10 Facts About Willamette Valley


Valley's numerous waterways, particularly the Willamette River, are vital to the economy of Oregon, as they continuously deposit highly fertile alluvial soils across its broad, flat plain.

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Much of the Willamette Valley's fertility is derived from a series of massive ice-age floods that came from Lake Missoula in Montana and scoured across Eastern Washington, sweeping its topsoil down the Columbia River Gorge.

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Some geologists suggest that the Willamette Valley flooded in this manner multiple times during the last ice age.

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Climate of the Willamette Valley is a mix of Mediterranean and oceanic (Koppen Cfb) influences.

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Not all portions of the Willamette Valley are suitable for vineyards, however, and the largest concentration of wineries is found west of the Willamette River, on the leeward slopes of the Coast Range, or among the numerous river and stream valleys created by Willamette River tributaries.

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Human habitation in the Willamette Valley is estimated to have begun between 6, 000 and 10, 000 years ago.

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Kalapuya, Chinook and Molala peoples of the Willamette Valley currently are included among the confederated tribes that make up the Grand Ronde and Siletz Nations.

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The Willamette Valley—served with its sawmills, lush productive farms, handy river transport network, and nearby timber and mineral resources—developed naturally as a cultural and major commercial hub, as the Oregon Country became the Oregon Territory.

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Willamette Valley was connected to California's Central Valley by the Siskiyou Trail.

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The first institution of higher learning on the West Coast, today's Willamette University, was founded in the valley at Salem by Jason Lee, one of the many Oregon missionaries who settled in the valley.

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