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Road to Statehood

Portland street, 1859

Portland street, 1859

Oregon Historical Society

In 1859, Oregon became the 33rd state in the Union.  Road to Statehood celebrates Oregon’s150th birthday by exploring the lives of Native peoples already living here, the mountain men and fur trappers who came for adventure and wealth, and the pioneers who brought their hopes and prejudices with them over the Oregon Trail.

Oregon celebrates its 150th birthday in 2009.   It’s a story filled with mountain men and fur trappers, missionaries and pioneers who brought their hopes and prejudices over the Oregon Trail.

For thousands of years, hundreds of Native tribes had thrived in what became known as Oregon Country – a vast and wild land that stretched north into present day British Columbia, south to California and east to the Rockies.   Oregon Country’s rich supply of beaver pelts spawned a huge fur-trading network dominated by the British Hudson’s Bay Company at Ft. Vancouver.   A joint treaty allowed both the United States and Great Britain to occupy the land.

But Oregon Fever would change the landscape forever.  Thousands of Euro-Americans lured to the fertile – and free — agricultural land of the Willamette Valley migrated West. They soon dominated Oregon Country pushing the Native tribes, already decimated by diseases, onto marginal lands.   

In 1843 a critical vote at the settlement of Champoeg led to the organization of a provisional government in the region –the first American government west of the Mississippi.

Road to Statehood explores Oregon’s turbulent path to becoming the 33rd state in the Union.




William G. Robbins, Oregon, This Storied Land

Caroline C. Dobbs, Men of Champoeg

John Seigenthaler, James K. Polk

anice Marschner, Oregon 1859 a Snapshot in Time



Oregon History by Stephen Dow Beckham

Oregon Blue Book 2005-2006

Slaves and Free Men: Blacks in the Oregon Country, 1840 -1860

Quintard Taylor, Oregon Historical Quarterly 83:2 (Summer, 1982).


Web sites

Oregon Historical Society

Friends of Historic Champoeg

McLoughlin House

Whitman Mission National Historic Site

Ft. Vancouver National Historic Site

Cascade Geographic Society

Crafting the Oregon Constitution: framework for a new state

 Historic Oregon City

Broadcast Date: July 26, 2011

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Road to Statehood