Salem Oregon

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Salem, Oregon is well enough known as the capital of the state. It is also one of Oregon's oldest communities. The Indian name for the area was Chemeketa, or meeting place, and may well have also been the name of one of the bands of Calapooia Indians, who lived along the Willamette when the settlers arrived. Salem was settled by in 1840-41, when a Christian mission was established on the site. When that was disbanded in 1842, the trustees of the mission decided to use the site for a town, duly and promptly platted out.

The best existing history suggests that it was named Salem either either by the man who filed the plats for the city in 1850-51, or by a mission trustee who came to Oregon from Salem, Massachusetts. Located about 50 miles south of Portland and 65 north of Eugene, Salem is the hub not only of state government but of the local Willamette Valley farming communities as well. Home to a population of approximately 150,000, Salem is Oregon's second largest city.

It is also the Marion County seat. Well situated in the heart of the valley, Salem, Oregon lies on the Willamette River, which flows north to Portland and the Columbia River from its source in the Cascades. As a place to live, you can't do too much better than Salem, Oregon! It is, among its other virtues, an art friendly town.

Salem, Oregon: Things to Do in Town

Among Salem's regular events are the Holiday of Lights Festival and the Oregon Food and Wine Festival. Local museums and theater keep to an active annual schedule of exhibits and performances. The Oregon Symphony in Salem, the CWERKS Theater Company, and the Salem Chamber Orchestra are but a few of the performing arts attractions.


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