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Five Important Historical Sites to Visit in Oregon

1. Fort Astoria (Fort George). Located in northwest Oregon, in the town of Astoria, on the shores of the Columbia River, not far off of Highway 101, you can find a small city park commemorating Fort Astoria, also known as Fort Astor... and later, Fort George. Named after the John Jacob Astor of the Pacific Fur Company, and built in 1811, the fort became the first U.S. permanent settlement west of the Rocky Mountains, and was used primary as a fur trading post. Just a few years later, the North West Company (a Canadian trading company) bought out the Pacific Fur Company and renamed it Fort George; in 1821, Hudson's Bay Company bought out the North West Company and consolidated trading operations at Fort Vancouver. Today, you can find an exhibit and murals in a small park in Astoria, but the bulk of the fort site sits under roadways, residential and commercial structures, parking lots, parks, and private yards. While in Astoria, be sure and also visit the 4,300-acre Fort Stevens Park, as well as the Lewis and Clark Historical Park.

2. Jacksonville. Located in southwestern Oregon, about 5 miles west of Medford, this old gold mining town is named after Jackson Creek, which runs through the community -- and which was the site of one of the first placer gold claims ion the area. Visitors to this quaint small town, called "one of America's Top 10 Coolest Small Towns," by Frommers, will find a quiet and slow pace in the downtown filled with shops, boutiques, and interesting restaurants, as well the opportunity to enjoy local southern Oregon wines, with six wine tasting rooms within a mile of downtown. The town began in 1851 when gold was first discovered, and originally named Table Rock City because of the view of two mesas about 10 miles from town. Amazingly, the town thrived to not only become the county seat, but the second largest city in the state -- until the railroad passed it by. Today, you can stroll through a downtown filled with buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. More details at the official Website: Jacksonville, Oregon.

3. Lewis and Clark National Historical Park at Fort Clatsop. Located just outside of the historic town of Astoria, Oregon, on the northwest tip of the state along the Columbia River, relive the story of America's famous explorers Lewis and Clark by visiting the site of their 1805-1806 winter encampment after traveling across the country to the mouth of the Columbia River. The group was sponsored by the U.S. government, with President Thomas Jefferson personally choosing Lewis to lead the expedition into the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. Located along the Lewis & Clark River, at the north end of the Clatsop Plains, the fort served as the last resting stop before the group, known as the Corps of Discovery, headed back to St. Louis. The U.S. Parks Service operates this facility, in conjunction with companion state parks in Oregon and Washington. The original Fort Clatsop has long since disappeared from decay, but a replica was built in 1955 -- and later rebuilt in 2006 -- from sketches in the journal of William Clark. More details at the official Website: Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.

4. National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center & The End of the Oregon Trail Interpretative Center. Located in east-central Oregon, about six miles northeast of Baker City, atop Flagstaff Hill, this 23,000-square-foot center offers living history demonstrations, interpretative exhibits, and multimedia presentations, and is operated by the Bureau of Land Management in partnership with Trail Tenders and the Oregon trail Preservation Trust. Outside the center, you'll find neatly seven miles of well-preserved Oregon Trail ruts that extend across the Virtue Flat and showcase where emigrants fought their way through shoulder-height sagebrush after pushing through 4 to 5 days ascending the Burnt River... in their push to reach the Powder River, a tributary of the Snake River, and across the Grande Ronde Valley, before crossing over the Blue Mountains and continuing their journey to Oregon City and the Willamette Valley. Well worth a visit to this amazing piece of American history. More details at the official Website: National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

5. Tillamook Air Museum. Located at the Tillamook Airport in northwest Oregon, about 75 west of Portland, this aviation museum includes an aircraft collection housed in a former U.S. Navy World War II blimp hanger called Hangar B -- one of the world's largest clear-span wooden structures in the world at 1,072 feet long and 296 feet wide (making its area about 7 acres). Hangar A was destroyed by fire in 1992. Besides the aircraft, you'll also find a gift shop and cafe. Some of the aircraft include: Bell TH-57 helicopter, Cesna 180F Skywagon, Douglas A4-B Skyhawk, Erco Ercoupe 415-C, Fairchild Gk-1, Grumman F-14A Tomcat, C-27A Spartan, A-26C Invader. Admission Fee. More details at the official Website: Tillamook Air Museum.

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