Welcome to Notebooking Across the USA, a series of unit studies covering each state in the U.S. in order of admission to the union. You can find the landing page for this series with links to each states unit study as they are published, along with tips, suggestions, and recommended resources for this series here: Notebooking Across the USA. These unit studies are written with homeschool students grades 3-8 in mind.
The most recommended resource for this series is the USA States Pack, and while I believe it will be very helpful if you will be studying all of the states, it is not required. If you do wish to purchase the pack, use the code benandmeUSA for a 25% discount.
Oregon Unit Study
The destination of the famed Oregon trail, on February 14, 1859, Oregon became the 33rd state to join the union. Oregon covers 98,386 square miles. It is the 9th largest state of the fifty United States and is the 27th largest in population. The Pacific Ocean borders Oregon to the west. To the north the border is Washington; to the south, California and Nevada, and to the east, Idaho is Oregon’s border.
Oregon is considered to have a mild climate across the state. There are areas, such as the Cascade Mountains, were rain and snowfall happen on occasion. When snow does fall, the temperatures are very cold. The desert region of the state has less rain but more snowfall. The Pacific Ocean influences the weather, especially close to the coast.
Population: 4,086,752 million
Nickname: The Beaver State
“The Beaver State” became the unofficial nickname of Oregon in the early 19th century when beaver pelts were in abundance and being used for fur hats that became a fashion trend. The beaver is also admired for it’s intelligence and ingenuity.
Motto: “She Flies With Her Own Wings” (in Latin it is translated to “Alis Volat Propriis”)
The original motto of Oregon, adopted in 1957, was “The Union.” In 1987, it was officially changed to “She Flies With Her Own Wings.”
Agriculture: Beef cattle, milk, broilers, greenhouse products, hay, potatoes, berries, cherries, and timber.
Fishing Industry: albacore tuna, crab, groundfish, shrimp, and whiting.
Industry: electric and high-tech equipment, wood and food processing.
Mining: sand, gravel, pumice stone, gold, and clay.
Have your students color and label an outline map of Oregon. Include the state capital of Salem and include the largest city of Portland. Be sure to include Crater Lake, America’s deepest lake reaching 1,943 feet in depth. Also include the Columbia River and the Bonneville Historic Dam – a powerhouse that is part of the hydroelectric dam system on the river that at one time helped in producing up to 44% of the nation’s hydroelectric power.
In 1925, Oregon adopted the current state flag. The flag has different images on the front and back, making it unique from any other state flag in the U.S. Both sides are a deep, navy blue background with gold lettering and images. The front has Oregon’s state seal along with the words “State of Oregon 1859.” The reverse side shows the beaver, Oregon’s official state animal.
The official state seal has a shield with thirty-three stars around the outside edge. The stars represent Oregon becoming the 33rd state to join the union. The seal displays the state motto “She Flies With Her Own Wings.” The mountains, forests, an elk, a covered wagon with an ox team, the Pacific Ocean, a departing British ship, and an arriving American ship are also pictured on the seal. The top of the shield has an eagle. Below the motto are wheat and a pick-ax that symbolize the agriculture and mining success of Oregon. Around the outside of the shield is stated “State of Oregon 1859.”
Oregon State Bird: Western Meadowlark
The Audubon Society conducted a poll of school children in 1927 to select the official state bird. The children selected the Western Meadowlark, known for its beautiful song.
Oregon State Flower: Oregon Grape
The Legislature of Oregon adopted the Oregon Grape as the official state flower in 1899. The plant has foliage that resembles holly and yellow flowers. It is generally found on the Pacific Coast of Oregon.
Oregon State Tree: Douglas Fir
The Douglas Fir was adopted as the state tree of Oregon in 1939. It was chosen because it is the tree that provides the majority of softwood for Oregon’s lumber industry.
Lyrics written by J.A. Buchanan and music by Henry B. Murtagh, “Oregon, My Oregon” became the official state song in 1927.
Learn about Oregon’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Oregon has a wide variety of native trees, however, only a few of these span across the state. Please see below for native trees and the region where they can be found:
- Bigleaf Maple – Cascade Range, Coast Range, and Willamette Valley
- Bitter Cherry – Coast Range and Willamette Valley
- Black Cottonwood – Willamette Valley
- Cascara Buckthorn – Coast Range and Willamette Valley
- Chokecherry – Eastern Oregon and Southwest Oregon
- Coast Redwood – Southwest Oregon
- Douglas-Fir – Cascade Range, Coast Range, Eastern Oregon, Southwest Oregon, and Willamette Valley
- Golden Chinquapin – Southwest Oregon
- Grand Fir – Eastern Oregon and Willamette Valley
- Incense-Cedar – Eastern Oregon and Southwest Oregon
- Juniper – Eastern Oregon
- Lodgepole Pine – Cascade Range and Eastern Oregon
- Noble Fir – Cascade Range
- Oregon Ash – Willamette Valley
- Oregon White Oak – Southwest Oregon and Willamette Valley
- Pacific Dogwood – Cascade Range and Willamette Valley
- Pacific Madrone – Southwest Oregon and Willamette Valley
- Pacific Yew – Cascade Range and Coast Range
- Ponderosa Pine – Eastern Oregon and Southwest Oregon
- Red Alder – Cascade Range and Coast Range
- Sitka Spruce – Coast Range
- Vine Maple – Cascade Range, Coast Range, and Willamette Valley
- Western Hemlock – Cascade Range and Coast Range
- Western Larch – Eastern Oregon
- Western Redcedar – Cascade Range, Coast Range, and Willamette Valley
- White Alder – Southwest Oregon
- Willow – Southwest Oregon and Willamette Valley
Common birds include Spotted Towhee, Savannah Sparrow, Black-headed Grosbeak, Tundra Swan, Harlequin Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Cedar Waxwing, Orange-crowned Warbler, MacGillivray’s Warbler, and the House Finch
Increased trade opportunities were intriguing to the many Native American tribes that lived in Oregon as they welcomed European explorers into the area. In 1543, Juan R. Cabrillo explored the area spotting southern Oregon on his trip. In 1592, Juan de Fuca made detailed maps of the oceans which also brought him to Oregon. It did not take long for Oregon to become part of a trading route that spanned all the way to Asia. Much later, in 1778, James Cook of Britain came to the coast of Oregon looking for the Northwest Passage. Soon others came to the area for fur trade. Puget Sound was claimed by Britain in the late 1700s. In the years of 1805 and 1806, Lewis and Clark journeyed through Oregon and they explored the land associated with the Louisiana Purchase. At this time, both Britain and the United States were claiming proprietorship of Oregon. In 1811, Fort Astoria was built. This was the first permanent American settlement in Oregon and the Pacific Coast. After several years of disputing ownership, in 1846, Oregon was split evenly between the two countries.
A few years prior to Oregon begin divided between Britain and the U.S., settlers were coming to the area on the famed Oregon trail. Settlement continued to increase and on February 14, 1859 Oregon was admitted to the Union as the 33rd state. During the Civil War, troops from Oregon were sent east to fight. In light of this, volunteer forces were sent into Oregon to protect the Indian reservations, to serve as escorts for wagon trains, and to protect land surveyors.
After the Civil War, Oregon saw growth in their lumber and wheat markets, in their cities, and in the railroad system that connected them to the eastern portion of the United States. Settlers were still making their way to the area to make Oregon their home. Slavery became illegal in Oregon in 1844 and, by legal statute, free slaves had to leave the territory. Racial discrimination has been an issue in Oregon for a large majority of its history. In 2002, all laws stating discrimination based on color were removed from the Oregon state constitution.
Industry grew as Oregon entered the 20th century. The state was key in providing necessities such as food, power, and lumber to help develop the western portion of the United States. During World War I and World War II, industry in Oregon built ships and supplied food for the U.S. military. Even though, Oregon has seen success, it has not been without conflict over the years and has, more than once, considered secession from the U.S. Today, Oregon is considered to have the healthiest economy of the fifty states in the U.S.
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Road Trip Oregon
If you have a chance to visit the state of Michigan, be sure you don’t miss these sites. If you won’t be visiting, take a virtual field trip by clicking on the name of the site. Have your student create Travel Journal notebooking pages to record what they learn.
Crater Lake inspires awe. Native Americans witnessed it form 7,700 years ago, when a violent eruption triggered the collapse of a towering volcano. Scientists marvel at its purity: fed by rain and snow, it’s the deepest lake in the USA and perhaps the most pristine on earth. Artists, photographers, and sightseers stand in wonder at its blue water and stunning setting. Come visit, and be amazed!
Colorful rock formations at John Day Fossil Beds preserve a world class record of plant and animals, changing climate, and past ecosystems. Exhibits and a working lab at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center as well as scenic drives and hikes at all three units allow visitors to explore the prehistoric past of Oregon and see science in action.
Established in 1965 to tell the story of the Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) people. Spread out over four states, following the route of the 1877 conflict, this park offers something for everyone. The history and culture of the Nez Perce surround the park. Discover how the Nimiipuu adapted and today thrive continuing to preserve their culture.
Nestled deep inside the Siskiyou Mountains, the caves formed as rainwater from the ancient forest above dissolved the marble below, creating the “Marble Halls of Oregon.”
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is a science and technology museum in Portland, Oregon, United States. It contains three auditoriums, including a large-screen theatre, planetarium, and exhibition halls with a variety of hands-on permanent exhibits focused on natural sciences, industry, and technology. Transient exhibits span a wider range of disciplines.
The Column is the “crowning monument” in a series of 12 historical markers constructed between St. Paul, Minnesota and Astoria, Oregon. These markers were the pet project of Ralph Budd, who was president of the Great Northern Railroad at the time. Budd and other businessmen and scholars wanted to celebrate Astoria’s early settlers for their role in expanding the United States to the Pacific Coast.
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area protects the spectacular canyon where the Columbia River cuts through the Cascade mountains – with cliffs and overlooks of Washington to the north and Oregon’s mountains and waterfalls to the south. The Gorge is unique in its natural and cultural history, as well as its designation as a National Scenic Area.
A waterfall as magnificent and memorable as any in the country is located just a 30- minute drive outside of Portland. Visiting Multnomah Falls, a 611-foot-tall roaring, awe-inspiring cascade of icy water, lets you experience the power and beauty of nature up close and with ease. From the parking area off of I-84, a 5-minute walk is all that separates you from the exhilarating spray at the base of the falls.
The Oregon Historical Society shares its vast collection through thought-provoking, interactive museum exhibitions that make history visible and accessible. Three floors of permanent and traveling exhibitions feature rare documents and artifacts, and explore the people, places, and events that have shaped the history of Oregon and America.
Famous People from Oregon
Beverly Cleary (children’s author)
Chief Joseph (leader in the Nez Perce tribe)
Herbert Hoover (31st President of the U.S.)
Interesting Facts about Oregon
Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and is formed in the remains of an ancient volcano. It was formed more than 6,500 years ago. Its crystal-blue waters are world renowned.
The Columbia River gorge is considered by many to be the best place in the world for windsurfing.
Oregon and New Jersey are the only states without self-serve gas stations.
At 329 feet the Coast Douglas-Fir in Oregon is considered the tallest tree in the state.
At 8,000 feet deep Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America.
The “Oregon Pioneer” statue that tops the capitol building is a work by Ulric Ellerhusen. This heroic figure represents the spirit of Oregon’s early settlers.
The state park system has 159 yurts located in 19 parks. Yurts are a circular domed tent suitable for camping.
In 1858 the richest gold find in the Cascade Mountains was discovered in the Bohemia Mining District at Sharp’s Creek near Cottage Grove.
Discovered in 1874 the caves located in Oregon Caves National Monument are carved within solid marble.
In 1880 a sea cave was discovered near what is now known as Florence. Sea Lion Caves is known to be the largest sea cave in the world.
There are nine lighthouses standing along the coastline. Five are still being used; the others are designated historic monuments. The nation’s most photographed lighthouse is the Heceta Head Lighthouse located in Lane County. The Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, built in 1880, is currently used as the site of the final resting place of up to 467,000 cremated individuals.
Portland is an example of outstanding urban planning. The city is known as The City of Roses. High above the city of Portland the International Rose Test Garden features more than 500 varieties of roses cultivated continuously since 1917.
At 11,239 feet Mount Hood stands as the tallest peak in Oregon. Mount Hood is a dormant volcano.
Silver Falls State Park is the Oregon’s largest state park. It features 10 waterfalls and contains a wide variety of forested hiking trails.
The Carousel Museum contains the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of carousel horses.
Fort Clatsop National Memorial contains a replica of Lewis and Clark’s 1805-1806 winter outpost.
The small village of Bickelton is filled with bluebird houses seen on the posts of every house.
Tillamook is home to Oregon’s largest cheese factory.
The Oregon Trail is the longest of the overland routes used in the westward expansion of the United States.
The Tillamook Naval Air Museum is housed in the world’s largest wooden clear-span building.
The Seaside Aquarium was the first facility in the world to successfully breed harbor seals in captivity.
About 800 Oregon farm families grow hazelnuts on 45,000 acres. They produce 98% of the hazelnuts grown in the U.S.
Arts, Crafts, and Cooking
Learn how to draw a beaver.
Make a yarn doll.
Celebrate the hazelnut by making one of these delicious dishes that feature Nutella.
Have fun making this simple erupting volcano!
Play The Oregon Trail.
Enjoy this simple Nez Perce pinecone game!
Build a dam like a beaver!
Oregon Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
B is for Beaver: An Oregon Alphabet by Roland Smith
If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon by Ellen Levine
If You Were a Kid on the Oregon Trail by Josh Gregory
Beavers by Gail Gibbons
Tulip Sees America by Cynthia Rylant (out of print by may be available at your library)
Book Basket (NonFiction)
Paiute Princess: The Story of Sarah Winnemucca by Deborah Kogan Ray
The Nez Perce by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve (out of print but may be available at your library)
Herbert Hoover: Thirty-First President by Mike Venezia
Herbert Hoover by Michael Teitelbaum (out of print but may be available at your library)
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
Rescue on the Oregon Trail (Ranger in Time) by Kate Messner
Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain: The Story of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce by Agnieszka Biskup
A Girl from Yamhill by Beverly Cleary
The Ancient One by Tom Barron
Mr. Tucket by Gary Paulsen
Fire on the Wind by Linda Crew
Year of the Black Pony by Walt Morey
Enjoy this short video introduction to Oregon:
Documentary about beavers: Dam Beavers
Leave It to Beavers (Amazon Prime video)
Did you see something important I missed? Share in the comments and I may add it!