Oregonians love a good birthday party and there’s no better way to celebrate Oregon’s Birthday than an outdoor adventure that also teaches you more about the place that we call “home.”
When you reach 153 years of age, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate.
Just ask your Oregon neighbors and you’ll find out: “What’s so special about Oregon’s Birthday?”
In recent impromptu interviews, we asked Hillsboro residents that very question.
Mathew Donell said: “I’ve lived in Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia and this is – of the four places I’ve lived – by far, the place I’ve loved the most.”
Tina Jacobsen responded, “I love that we are so close to the mountains and the ocean and I love that it is so green and beautiful here.”
Grace Simantel said, “I like the people – in the stores and everywhere.”
Tira Gaeston agreed and added, “Well, everyone needs a birthday, so we should celebrate because Oregon deserves a birthday…like all of us.”
If you decide to learn more about Oregon’s road to statehood 153 years ago, start your adventure at Champoeg State Park near Wilsonville and discover that Oregon’s early pioneers felt exactly the same way:
Oregon State Park Ranger, Dennis Wiley, said that Champoeg State Park holds on to the Oregon story that began in the 1840’s. He added that the park’s visitor center can show you how it happened:
“The early arrivals started the “Oregon way.” Those folks wanted to do things a little bit differently and they built the townsite with their own hands because they knew this was remarkable place.”
Champoeg is where the first provisional state government formed in 1843 and it set the stage for statehood that followed on February 14, 1859.
The nearby Robert Newell house has been standing just as long and while it’s a private museum now, it’s interior furnishings arrived on the Oregon Trail and reflect the success that Newell found in Oregon.
“You can see the wealth in the formal layout of the rooms,” noted Park Ranger Mike Niss. “The clothing, the bedding – everything was a little better quality than the average citizen would have had at that time.”
Fifteen miles away, there’s a bigger than average reason to stop in at Willamette Mission State Park where Jason Lee built the first Methodist mission in 1834.
The park is also home to a gigantic cottonwood tree that was here long before the church was built according to Park Manager Ryan Sparks:
“We believe this tree was here before the mission was built, so this tree has seen some of the earliest settlers come to the Willamette Valley.
It has also proven irresistible to people who admire the size and age of a tree that pre-dates statehood, like Oregon landscape photographer Michael Horodyski.
“It is really impressive,” noted Horodyski, an avid photographer who seeks out interesting and unique Oregon locales every chance he gets. “I really like these historical or heritage sites because you don’t get to see this sort of thing anywhere else. It’s a special tree and it’s got a unique view to our world.”
Sparks added that you are able to touch Oregon history at three other nearby state parks that are easily rolled into the capitol mall one Salem visit.
Wilson Park, Capitol Park and the Capitol Mall are all part of the Capitol State Park in Salem.
“You can see statues here of Jason Lee, Dr John McLoughlin (the Father of Oregon) and the Circuit Rider statue – we even have a replica of the Liberty Bell on the mall outside the capitol building as well.”
Several water fountains and a gorgeous show of flowering cherry trees that bloom each spring compliment the State Capitol State Park’s statues.
Ryan Sparks added that a visit is perfect cap to your day’s adventure, so consider it a journey of discovery to learn more about the place you call home.
“It’s really important for all of use to know where we came from and I think it helps put perspective on what it was like for the early settlers. When you travel between these parks you begin to see how they compliment each other.”