Oregon - History and Heritage

Millions of years ago, Eastern Oregon was a land of three-toed horses, saber-toothed tigers and giant pigs. Go to John Day Fossil Beds, a National Monument where scientists have discovered fossils of plants and animals that date back 6 to 54 million years. Learn about this prehistoric area at the interactive exhibits at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center Museum. Hike the many trails and take in the striking geography of deep ravines and the scenic John Day River.

Native American Heritage
For thousands of years, Native Americans have inhabited the shores, valleys, and mountains of Oregon. View some 5,000 pieces of Native American art, including sculpture, beadwork, basketry and carvings, at the Portland Art Museum, see artifacts and ancestral treasures at the Museum at Warm Springs Reservation, and experience the culture of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla tribes at the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton.

In 1800, the Mississippi River was America's western border, and Oregon Country, which included today's Oregon, Washington, and a section of Idaho, was British territory. That soon would change. The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 expanded the country's border past the Rocky Mountains, and Lewis and Clark's expedition, along with a few trailblazers and fur traders who found accessible routes to the Pacific, brought the idea of the West back East. In 1843, a wagon train of nearly 1,000 people made it to Oregon. The trip was not easy and many died along the way, but their ultimate success inspired others. Thousands of emigrants followed their 2,000-mile path, deemed the Oregon Trail. Experience Lewis and Clark's epic expedition at the Fort-to-Sea Trail, and stand in the ruts left by the wagons of the pioneers at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

Go to historic Baker City to experience the era of the state's gold rush, when people flocked to southern Oregon in search of riches. Honor Chinese immigrants' contributions to the development of the West by visiting the John Day's Kem Wah Chung Museum, a perfectly preserved Chinese pharmacy and general store. And experience the Wild West with a tour of the Pendleton Underground, a network of tunnels underneath the town of Pendleton infamous for its illegal saloons, bordellos and opium dens during the late 1800s.

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