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by Lorry Patton
Oregon is located on the west coast of the United States, east of the Pacific Ocean, west of Idaho, south of Washington and north of California.
Oregon's 97,000 square acres are divided by the Cascade Mountains. This foreboding range, running north and south, roughly 150 miles inland of the ocean, literally cuts the state in two. Most of the state's major cities are located west of the Cascade Mountains.
South east of the Cascades, rich in natural resources along the Columbia Basin, the rolling expanses of grassy meadows, when properly irrigated, produces healthy crops for grazing and for growing grains and fruit.
East of the Pacific Ocean and west of the Cascades, the terrain is forested and fertile, a boon to early loggers and today a boon to visitors who enjoy hiking and camping.
Oregon's highest point is Mount Hood, at 11,235 feet. The nation's lowest point is at Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in North America, also located in Oregon.
Portland is Oregon's largest city, with just over a half million people. Portland is located west of the Cascade Mountains, 78 miles east of the Pacific Ocean. Portland is connected to the Pacific Ocean via the Columbia and Willamette rivers.
Eugene is Oregon's second largest city and Salem is the state's capital and third in size. Bend, located in central Oregon, is the largest city east of the Cascades.
One of the most visited region in Oregon is the portion that traverses the west coast along Highway 101. Highway 101 begins in Washington State and ends in California.
The first town in northwest Oregon that highway 101 crosses is Astoria. The last town on the opposite end of the state is Brookings just before California's state line.
Highway 101 makes its way along the ocean, passing one funky, charming and definitely touristy seaside village after another, dramatically displaying the ruggedness and beauty of the state. The terrain here can rise sharply and suddenly as the land here is part of the lower Coast Range mountains which protrude from the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
Sometimes Highway 101 curves up and around breathtaking vistas and sometimes it rolls smoothly at sea level. The unexplainable giant rocky boulders at the seashore are eye-popping. On a windy summer day, windsurfers can be seen in the distance. During storm season, beachcombers explore the beaches looking for sea treasures.
Another region that is worthy of exploring in Oregon includes the portion along the Columbia river and The Dalles. Here the Columbia River separates Oregon from the state of Washington. Once again, the sights are startling and unique.
Logging drew early settlers to the area, fertile in Douglas firs. However, manufacturing was added to the economy coffers when lumber was somewhat depleted (along with the fur trade, which at one point was so rewarding, the state was nick-named the Beaver State). Today, with over have the state covered in forests, logging still supplies one fifth of the lumber in the United States.
Climate in Oregon varies and depends whether you are east or west of the Cascade Mountains. Winters west of the mountain range are damp and mild, while winters in the Columbia basin on the east side of the range are extremely cold with abundant snowfall. Summers too, depend on the location, with hotter summers on the east side and milder summers on the west coast.
Visitor highlights in Oregon include high profile festivals such as summer's Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, the Rose Festival in Portland, September's Pendleton Roundup in Pendleton and the Timber Carnival in Albany.

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