Oregon is a state of rugged beauty, with stunning vistas at every turn. But it’s also a land rich in history, from the era of pioneers to the present day. If you’re ready for a road trip through Oregon’s past, grab your map and let’s hit the road.
Our journey begins in the eastern part of the state, where the Oregon Trail brought pioneers westward in the mid-1800s. Start in Baker City, which was once the largest city between Salt Lake City and Portland. The downtown area is still filled with historic buildings from the gold rush era, including the Geiser Grand Hotel, which opened in 1889 and has hosted famous guests like Theodore Roosevelt and Clark Gable.
From Baker City, travel north to the town of La Grande, which was a major stop on the Oregon Trail. Visit the Union County Museum to learn about the pioneers who passed through here, and take a hike in the nearby Wallowa Mountains to experience the stunning natural beauty that drew them westward.
Continuing westward, you’ll come to Pendleton, which was founded by a pioneer named George Dorris in 1851. Today, it’s famous for its annual Pendleton Round-Up, a rodeo that has been held every September since 1910. You can also tour the Pendleton Woolen Mills, which has been producing blankets and clothing since 1909.
As you head further west, you’ll come to the Columbia River Gorge, a stunning natural wonder that was formed over millions of years by the mighty Columbia River. Stop in the town of Hood River to sample some of the local fruit, including cherries, pears, and apples. You can also visit the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum, which has an impressive collection of vintage planes and cars.
Continuing westward, you’ll come to Portland, the largest city in Oregon. The city was founded in 1851 and grew rapidly during the gold rush era. Today, it’s known for its vibrant arts scene, delicious food, and microbreweries. Visit the Oregon Historical Society to learn about the state’s history, or take a stroll through the city’s many parks and gardens.
From Portland, head south to the town of Salem, which has been the capital of Oregon since 1859. Visit the State Capitol Building to see the famous golden pioneer statue on top, and take a tour of the Oregon State Hospital, which was featured in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Further south, you’ll come to Eugene, which is home to the University of Oregon. The city was founded in 1852 and has a rich history of activism and environmentalism. Visit the Museum of Natural and Cultural History to learn about the state’s geology and Native American cultures, or take a hike in nearby Spencer Butte Park.
Our journey ends in the town of Ashland, which is famous for its annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The festival was founded in 1935 and features performances of Shakespeare’s plays as well as modern works. Visit Lithia Park to see the stunning gardens and waterfalls, or take a walk through the historic downtown area.
Oregon’s history is a rich tapestry of pioneer spirit, natural wonders, and cultural diversity. Whether you’re interested in the Oregon Trail, the Columbia River Gorge, or the vibrant city of Portland, there’s something for everyone on this road trip through the past. So pack your bags and hit the road – it’s time to explore the wonders of Oregon’s history.