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Name Salem
Salem, Oregon , United States
Born Unknown
Last ModifedBensq1
Apr 30, 2020 08:31pm
InfoSalem, the state capital city, is Oregon's second largest city, with a population of approximately 135,000. Salem is also the county seat of Marion County. However, a small portion of Salem within its incorporated limits of 44 square miles lies across the Willamette River (Historical Note) in Polk County. This is referred to as "West Salem".
Salem is located in the center of the Willamette Valley...one of the most fertile and agriculturally productive regions of the world...47 miles south of Portland and 64 miles north of Eugene, Salem serves as the hub of both state government and the surrounding farming communities.

State government is this city's largest employer, with approximately 13,000 full-time employees, 38 of the largest state agencies and more than 20 smaller ones located in the immediate area. Salem is also a major agricultural food processing center.

Salem is one of Oregon's oldest communities. The Indian name for the locality was Chemeketa, said to mean "meeting or resting place." It may also have been the name of one of the bands of Calapooya Indians. In 1840-41, the Jason Lee Mission was moved from the Willamette River upstream to a site on Mill Creek.

In 1842, the missionaries established the Oregon Institute. When the mission was dissolved in 1844, it was decided to lay out a townsite on the Institute lands. Either David Leslie, one of the trustees who came to Oregon from Salem, Mass., or W. H. Willson, who filed plats in 1850-51 for what is now the main part of the city, selected the name "Salem." Salem is the anglicized form of the hebrew word Shalom, meaning peace. *

The location of the Oregon capital caused a spirited contest that lasted nearly 15 years. By an act of 1851, the provisional government moved the capital to Salem from Oregon City; in 1855 it was moved to Corvallis, only to move back to Salem the same year. Destruction of the Capitol at Salem on December 31, 1855, was considered an incendiary part of this controversy.

The close proximity of government provides Salem citizens with a distinct opportunity to be involved in the decision-making processes of the state. The citizens of Salem also have a long history of commitment to community improvement and volunteerism...a commitment recognized nationally through presentation of two All-America City Awards, one for 1960-61 and more recently for 1982-83.

* Early Salem history from Oregon Geographic Names, by Lewis A. McArthur.


Title Purchase Contributor

Start Date End Date Type Title Contributor

Date Category Headline Article Contributor
Oct 19, 2004 12:00am Event In Salem [OR], Moore grills opponents  Article InspectorMorse 

Importance? 0.00000 Average


  06/01/1855 OR State Capitol Selection Won 100.00% (+100.00%)