Oregon Almanac: Mountains to National Wildlife Refuges
Blue Mountains: This northeastern Oregon mountain chain is part of the Columbia Plateau, which also extends into southeastern Washington. Lava flows cover much of the surface, and the upper, wooded slopes have been used for lumbering. Recreation and livestock grazing are the mountains principal economic uses. The highest elevation is Rock Creek Butte (9,105'), located on the Elkhorn Ridge a few miles west of Baker City.
Cascade Range: This lofty mountain range extends the entire north-south length of Oregon east of the Willamette Valley. It lies about 100 to 150 miles inland from the coastline and forms an important climatic divide, with the western slopes receiving abundant precipitation but the eastern slopes very little. The western slopes are heavily wooded, with the eastern section mainly covered by grass and scrub plants. Many lakes and several large rivers are in the mountains, the latter harnessed for hydroelectric power. The range is used frequently for outdoor recreation, including camping, hiking and skiing. The highest elevations are Mt. Hood (11,239'), located in Clackamas and Hood River Counties, and Mt. Jefferson (10,495'), located in Jefferson, Linn and Marion Counties.
Coast Range: The Coast Range runs the length of the state along the western coastline, from the Columbia River in the north to the Rogue River in the south. These mountains contain dense soft-wood forests which, historically, made lumbering an important economic activity. Their eastern slopes mark the western edge of the Willamette Valley. The highest elevation north of Coquille is Mary’s Peak (4,097'), located in Benton County. The highest elevation south of Coquille is Mt. Bolivar (4,319') in Coos and Curry Counties.
Klamath Mountains: The Klamath Mountains in southwestern Oregon are sometimes included as part of the Coast Range. These mountains include numerous national forest and wildlife preserves and contain scenic portions of the Klamath River. The highest elevation is Mt. Ashland (7,532'), located in Jackson County.
Steens Mountain: This is a massive, 30-mile-long mountain in the Alvord Valley featuring valleys and U-shaped gorges that were cut by glaciers one million years ago. It is located in Harney County in southeastern Oregon and is 9,773' in elevation.
Mountains, Major Highway Passes
Highway 20: Santiam Pass, 4,817', Tombstone Pass, 4,236'
Highway 26: Blue Box Pass, 4,024'
Highway 35: Barlow Pass, 4,157', Bennett Pass, 4,674'
Highway 58: Willamette Pass, 5,126'
Highway 66: Green Springs Summit, 4,551'
Highway 140: summit east of Fish Lake, 5,105'
Highway 242: McKenzie Pass, 5,325'
Highway 6: Wilson River Summit, 1,586'
Highway 18: Van Duzer Summit, 793'
Highway 26: summit west of Elsie, 1,309'
Highway 34: Alsea Summit, 1,203'
Highway 42: summit near Camas Mountain, 1,472'
Highway 20: Drinkwater Pass, 4,212', Stinkingwater Pass, 4,848'
Highway 26: Blue Mountain Pass, 5,109', Dixie Summit, 5,279', Keyes Creek Summit, 4,382', Ochoco Pass, 4,722'
Highway 95: Blue Mountain Pass, 5,293'
Highway 395: Battle Mountain Summit, 4,270', Idlewild Summit, 5,340', Long Creek Mountain Summit, 5,101', Starr Summit, 5,152'
Interstate 84: Deadman Pass, 3,815', Ladd Creek Summit, 3,619'
Highway 140: Blizzard Gap, 6,122', Bly Mountain Pass, 5,087', summit at Doherty Rim, 6,240', Quartz Mountain Pass, 5,504', Warner Pass, 5,846'
Highway 199: summit at Hayes Hill, 1,640'
Interstate 5: Canyon Creek Pass, 2,020', Sexton Summit, 1,956', Siskiyou Summit, 4,310', Stage Road Pass, 1,830'
The 1999 Legislature recognized the Pacific golden chanterelle (Cantharellus formosus) as the Oregon state mushroom. This mushroom is a wild, edible fungus of high culinary value that is unique to the Pacific Northwest. More than 500,000 pounds of Pacific golden chanterelles are harvested annually in Oregon, representing a large portion of the commercial mushroom business.
In 2002, Governor John Kitzhaber named composer and recording artist Mason Williams as Oregon’s musician laureate. Williams is best known for his instrumental “Classical Gas” which earned him three Grammy Awards in 1968. In addition to his musical talents, Williams is also a comedy writer who has written for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and Saturday Night Live and for personalities including Steve Martin, Dinah Shore and Andy Williams. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the arts, Williams received the annual Oregon Governor’s Art Award in 1990 and the University of Oregon’s Distinguished Service Award in 1999.
Name of Oregon
The first written record of the name “Oregon” comes to us from a 1765 proposal for a journey written by Major Robert Rogers, an English army officer. It reads, “The rout . . . is from the Great Lakes towards the Head of the Mississippi, and from thence to the River called by the Indians Ouragon. . . .” His proposal rejected, Rogers reapplied in 1772, using the spelling “Ourigan.” The first printed use of the current spelling appeared in Captain Jonathan Carver’s 1778 book, Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America 1766, 1767 and 1768. He listed the four great rivers of the continent including “the River Oregon, or the River of the West, that falls into the Pacific Ocean at the Straits of Annian.”
While no definitive pronounciation of “Oregon” is given in Oregon Geographic Names, the most common pronunciation by long-time Oregonians is “OR-ee-gun.”
Eagle Point, Eagle Point
National Fish Hatcheries
Eagle Creek, Estacada
Warm Springs, Warm Springs
Deschutes, Fremont-Winema, Malheur, Mt. Hood, Ochoco, Rogue River-Siskiyou, Siuslaw, Umatilla, Umpqua, Wallowa-Whitman, Willamette
Crooked River - near Madras
National Historic Site
Fort Vancouver (Oregon, Washington)
Cascade-Siskiyou, near Ashland
John Day Fossil Beds, located in three units near Kimberly, Mitchell and Fossil
Newberry National Volcanic Monument, near Bend
Oregon Caves, near Cave Junction
Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
Nez Perce National Historical Park (Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Washington)
National Recreation Areas
Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area (Oregon, Idaho)
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
National Scenic Area
Columbia River Gorge
California National Historic Trail
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Oregon National Historic Trail: Its length is 2,170 miles from Independence, Missouri to the Willamette Valley, Oregon. It passes through Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon.
National Wildlife Refuges
Ankeny, near Jefferson
Bandon Marsh, near Bandon
Baskett Slough, near Dallas
Bear Valley, near Klamath Falls
Cape Meares, near Tillamook
Cold Springs, near Hermiston
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, near Lakeview
Klamath Marsh, near Klamath Falls
Malheur, near Burns
McKay Creek, near Pendleton
Nestucca Bay, near Pacific City
Oregon Islands, off southern Oregon coast
Siletz Bay, near Lincoln City
Three Arch Rocks, off coast near Oceanside
Tualatin River, near Sherwood
Upper Klamath, near Klamath Falls
William L. Finley, near Corvallis