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Oregon: Beaver State

JOINED UNION: February 14, 1859
STATE BIRD: Western Meadowlark
STATE FLOWER: Oregon Grape
MEANING OF STATE NAME: Origin and meaning of name unknown
1992 POPULATION: 2,977,331
LAND AREA: 96,003 square miles
ECONOMY: Commercial fishing, lumber and wood products, tourism, high technology
HISTORY: Indians lived in Oregon 10,000 years ago and were fishing the state's waters for salmon when Captain James Cook sailed its coastline in the 1770s, looking for the Northwest Passage. Captain Robert Gray of America discovered the Columbia River in 1792, while Lewis and Clark explored it in 1805-06. Settlers began arriving in Oregon in 1843 on the famous Oregon Trail. The discovery of gold in the 1850s brought people to Oregon and those who stayed began to farm and ranch the area. Today, Oregon residents are among the most environmentally conscious of American citizens, taking great pride in their state's forests, lakes, and waters.

Quarrel Of The Gods 1902


According to the early Native Americans who lived in this part of Oregon, the Chief of the "world above" and the Chief of the "world below" got into a major quarrel. As a result of their struggle, the earth in this area collapsed almost 2,000 feet and filled with water. Then the underworld god fled into these icy waters as the overworld god dropped a mountain top on the lake to block his opponent's surfacing.

Modern science says the volcanic cone of Mt. Mazama collapsed about 7,000 years ago and created this pristine blue lake, the deepest in America and the seventh deepest in the world. In the 1,500 years following the explosion, rain and melting snow cooled the molten pit and slowly it filled with water to make a lake that covers 20 square miles.

In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt made the spectacular Crater Lake, first viewed by white men in the 1850's, into a national park.

Because of its great depth, Crater Lake is an exquisite and piercing shade of blue. Like other lakes, it breaks rays of sunlight into a prism and absorbs all its colors except blue. The deeper the lake, the purer the color of blue that is reflected.

Lining the lake's 35 miles of shoreline are cliffs that range in height of up to 2,000 feet, making it 4,000 feet from the cliffs' tops to lake bottom. Visitors to the lake must make a steep descent to its surface. The rim of the lake's cliffs is laced with deep green hemlock, fir, and pine trees that make a spectacular setting for the round blue gem of a lake in their center. The early Indians might have thought of Crater Lake as an engagement ring of the gods, if the giving of rings had been their custom.

Situated in the lake is Wizard Island, a volcano within the collapsed volcano, formed in a smaller explosion after the one that formed Crater Lake. Wizard Island has a 90-foot deep crater into which visitors can climb.

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