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Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It borders the Pacific Ocean on the west, Washington on the north, Idaho on the east, and California and Nevada on the south. The Columbia and Snake Rivers form, respectively, much of its northern and eastern borders. Between two north-south mountain ranges in western Oregon—the Oregon Coast Range and the Cascade Mountain Range—lies the Willamette Valley, the most densely populated and agriculturally productive region of the state.

Oregon has one of the most diverse landscapes of any state in the U.S. It is well known for its tall, dense forests; its accessible and scenic Pacific coastline; and its rugged, glaciated Cascade volcanoes. Other areas include semiarid scrublands, prairies, and deserts that cover approximately half the state in eastern and north-central Oregon.

Oregon's population in 2010 was about 3.8 million, a 12% increase over 2000. Oregon's population is largely concentrated in the Willamette Valley, which stretches from Eugene through Salem and Corvallis to Portland, Oregon's largest city.

The origin of the name Oregon is unknown. One account, advanced by George R. Stewart in a 1944 article in American Speech, was endorsed as the "most plausible explanation" in the book Oregon Geographic Names. According to Stewart, the name came from an engraver's error in a French map published in the early 1700s, on which the Ouisiconsink (Wisconsin) River was spelled "Ouaricon-sint", broken on two lines with the -sint below, so that there appeared to be a river flowing to the west named "Ouaricon".

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Wayne L. Morse United States Courthouse
Credit: Aboutmovies

The Wayne L. Morse United States Courthouse in downtown Eugene was completed in 2006 and named for former U.S. Senator Wayne Morse.

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FBI fugitive photo
Katherine Ann Power (b. January 25, 1949) is an American ex-convict and long-time fugitive, who was placed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Ten Most Wanted List in 1970, along with her accomplice Susan Edith Saxe, a fellow student at Brandeis University. The two participated in robberies at a Massachusetts National Guard armory and a bank in Brighton, Massachusetts where Boston police officer Walter Schroeder was shot and killed by one of their accomplices. These acts were to support protesting the war in Vietnam. Power remained at large for 23 years. In 1993, Katherine Ann Power negotiated a surrender with authorities and ended 23 years of hiding. Negotiations were carried out through her attorneys Steven Black, a public defender, and Rikki Klieman, a prominent Boston lawyer. On September 15, 1993, she pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery and manslaughter in Boston. Power was sentenced to eight to twelve years in prison for the bank robbery, and five years and a $10,000 fine for the National Guard armory crimes. Additionally, judge Robert Banks of Suffolk County Superior Court imposed a probation condition that Power could not profit from her crime. Power appealed this portion of the sentence on First Amendment grounds, but the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected the argument and the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari.

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Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene
Eugene is the county seat of Lane County, Oregon. It is located at the south end of the Willamette Valley, at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers, about 60 miles (97 km) east of the Oregon Coast. According to the official 2007 population figures Eugene is the second-largest city in Oregon, with an estimated population of 153,690, and the third-largest metropolitan population. Eugene was long the state's second-largest city after Portland, but was overtaken by Salem in terms of population from around 2004 to 2006. Eugene is named after its founder, Eugene Franklin Skinner, who in 1846 erected the first cabin in the area. The first post office was registered on January 8, 1850 and the city was incorporated in 1862. Eugene is home to the University of Oregon's main campus, which is downtown. The city is also noted for its natural beauty, activist political leanings, alternative lifestyles, recreation opportunities (especially bicycling, rafting, and kayaking), and arts focus. Eugene's motto is "The World's Greatest City of the Arts and Outdoors." In addition to the university-owned cultural facilities, the city is home to the Hult Center for the Performing Arts and The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts. It is also referred to as "The Emerald Empire," "The Emerald City," "The People's Republic of Eugene," and "Track Town, USA" or "The Track Capital of the World." The Nike corporation had its beginnings in UO's track program. Eugene's largest industries are wood products manufacturing and recreational vehicle manufacturing, and the city is home to the corporate headquarters of employee-owned Bi-Mart.

State facts

State symbols:

American beaver
Western meadowlark
Chinook salmon
Oregon grape
Oregon Swallowtail butterfly
Douglas fir



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Downtown Portland
Credit: Eric Baetscher
A view of Portland, Oregon from the east waterfront depicting the skyline of the downtown district. The Hawthorne Bridge is prominent on the left. Although Portland is Oregon's largest city, it is not the state capital; that designation falls to Salem.

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Joseph Meek
I have no quarrel with those who want this government under England's rule, but if you want to live in a republic with a flap in which every star shines a beacon for free government, and every stripe is a band that binds us together as a government for the people - vote for your Uncle Sam. Come now, who's for a divide!
Joseph Meek, calling for votes at the Champoeg Meetings in 1843

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Oregon State Capital rotunda
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Lighthouse of Cape Meares, Oregon


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Coordinates: 44°00′N 120°30′W / 44°N 120.5°W / 44; -120.5