15 Things You Might Not Know About Oregon
By M. Arbeiter
1. You might think that a crack team of high-paid designers came up with Nike’s renowned “swoosh” logo. In fact, it was Portland State University student and Oregon native Carly Davidson who thought up the design in 1971. She sold it to Nike’s co-founder (Phil Knight, another Oregon native and an accounting professor at the college) for only $35.
2. Knight is also co-founder and chairman of the animation studio Laika, which operates in Portland under the management of his son Travis. Laika, the brand behind Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls, is just one of many animation companies situated in Portland, which is considered one of the top cities in America to pursue a career in the field. ADi, Happy Trails Animation, BENT IMAGE LAB, Hinge Digital, Wallace Creative, and several others call the Oregon city their home.
3. Without one particular Oregon invention, you’d have had an awful hard time clicking on this article. In 1970, Portland’s most delightfully named scientist Douglas Engelbart patented his long gestating invention, the computer mouse.
4. Also born in Oregon: the hacky sack. The game—and partnership of co-inventors Mike Marshall and John Stalberger—came to be in 1972, when Marshall introduced a makeshift beanbag to Stalberger, who was nursing a knee injury and was seeking a fun and stress-free means of rehabilitation. Following Marshall’s death, Stalberger sold the idea to the Wham-O toy company in 1983.
5.With a bed resting 1,943 feet below the surface, Oregon’s Crater Lake enjoys distinction as the deepest lake in the United States (and the ninth deepest on Earth). The 6-mile-long, 5-mile-wide body of water was formed as a result of the collapse of the cascade volcano Mount Mazama.
around 5000 BCE. Crater Lake is also noteworthy for remarkable water clarity and purity, and for its sacred significance to the Klamath Native Americans.
6. The state also hits another landmark in nautical depth. Hells Canyon, which sits on Oregon’s border with Idaho, is the deepest river gorge in North America. A distance just shy of 8,000 feet (7,993, to be precise) separates the peak of the He Devil mountain and the pit of the ravine.
7. The last of Oregon’s achievements in maritime grandeur concerns its Sea Lion Caves, the longest sea caves in America … or anywhere, for that matter, outside of New Zealand (which claims the only five sea caves in the world longer than Oregon’s).
8. The mother of all “biggests” has got to be Oregon’s Armillaria solidipes, a single specimen of mushroom that scientists consider to be the largest living organism on Earth. Known colloquially as the “Humungous Fungus,” the Malheur National Forest resident measures approximately 2,400 acres (though the bulk of its area exists underground) and is between 2,000 and 8,000 years old.
9. But Oregon also abides by the “good things come in small packages” dictum. In 1971, the state became the proud recipient of a Guinness World Record for the smallest park on the planet. The tiny Mill Ends Park stands proud in Portland with a 452 square inch area, hosting little more than a hole filled with hand-planted flowers … though locals swear that the diminutive locale is home to an elusive leprechaun. In 2012, Great Britain challenged the record on the grounds that an area so small couldn’t appropriately be deemed a park, insisting that the true victor of the title is the two-feet-in-diameter Prince’s Park in Burntwood, Staffordshire. But the ruling went unchanged, as it was determined that a plot of land need neither trees nor benches to be called a park … just leprechauns.
10. Oregon may also be home to the world’s shortest river, although that also depends on whom you ask. Up until 1989, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Oregon’s D River, which spans only 440 feet, as the world's shortest river. However, once the state of Montana brought its own 201-foot Roe River to the book’s attention, the honor was passed over. But Oregon did not give up. Following the shift, citizens of Lincoln City took it upon themselves to wait until a remarkably high tide to again measure the D River, calculating the length at just 120 feet. All was ultimately for naught, unfortunately, as Guinness discontinued its documentation of shortest rivers in 2006.
11. If movies have taught us anything about the FBI, it’s that discretion is a characteristic of great merit. And yet there’s something about a 26-foot-tall rabbit-man hybrid that doesn’t exactly scream “inconspicuous.” Nevertheless, marine retail salesman Ed Harvey’s store mascot—the aforementioned fiberglass giant that stands roadside in Aloha, Oregon—has been an alleged meeting ground for federal agents … and the source of nightmares for many a local child.
12. Oregon plays a part in a number of Nickelodeon cartoons. The cult series Angry Beavers is set explicitly in the fictional rural city of Wayoutatown, Oregon, and the ever popular Hey Arnold! drew inspiration from its creator’s upbringing in Portland (combining elements of the city with New York and Seattle). Additionally, CatDog is suggested to have based its fictional Nearberg on the Northwestern state.
13. If you’re look for a West Coast pen pal, Oregon’s Barbara Blackburn should be a speedy correspondent. In 2005, the Guinness Book of World Records named the Salem writer the fastest English language typist in the world; she can maintain a rapid 150 words per minute for 50-minute spans. Her fastest recorded speed was the impressive 212 words per minute (just over three-and-a-half words per second).
14. A tip of the hat to Portland for its impressive beer scene. Strewn throughout Oregon’s hip metropolis are more breweries than any other city in the world has to its name—56 in the city itself, and 76 in the Portland metropolitan area.
15. And all that drinking is actually for a good cause! Portland is home to the world’s first non-profit pub, Oregon Public House, that donates its income to a variety of charities all in the name of (their joke, not ours) “ale-truism.”