Now Playing:


Oregon Experience

Tom McCall

Tom McCall in Office

Tom McCall in Office

Oregon Historical Society

Tom McCall, Oregon’s chief executive from 1967 to 1975, may go down in history as the state’s most productive governor. He was certainly the most interesting.

Nearly forty years after he left office and thirty years after his death, Oregon Governor Tom McCall remains one of the state’s most renowned political figures. He envisioned a quality of environment and life unique to Oregon, and he worked relentlessly to protect those values.

A longtime journalist, McCall understood story-telling. He knew how to convey an idea in ways people would understand and remember. He was good at theatrics. And he made things happen.

McCall’s bold achievements set a new standard for the rest of the nation: The Beach Bill and the Bottle Bill, the SB100 land-use law, the Willamette River cleanup and the reinvention of Portland’s waterfront — all of these emerged from the McCall years.

More than any other single person, Tom McCall helped shape the “Oregon” that we know today.




Brent Walth, ‘Fire at Eden’s Gate: Tom McCall and the Oregon Story’

Tom Marsh, ‘To the Promised Land: A History Of Government and Politics In Oregon’

Tom McCall, with Steve Neal, ‘Tom McCall: Maverick’

Dorothy Lawson McCall, ‘Ranch Under the Rimrock’



“Letter From Oregon”

E. J. Kahn, The New Yorker, February 25, 1974


Web sites

Tom McCall: A Better Oregon

Broadcast Date: March 19, 2013

More Oregon Experience

Send Oregon Experience A Message

Related Content

Tom McCall's Way With Words

Tom McCall knew journalism (he was a journalist for 20-plus years!), he knew how to tell a story, and he loved words. No wonder he was on television and in the newspaper almost daily. Brent Walth, Russell Sadler, and Doris Penwell, Tom McCall's executive secretary, describe his unique ability to use words to his political advantage.

Tom McCall's Funeral

McCall's funeral took place in the State Capitol building. He had requested that it not be by-invitation-only, but that anyone could come. An overflow crowd attended the ceremony. McCall biographer Brent Walth describes the day.

Tom McCall on Gun Control

In June, 1968 ? just months after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy ? McCall expressed his position on gun control legislation. his arguments sounded much like those still being made today.

Tom McCall's Environmental Legacy

Brent Walth is the author of "Fire at Eden's Gate," the biography of Tom McCall. Walth says McCall tried to draw attention to national and international environmental issues years before the public paid any attention to them.

Tom McCall on Fluoridation

The debate over water fluoridation is not new. Here, Oregon Governor Tom McCall makes his case for fluoridating Oregon's water supplies, at a legislative committee meeting in February 1969. The bill being debated at this meeting did not pass.