beverly Cleary / Harpercollins Publishing

This is a collection of memoirs by of Beverly Cleary, the creator of many famous childrens stories, about her college years to the time of the publication of her first book. 346 pages, paperback, from Avon Books.

960901: The Complete Ramona Collection The Complete Ramona Collection
By Beverly Cleary & Tracy Dockray / Harpercollins Publishing

Children love Ramona Quimby and all of the fun, outrageous misadventures she finds herself in. Whether it's pining over her Susan's curls, wearing pj's to school, or even making egg yolk shampoo (accidentally!), Ramona finds herself in hysterical, embarrassing, and heartwarming situations. This set features eight softcover books, complete with a slipcase cover to contain them all. Books included are:
  • Beezus and Ramona
  • Ramona The Pest
  • Ramona The Brave
  • Ramona and her Father
  • Ramona and her Mother
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8
  • Ramona Forever
  • Ramona's World

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