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1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Oregon

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OREGON (see 20.242[1]). The pop. of Oregon in 1920 was 783,380 as against 672,756 in 1910, an increase of 110,624 or 16.4% as compared with an increase of 62.7% during the preceding decade. The average number of inhabitants to the sq. m. in 1920 was 8.2 as against 7 in 1910. The sparsely settled areas, other than the national forests, are the plateau region of the south-eastern counties and the extreme south-western county. In all the south-eastern counties, excepting Malheur county lying along the Snake river, there was a decrease in pop. during the decade. The density of the rural pop. in the nine south-eastern counties, comprising an area of .47,737 sq. m., or about one-half the state, was less than 2 per sq. mile. The urban pop. of the 23 cities and towns with more than 2,500 inhabitants each numbered 391,019 or 49.9% of the total pop. as against 45.6% in 1910. The farm pop. in 1920 was 293,432 or 37.5% of the total in the state; in 1910, 41 per cent.

The following are the cities of over 7,000 inhabitants with their pop. in 1920 and 1910 and percentage of increase for the decade:—

1920 1910  Increase 
per cent




 Astoria 14,027  9,599  46.1 
 Baker 7,729  6,742  14.6 
 Eugene 10,593  9,009  17.6 
 Pendleton  7,387  4,460  65.6 
 Portland  258,288   207,214   24.6 
 Salem 17,679  14,094  25.4 


Forestry.—The total wooded area of the state in 1920 was 41,111 sq. m., or 43% of the land area; there were 14 national forests with a total area of 24,086 sq. miles. However, as some of the lands within the boundaries of the national forests are privately owned or classified as chiefly valuable for agricultural purposes and open to homestead entry, the net area of national forest lands June 30 1920 was 20,472 sq. m., or 13,106,676 acres. Broadly speaking, the national forests cover the Cascade range, the Coast range, the Blue Mountains, and other mountainous areas. From the coast to the eastern base of the Cascade Mountains the state is heavily timbered, except for the farming lands and clearings in the Willamette, Rogue river and other minor valleys. The conservation policy carried out through the establishment of national forests had in view not only permanent forestry but also the protection of the water-supply for power, irrigation, navigation and domestic uses. While the large forest area of the state gives Oregon one-fifth of the standing timber in the country, it also ensures it 11% of the total hydro-electric power capable of development. The estimate for the state is a potential maximum of 6,500,000 H.P. and a minimum of 3,000,000 H.P. The reservation of the national forest areas does not preclude large utilization for stock-raising. The east slope of the Cascade Mountains and the mountainous regions of the eastern part of the state are grazed by both sheep and cattle, over 2,900 permits being issued by the Forest Service in 1920 for 120,000 head of cattle and 690,000 sheep. The seasons for grazing in the forests are comparatively short, but the feed is excellent and is available at a time when the live stock must be removed from farm lands to permit crops to grow, and therefore these Government-owned ranges are an economic asset of much importance.

Agriculture.—Of the total land area of the state 22.1 %, or 13,542,318 ac., were included in 1920 in the 50,206 farms. Of this land, 36-5% was improved. There was an increase during the decade of 10.37% in the number of farms, 15% in their total acreage and 14.9% in the improved acreage. The personnel operating the farms included 49,633 white farmers and 573 of non-white races. Of the white farmers 40,484 were native and 9,149 were foreign-born, 31,569 of the native white farmers being owners, 802 managers and 8,113 tenants. The 573 non-white farmers included 15 negroes, 300 Indians, 224 Japanese and 34 Chinese; 358 were owners, 8 managers and 207 tenants. Eighty-one per cent of the Oregon farms were operated by the owners. During the decade 1910-20 the value of the farm property increased 55%; of land and buildings 48.2%; implements and machinery 214.8%; and live stock 71.2%. The average value of land and buildings per farm was $13,449 as compared with $10,012 in 1910; the value of the land alone per acre was in 1920 $43.29 as against $35.23 in 1910. Of the farms from which mortgage reports were obtained the mortgage debt was 31.2% of their value as against 22.6% in 1910. The average rate of interest paid was 6.5%. In 1910 33.7% of all farms operated by their owners were mortgaged while in 1920 the proportion had risen to 49.7%. The debt per farm was $3,622 in 1920. The crop values in 1920 were 192.7%. higher than in 1910. The conspicuous increases were in the production of forage, of ensilage, and of fruits of every kind adapted to Oregon conditions. In 1920 the principal field crops with their values were as follows:—

 Winter wheat   $33,213,659 
 Spring wheat 9,366,703 
 Oats 8,162,649 
 Barley 2,503,536 
 Potatoes 7,829,867 
 Corn 2,429,132 
 Rye 1,778,474 
 Hay 32,906,225 
 Hops 3,960,000 

The total field crops were worth $106,185,746.

The principal fruits raised, with their values, were as follows:—

 Apples  $3,210,653 
 Pears 1,236,980 
 Prunes 4,126,950 
 Cherries 1,234,500 
 Loganberries 1,953,720 
 Strawberries 1,260,000 
 Raspberries and blackberries  1,800,000 
 Nuts 600,000 

The total for all fruit was $15,787,803.

The numbers and values of domestic animals were as follows: 

 Horses and mules  286,000   $23,266,000 
 Milch cows 205,000  15,375,000 
 Other cattle 651,000  24,412,000 
 Sheep  2,270,000  15,663,000 
 Swine 272,000  3,482,000 


Mining.—The production of gold was $633,407 in 1911, but increased to $1,902,179 in 1916, to drop again to slightly over one million dollars in 1919. Silver to the value of $250,597 was produced in 1919. The copper output in 1919 amounted to 2,808,017 lb. fine. Iron has been mined and smelted in Clackamas county and considerable bodies of a good grade of limonite have been discovered and are being developed in the northern Coast range in Columbia county. Some manganese was produced during the World War, the chief occurrence being manganese oxides in a reddish volcanic tuff in Jackson county. The production of chrome ore was also stimulated by the war conditions and an output of 18,454 long tons of chromite brought $855,050. Nickel ore occurs in Douglas county and both tungsten ores and molybdenite in Wallowa and Baker counties. Although there are coal outcroppings in different sections of the state the output in 1918 had dropped to 13,328 short tons. Common clay wares in 1918 brought $232,564.

Industries.—Oregon has two important advantages for manufacturing: an abundance of such raw materials as timber, live stock, wool, wheat and fruit, and also readily available hydro-electric power. A relatively high transportation cost to reach a large body of consumers has been the factor handicapping development. In 1914 Oregon's manufactured products were valued at $109,761,951 and the average number of wage-earners employed was 28,829. The chief industries arranged in order of value of products were lumber and timber products, slaughtering and meat-packing, dairy products, printing and publishing, canning and preserving. The annual lumber production is from 2,250,000,000 ft. to 3,000,000,000 ft. and is rapidly growing. During the war, in connexion with the emergency shipbuilding programme, 44 steel hulls, with a total tonnage of 345,700 dead-weight, were launched and 13 hulls were on the ways. Beginning with the launchings in 1916, by Dec. 31 1918 145 wooden hulls, with a total tonnage of 446,100 dead-weight, were placed in the water and 50 hulls were on the ways.

Transportation.—The marked improvement in transportation facilities during the decade 1910-20 comprised the opening of the main waterways, extension of the railways so that the mileage increased by more than one-half, and a relatively extensive construction of highways. With the completion of the Celilo canal by the Federal Government in 1915 the Columbia and its tributary, the Snake, were made navigable to Lewiston, Idaho. Through the construction of this canal above the city of The Dalles a fall of 80 ft. in a stretch of 9 m. was overcome. With the transference to the national Government in 1915 of the canal and locks around the Willamette Falls at Oregon City, the free use of the upper Willamette was secured. As already stated, the cooperation of the Federal Government and the port of Portland secured a deep-water channel in the Columbia from Portland to the sea. The railway construction during the decade has provided: (1) lines to the Pacific coast, from Portland to Tillamook and from Eugene to Coos Bay; (2) extensions into central Oregon with parallel lines up the Deschutes river to Bend and westward from Vale in the Snake river valley; (3) construction on the gap between Natron and Klamath Falls as part of a double line for Oregon-California traffic; (4) electric lines from Portland to Eugene and from Corvallis to Eugene. The railway mileage in the state in 1910 was 2,413.61; in 1920 3,626.77.

The total of the sums apportioned to Oregon for highway construction by the Federal Government was $6,206,799.27. Bond issues by the state for the construction of a state highway system were authorized, beginning with the year 1917, to the amount of $40,000,000. During the biennium 1919-20 the cost of state highway work under construction was $28,479,981.94. Appropriations for market roads by the state of nearly another million were matched by the counties with an equal amount. In the amount of state funds available for highway work in 1920 Oregon stood fourth among all the states. In 1920 counties were authorized to issue bonds to the limit of 6% of assessed valuation for highway improvement, and since 1913 32 counties have bonded themselves for $17,599,704.

Education.—Oregon ranks second among the states measured by the collective educational standard of the Russell Sage Foundation. As this standing was attained with relative expenditures below those of 25 other states, it indicates a high standard of service among teachers and careful administration by school officials. The minimum length of the school sessions has been extended to eight months for every district. The amount of money which the poorest district in the state must have for school expenditures was in 1921 $940. The requirements for certification to teach in the elementary grades include the work of a standard high school and in addition an elementary teachers' training course. After 1925 the teacher will be required to have had one year of normal-school work in addition to high-school preparation. In 1920 the total enrolment of grade and high-school pupils was 148,412, of whom 22,954 were in high schools. As the pop. of the state was 783,380, nearly 19% were in school; and 2.9% of the entire pop., or 15.4% of the school pop., were enrolled

in high school. The largest city, Portland, leads all cities of the nation with 3.6% of its pop. in high school.

History.—The percentage of Oregon's contributions of men to the World War without awaiting the operation of the selective service law was the highest among the states. The ratio of its enlistments to the first gross quota was 157.84 per cent.

During 1910-20, recourse was freely had to the “Oregon System” of direct legislation to enact projects of constitutional amendment and statutory law. A total of 174 proposals was submitted to the people through initiative petition, referendum petition or by vote of the Legislature and 73 were approved.

The people of Oregon by this procedure established prohibition, woman suffrage and the rural credit system. Citizenship qualification for the franchise, the right to veto single items in appropriation bills, the abolition of the poll tax, classification of property for taxation, and state-wide limitation of the rate of increase of taxation and indebtedness were also thus enacted. But the most striking achievement through this procedure by popular vote was the regular and liberal support of institutions of higher education as well as of the public schools in the form of continuing state millage taxes. These were granted by an overwhelming majority vote of the people. There has been a change in the attitude of the people with respect to direct legislation; a project submitted by vote of the Legislative Assembly has fared better in recent years than one submitted by initiative petition. Clearly demonstrated advisability is required to secure the approval of an initiated project, whereas originally there was a prejudice in favour of such a measure. Probably the most important new departure has been the liberal authorization of the use of the public credit, both state and county, for road-building, of the credit of port districts for harbour improvement, and of the credit of irrigation and drainage districts and of deforested land districts for reclamation. Additional legislation included the establishment of the minimum wage, workmen's compensation, “blue sky law,” licensing sales of corporation securities, and widow pensioning.

While three-fifths of the voters usually vote with the Republican party, so that as a rule only 10 or 12 Democrats are elected to any Legislative Assembly, the representative leaders of the Oregon public during 1910-20 were two Democrats, George E. Chamberlain as U.S. senator and Oswald West as governor. Mr. Chamberlain was promoted from the governorship to the Senate; and in the Senate he was distinguished for his independence, especially during the war as chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs. Oswald West, as governor (1911-5), deserves high credit for leadership in achieving much of the progressive legislation enacted during this period, and for his administration of the state penitentiary and the selection of those placed in charge of other state institutions; also for his application of the honour system among convicts and his insistence on a regimen of industry and cleanliness in the Oregon penitentiary.

During the decade 1910-20 the people of Oregon began to demand more active progress in their state government. While there had been before 1910 a half-hearted venture in railway regulation, later repudiated, and institutions of higher education had been receiving meagre support for some decades, the spirit of the constitution of 1857 was still dominant. That document had been drafted by men with whom the disastrous experiences of the Mississippi valley states in canal and railway building with borrowed money were fresh in mind. In recent years, however, the desire of an early realization in Oregon of an adequate highway system, and the assured prospect of regular revenues from automobile licences, led to the authorization in 1917 of a state bond issue for the building of a state highway system. The limit then fixed was 2% of the assessed valuation. This limit was raised in 1920 to 4% for the state. With the bonds voted by the Legislature at the 1921 session this limit was reached. The counties are authorized to borrow up to 6% of assessed valuation to secure funds for highway improvement. Oregon's contribution to the U. S. forces in the World War was 41,671 officers and men, and the amount raised in Liberty and Victory loans $28,409,350.

The recent governors were: Oswald West (Dem.) 1911-5; James Withycombe (Rep.) 1915-. (F. G. Y.)


  1. These figures indicate the volume and page number of the previous article.