Marion County Oregon

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Marion County, Oregon lies in the northwest quadrant of the state--shaped something like a ball-peen hammer on its side, or, if you prefer, a half of a dog-bone treat. Home to the state capital of Salem, population 150,000, the county was established on July 5, 1843. The district was first named Champooick, then Champoeg, and finally Marion--after the Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion--in 1856. It originally stretched to the California border and the Pacific Ocean.

Welcome to Marion County, Oregon

Reduced to its present size in 1856, Marion County encompasses almost 1,200 square miles. It is home to 20 cities and a population of nearly 300,000. Although agriculture and the food industry are important in Marion, government remains the backbone of the county's economy.

Among the local lore is that Willamette University in Salem is the Pacific Northwest's oldest institution of higher learning, having been founded as the Oregon Institute by missionary Jason Lee in 1842. It also established the first school of medicine in 1863, and the first law school in 1888. Marion County, Oregon's magnificent Second French Empire courthouse, built in 1873, was sadly destroyed--despite the efforts of historical preservationists--in 1954.

As a place to call home, Marion County, Oregon is a marvelous choice. Its rich and long history aside, the entire Willamette Valley surrounding it is rich in natural beauties, abundant in state parks, and recreational opportunities. Flanked on one side by the Coastal Range and on the other by the Cascades, the valley is dotted with public gardens, vineyards, and covered bridges. The ragged and beautiful Pacific coast lies only an hour's drive away from most of the county.


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