Think Oregon

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Ken Kesey

Ken Kesey The Claim Kesey is Oregon’s most influential author The Reality Indeed, Kesey put the state on the literary map, plus some. Even though Ken Kesey garnered much of his fame outside Oregon—as the ringleader of the Merry Prankster psychedelic experimentation in Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool Aid Acid Test and as the author of the acclaimed One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest—the state will always claim him as its own. Kesey moved to a farm in Pleasant Hill with his family when he was a boy, before attending Springfield High School and the University of Oregon. He went on to write many novels throughout his lifetime, including Sometimes a Great Notion, about the Oregon logging industry. “I can’t think of a book that better describes the beauty and richness of Oregon,” says Keri Aronson, director of development for the University of Oregon library. “It’s a very wordy tough read,…

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Timber

Timber The Claim Oregon was once a mighty timber supplier, but those days are long gone. The Reality The heyday is over, but the state is still the number one lumber producer in the country. Oregon is known for its trees, and rightfully so. Forests cover about half of the state, for a total of 30.5 million acres. That’s about how many acres of forest existed here thirty years ago, says Paul Barnum, executive director of the Oregon Forest Research Institute in Portland. “It’s also estimated there’s as much wood growing in Oregon forests today as in the early 1950s, and that’s no accident,” he says. “The Oregon Forests Practices Act requires reforestation after harvest, plus the state has a unique system of land-use laws that have protected forests.” All those trees have helped make Oregon the number one lumber producer in the United States, accounting for 18 percent of…

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Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts The Claim Oregon is one of the world’s top hazelnut producers. The Reality Although Oregon grows 99.9 percent of the hazelnuts in the United States, the crop makes up just 5 percent of global production. Let’s face it, Oregon will never be Turkey. About 80 percent of the world’s hazelnuts are grown in that Mediterranean country. Still, Oregon produces almost all the hazelnuts—also known as filberts—grown stateside. (Washington state grows the other 0.01percent.) Last year, 30,000 acres of hazelnut trees produced 39,000 tons of nuts in Oregon. Seventy percent of the crop was exported, with most of it going to China, a country with a penchant for snacking on hazelnuts. Another notable buyer of the Oregon crop? The Italy-based Ferrero Group, which makes Nutella and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Hazelnut grower Don Christensen, who farms 500 acres of trees in the Amity area, says Oregon has yet to produce enough…

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Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast The Claim Oregon claims a unique coastline of entirely public beaches. The Reality Every mile of beach along the state’s coastline is public, but we’re not alone. While Oregon deserves bragging rights for its 363 miles of public beaches—the entire length of the state’s coastline—our friends in Hawaii enjoy the same access. Hawaii is the only other state in the country with a coastline accessible to anyone willing to walk in the sand. In Oregon, beaches became public property in 1967 when the “Beach Bill” passed the Oregon State legislature and was subsequently signed into law by Governor Tom McCall. McCall finished what Governor Oswald West began in 1913, designating all coastal beaches as public roads. “No one can actually own the beach,” says Lucy Gibson, public relations director at the Oregon Coast Visitors Association. “Everyone should be allowed to enjoy it, not just the person with the…

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Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir The Claim Oregon is the pinnacle of Pinot noir. The Reality The state is trumped in acreage by California and in reputation by France, yet still claims some of the highest-rated Pinot noirs in the world. Ever since David Lett’s Oregon Pinot noir placed third in a tasting in Paris in 1979, the world has thirsted for New World wines made from the hard-to-grow, cool-climate grape. Lett and other early Oregon Pinot pioneers produced wines with delicate perfumed profiles and characteristics other domestic producers weren’t replicating. “At the time, Oregon emerged as a leader because California wasn’t very good at making Pinot noirs,” says Harvey Steiman, editor at large for Wine Spectator. “Ever since then, Pinot noir has been Oregon’s defining grape.” Tastes shifted after the 1970s, and many of the burgeoning Oregon Pinot producers opted to make fuller-bodied, riper wines, especially during the 1990s. Steiman observes that…

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Beer

Beer The Claim Oregon is beer central. The Reality Only if you’re talking about craft beer. Oregon can’t claim the greatest volume of beer production in the country. Those distinctions go to states with behemoth Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors Brewing operations. Oregonians, however, seem to prefer quality to quantity when it comes to the brewed beverage. “Oregon is the craft beer capital of the United States,” explains Brian Butenschoen, executive director of the Oregon Brewers Guild. “We have the highest percentage of dollars spent on craft beer. We’re the second largest producer, and Portland has fifty-one breweries—more than any other city in the world.” Last year a tracking group reported that 40 percent of money spent on beer in Oregon supermarkets went to craft beer, the highest percentage ever recorded in the country. And while Portland is Beervana—the hub of the state’s craft brewing movement—fifty-eight other towns in the state…

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U.S. 30: The River’s Road

Highway 30 runs from the industrial parks of west Portland to the beautiful coastal community of Astoria.

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Where Are They Now?

Where Are They Now? Pregnant man Thomas Beatie, the transgendered man who made headlines for birthing a child in 2007, now lives in Arizona where he filed for divorce from his wife this year. He has a total of three kids, but he recently told tabloids he’d like to have more kids with his new girlfriend. Balloon man This past July, Kent Couch and co-pilot, Fareed Lafta, flew thirty miles of the 500 they hoped to cover while sitting in lawn chairs propelled by helium-filled balloons. The daring duo landed safely, and Couch still runs a Shell gas station in Bend—with 30 microbrews on tap. He hopes to return to the air. Portlandia The sketch comedy series starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein has produced two seasons with at least one more in the bag. Season three includes appearances from actor Chloë Sevigny as Fred and Carrie’s roommate. Bhagwan Shree…