Salem, Oregon, Shares Its Pioneering History

The Salem area’s pioneering spirit has created an intriguing capital city and extremely diverse region within Oregon’s Marion and Polk counties. What helps make the Salem region “The Most Oregon Part of Oregon” are the historic attractions that paint the picture of Oregon’s earliest settlers who made the arduous trek across the Oregon Trail in search of “Eden.” They found exactly what they were looking for in Oregon’s lush and fertile Mid-Willamette Valley and the Salem region. 

Today Oregon’s history is lovingly preserved in charming sites throughout the region that welcome visitors and share Oregon’s pioneer experiences, such as: 

  • The Oregon State Capitol holds the key to Oregon’s history. Built in 1938, Oregon’s third Capitol (the first two buildings burned), features Greek marble throughout and beautiful murals that depict the history of Oregon. Atop the dome sits the “Gold Pioneer”¾an eight-and-a-half-ton bronze statue with gold leaf finish.  
  • Willamette Heritage Center preserves three 1840s Mission houses and a 19th-century woolen mill; the Museum interprets Western Oregon’s settlement and industry. 
  • Bush House Museum, built in 1878 by Asahel Bush II, is an Italianate-style Victorian mansion and conservatory in Bush’s Pasture Park that features changing exhibits, original fine art and furnishings. 
  • Historic Deepwood Estate, an 1894 Queen Anne Victorian, located on 4.5 acres of historic gardens and nature trails, features exquisite stained glass and golden oak woodwork. The nature trails were designed by Lord and Schryver, the Northwest’s first women-owned landscape architecture firm. 
  • Champoeg State Heritage Area is considered the “Birthplace of Oregon Government.” Champoeg is the site of the May 2, 1843 vote to form Oregon’s Provisional Government—the first government in the Pacific Northwest. 
  • Mt. Angel Abbey, set high above Mt. Angel on a 300-foot bluff, is a century old monastic community built in 1883 by the Benedictine monks. 
  • The Wheatland Ferry and the Buena Vista Ferry continue to transport cars, farm equipment, agricultural products, pedestrians and cyclists across the Willamette River daily.  
  • The Gallon House is Oregon’s oldest covered bridge. It was named for the days when liquor was sold by the gallon or quart in a nearby house and tucked under the bridge for distribution. 



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