Introduction to Salem, Oregon
Salem is the capital city of the state of Oregon and also the county seat of Marion County. It is situated about 46 miles southwest of Portland in Oregon's Willamette River valley, one of the nation's most fertile agricultural regions. The city lies at the junction of Oregon State Highways 22, 213, and 221. Interstate I-5 provides northerly transportation to Portland and southerly to the city of Eugene.
One of Oregon's oldest communities, Salem was originally called Chemeketa, an Indian term meaning "meeting or resting place." It replaced Oregon City as the territorial capital in 1851, but in 1855 it was itself temporarily replaced as capital by the city of Corvallis (40 miles to the south). This arrangement lasted less than a year, after which time Salem was restored to its former status as territorial capital. Salem became incorporated as a city in 1857 and when Oregon achieved statehood two years later, Salem became its permanent state capital. Fire destroyed both of the city's first two Capitol buildings, one of which was copper-domed and modeled in part after the U.S. Capitol building. Salem's third (and present) Oregon State Capitol building was completed in 1938 at the site of the first two. The structure is distinguished by its gold-plated pioneer statue, known as the Oregon Pioneer, mounted atop the capitol dome.
Salem Events and Attractions
One of Oregon's premier cultural events is the annual Salem Art Fair & Festival. A July tradition for over half a century, the celebration set among historic oak trees in Bush's Pasture Park is the largest juried art festival of its kind in the state and one of the most spirited community-driven events in the Northwest. Another premiere city event is the annual World Beat Festival. Held in June, the two-day celebration at Riverfront Park features music, food, international crafts, and includes a Dragon Boat race. The city's largest event is late summer's Oregon State Fair. Celebrated at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in North Salem, the event offers exhibits and competitions typical of a traditional state fair and also features big-ticket concerts.
Salem also offers a wide variety of recreational and cultural places to visit. Silver Falls State Park, located 24 miles east of town, is Oregon's largest state park with a multiple-use trail system ranging more than 22 miles. Downtown Salem boasts the Oregon State Capitol, in addition to the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, the Mission Mill Museum, and the historic Elsinore Theatre. The Salem Repertory Theatre offers presentations at the Reed Opera House, an historic downtown structure. Museums in Salem include the Bush House Museum, A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village, the Marion County Historical Society Museum & Education Center, and the Mission Mill Museum.
Professional sports can be found in the adjoining city of Keizer, home of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, a minor league Class Single-A baseball team affiliated with Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants. Nearby Corvallis is home to college baseball's Oregon State Beavers, winners of the 2006 College World Series and NCAA national champions. Less than an hour away is the city of Portland, home of the National Basketball Association's Portland Trail Blazers. Also in Portland are the Portland Beavers, a minor league baseball franchise affiliated with Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres. The Beavers compete in the Class Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Hockey fans in Portland can root for the Portland Winter Hawks, a member of the Western Hockey League (WHL).