Oregon United States
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Oregon, United States

June 7, 2005

The destination of one of the most famous pioneer trails in United States history, Oregon is a state of intense natural beauty situated on the Pacific Ocean. Along the western side, from the coast to the Cascade Range, abundant rainfall and mild temperatures make for verdant forests and one of the most fertile valleys in the United States: the Willamette Valley, which produces apples, dairy products, potatoes, peppermint, and wine in great abundance. Its extensive forests were for many years a major, though controversial, source of timber; today, forest fires, over-harvesting, and lawsuits over how to properly manage the resources have dropped production to less than half of 1970s levels.

In the eastern 3/5ths of the state, the climate changes dramatically to arid plateau and desert. The ancient Columbia River Plateau covers much of eastern Oregon - starting nearly 23 million years ago, basalt lava began pouring out of a giant volcanic eruption in the Earth's crust, and continued for 10 to 15 million years. Eventually, the plateau reached 1.8 kilometers (about 6,000 feet) in height, and covered parts of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

Three of Oregon's cities are visible in this true-color Terra MODIS image from May 24, 2005. Portland, the state's largest city, is on the Oregon border with Washington on the Willamette River. Eugene appears halfway down the wide ribbon of green on the western side of the state. Between Eugene and Portland is the state capital, Salem. All are visible as spidery grey patches on the landscape.

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