Today is a special day for a variety of reasons.
It’s Wednesday, which is always a nice day to mark the half-way point through the work week. It also happens to be Ash Wednesday.
The big event today that most people are celebrating, though, is Valentine’s Day.
A day full of romance and roses, candy hearts and sweethearts.
And of all the quotes about Valentine’s Day, my favorite is this:
“I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day.
When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind
is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.”
Today also happens to be my home state’s birthday.
On February 14, 1859, Oregon was officially admitted to the union as a state.
Oregon’s story started with Spanish and French exploration in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the early 1800s, Oregon was mapped by the Lewis and Clark expedition in their search for the Northwest Passage, opening a route for further exploration.
Merchants, traders and trappers were among the first people to forge a path across the Continental Divide on their way to Oregon territory. Missionaries are credited, through, with blazing the Oregon Trail. The first missionary group made their way west in the early 1830s.
Between 1840 and 1860, thousands of pioneers made the grueling overland trek of more than 2,000 miles. The U.S. began joint settlement of the area with the United Kingdom. In 1846, the border between U.S. and British territory was formally established at the 49th parallel. The part of the territory that was given to Britain would ultimately become part of Canada.
More than 50,000 people called Oregon home by 1857. Only white men were allowed to vote and they petitioned for statehood. The U.S. Senate began to consider Oregon statehood in May 1858 amid a split of the Democratic Party over slavery and ongoing controversy over admitting Kansas to the union. Oregon’s bid added complications to the ongoing debate. Southerners, such as Senator Jefferson Davis, opposed the admission of any more northern states, concerned about keeping a political balance. Others looked at specific issues such as the valid question of whether Oregon had a large enough population to qualify for statehood.
The final vote on the Oregon admission bill in the U.S. House of Representatives was delayed until February 1859, after languishing in the committee on territories for over six months. When votes were tallied on Feb. 12, they showed a narrow 114 to 103 victory for statehood. Two days later the president signed the bill and Oregon officially became the 33rd state in the union.
Here are some State of Oregon facts:
Date of Statehood: February 14, 1859
Population: 4,093,000 (2016 census)
Size: 98,379 square miles
Nickname: Beaver State
Motto: She Flies With Her Own Wings
Tree: Douglas Fir
Flower: Oregon Grape
Bird: Western Meadowlark
Some other fun details about the state include the fact there is no state sales tax. Oregon is the 10th largest state in the union (land wise) and is bordered by Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California, and the Pacific Ocean.
The state of Oregon offers great diversity in the landscapes. From the rugged coast and lush green forests on the west side of the state to the high desert and rolling hills of wheat on the east, Oregon offers an example of nearly every geographic terrain on the planet within its borders.
*Oregon is home to Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States.
*You’ll also find Hells Canyon in the northeast corner of the state, the deepest river-carved gorge in North America. At 7,913 feet, it’s deeper than the Grand Canyon.
*The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is one of the richest fossil sites in the world.
*The largest concentration of wintering bald eagles can be found in the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
*The highest elevation point is Mt. Hood at 11,239 feet.
*There are more than 6,000 lakes and 112,000 miles of rivers and streams.
*Nearly half of Oregon’s total land area is forested – close to 30 million acres.
History and Heritage
Although Oregon’s history may seem relatively new compared to other parts of the country, it has 14 National Historic Districts and four National Historic Trails, including the Oregon Trail (with ruts still visible in some areas).
*The first scenic highway in the U.S. (and also a historical landmark) is the Historic Columbia River Highway.
*Nine historic lighthouses and one light ship dot the Oregon Coast.
*Oregon is home to 10 Native American Tribes.
*Oregon boasts dozens of historical museums and a few interpretive centers including the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City.
Other Oregon Tidbits
*Although many get it wrong, Oregon is pronounced OR-UH-GUN or OR-GUN, but never, ever OR-EE-GONE.
*Oregon grows 99 percent of the entire U.S. commercial hazelnut crop. (Nutella, anyone?)
*More than 750 vinyards in Oregon product in excess of 70 different varietals of wine grapes.
*Tater tots were invented by two Oregon brothers, Nephi and Golden Grigg, founds of Ore-Ida.
*The Goonies was filmed mostly in Astoria with scenic cameo shots taken in other Oregon coastal towns. You can visit the official Goonies museum in Astoria to get more detail on the movie.
Now that your head is full of Oregon lore, how about we fill your heart with a little sweet Oregon-based romance?
Today, you can download this novella set in the fictional town of Holiday, Oregon, for FREE!
Fynlee Dale returns to Holiday to take care of her wacky grandmother. Although it means giving up her dreams of a career and husband, she needs to be there for Grams.
Carson Ford vows to take care of his elderly aunt after buying her ranch. Comfortable with all aspects of his life, his world turns upside down when he meets a woman who’s impossible to forget.
They find themselves in the midst of a plot by two scheming old women determined to make them fall in love.
Valentine Bride is a funny, sweet romance given a liberal dose of humor through a cast of colorful characters intertwined around a heartwarming love story.
Available on Amazon
Happy Valentine’s Day!