Sunday, February 21, 2010

On the Oregon Trail

Magnet # 174:  Multnomah Falls, Oregon Photo

Material:  Acrylic

Purchased By:  Mom & Dad

Oregon was also made a state on February 14 back in 1859.  Given that it was on the other side of the continent, the first Europeans to reach the area did so by boat.  Spanish sailors returning to Mexico from the Philippines were the first to sail the coastline along Oregon, and the British were next to the area.  Sir Francis Drake may have seen the southern coast of the region during an expedition, but James Cook definitely traveled the area in search of a Northwest Passage.  Soon, America was sending its own explorers there, and Lewis and Clark also tried to find a Northwest Passage in the area.  Both Americans and the British were sailing on the Columbia River at around the same time, but an American was the first to establish a settlement there at Astoria, where a fur-trading business sprang up.  The British managed to seize control of it during the War of 1812, and by 1818 both the British and the Americans had a joint occupancy of the area.  The United States had managed to gain all of Spain and Russia's claims to the region through treaties, but it wasn't until 1846 that they set a boundary at the 49th parallel, finally bringing all British claims in the Oregon territory to an end and avoiding a war.  This allowed more Americans to travel West on the Oregon Trail and settle the land.  The Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 brought in droves of settlers, and in less than a decade, the territory was able to achieve statehood.

I've never been to Oregon, but there are certainly some places I'd like to see there.  Of course, there's Multnomah Falls, which is featured on this magnet.  It's the second-tallest waterfall in the United States that pours all year.  There are also scenic hiking trails in the area.  And Crater Lake National Park is one of Oregon's most incredible scenic wonders.  It's the deepest lake in the country, and has some of the most intensely blue of any freshwater lake, and it's also unusually still and pure because no water source flows in or out of it.  Annual winter snowfalls bring more water into the lake.  Truly, this scenic area is one of a kind.  Mount Hood is another natural wonder of the state - it's a stunning snow-capped mountain that is actually an active volcano.  It's near Portland, the largest city in Oregon, which is truly a unique place to visit.  The culture there is shaped by young, unusual individuals who have created a charming, diverse environment.  Both art and food there is often produced by driven, passionate creators who raise standards above most cities.  There are over two dozen microbreweries crafting their own beers, enough coffee houses to give Seattle a run for its money, and the superior restaurants there have earned the city many awards and distinctions.  A city this unique is definitely worth checking out.  And I'd also be curious to see the Heceta Head Light on the coast, a charming lighthouse that stands near the cliffs and is now located beside a bed-and-breakfast inn.  It's listed among the most haunted lighthouses in the country and a ghost named Rue is said to frequent the area.  Scenic and spooky - what a potent combination!  Maybe someday I'll make it out to the Pacific Northwest and be able to see all of its great sights in Oregon for myself.  With all of its diverse and exciting locales, I doubt I'll be disappointed.

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