6 Oregon Nicknames and the Stories Behind Them

5 min read

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A lighthouse on a headland near the ocean
Oregon's bountiful nature and rich history birthed many monikers

Known for its sprawling old-growth forests, cliff-lined coasts, and hip, eco-friendly cities, the State of Oregon is one of the most naturally scenic places in the United States. And with such a focus on being outdoors, it should come as no surprise that many Oregon nicknames come directly from nature.

From Oregon's official title as the Beaver State (beavers also made the list of state symbols as Oregon's official animal) to one of its oldest, the Webfoot State, there have been plenty of nicknames for the region throughout the years.

And it would be a shame not to mention Pacific Wonderland, a famous nickname (and one of the most popular car tag designs) about how Oregon is a proverbial playground for natural beauty and outdoor adventure.

In this article, you'll discover six of the most popular and intriguing nicknames for the State of Oregon, as well as the (sometimes obvious, sometimes not) stories behind them.

6 Nicknames for Oregon

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Aerial shot of a football stadium on a sunny day
Beavers, the state animal, are also the state university's name for its football team

Beaver State

Some of the first European settlers to come to the Oregon territory were fur trappers hunting beaver. At the height of the fur trade, more than 30,000 beaver furs were exported annually from present-day Oregon. The Beaver State evolved as a common Oregon name because of the animal's significance to early pioneers.

Unfortunately, fur hunters had reduced the North American beaver population to around 100,000 by the early 19th century. But thanks to legal protections and conservation efforts, that number is now at an estimated 15 million!

Today, the American beaver holds the distinction of being Oregon's state animal. At the same time, the Beaver State slogan is the official state nickname. Even the Oregon State University football team is named after the animal.

Webfoot State

When did the Webfoot State nickname come into popularity? No one is entirely sure. But there's a good chance it's the oldest Oregon slogan.

The nickname's origin is a little fuzzy, too. Still, most experts believe it comes from a group of Revolutionary War heroes called the Webfoots, whose descendants trekked west to Oregon in the 1840s.

Other speculation on the nickname's origin mentions how, in the early days, Californians would refer to their northern Oregonian neighbors as Webfoots because of the state's large amount of rain (and mud).

The University of Oregon even embraced the Webfoot State moniker in the early part of the 20th century. Throughout the first few decades of the 1900s (and maybe back as far as 1890), the university's sports teams were referred to as the Webfoots.

An islet in the middle of a lake surrounded by mountains and trees
Oregon is called the Pacific Wonderland for its many stunning nature spots

Pacific Wonderland

The Pacific Wonderland nickname is a nod to Oregon's reputation for scenic landscapes and diverse recreational activities. There are all sorts of outdoor adventures to be found throughout the state, from kayaking down the Deschutes River to hiking the trails of Crater Lake National Park, one of the most visited landmarks in Oregon.

Pacific Wonderland became famous as a slogan during the 1950s. It was even featured on Oregon license plates for five years, from 1959 to 1964. The Pacific Wonderland plates were among the most popular ever, so much so that the state decided to reissue a limited number of replica tags beginning in 2010.

A sign that says "Oregon Welcomes You" next to a road with cars and trees during rain
Because of the frequent rain, one of the Oregon nicknames is Wet-Foot State

Wet-Foot State

Oregon is known as the Wet-Foot State because of the large amount of precipitation that the region receives. Although it rains frequently in Oregon, the summer months, which are the driest of the year, offer a slight reprieve from the moisture.

But all bets are off in the fall and winter when Oregon experiences its peak rainfall. It's almost guaranteed that if you go for a walk during the wet season of November through March, without rain boots, you'll learn precisely why the Wet-Foot State is an appropriate Oregon state name!

Union State

"The Union" was a slogan added to the Oregon state seal during the Civil War. It remains there today, even making an appearance on the state flag. Since then, the Union State has been one of Oregon's unofficial nicknames.

In 1957, the Oregon Legislature also designated "The Union" as the state's official motto. The motto recognized the conflicting views that existed in the state during the Civil War and how, despite having residents supporting opposing sides, the state managed to avoid conflict through a union of viewpoints.

The motto was changed again in 1987 back to the original, "Alis volat propriis," Latin for "she flies with her own wings." However, it's not uncommon for older residents to refer to Oregon as the Union State.

Oregon nicknames, like the Sunset State, describe its scenic spots and landscapes
With Oregon's location, you can view the best sunsets wherever you are in the state

The Sunset State

The Sunset State is a historical nickname that comes from Oregon's early days as part of the United States. Oregon became the 33rd state in 1859. At that time, and for the next thirty years until Washington was admitted into the union in 1889, Oregon was the westernmost point of the United States.

It was said you could get the best views of the sunset from the state's Pacific Coast (fun Oregon fact: the state has over 360 miles of coastline), as nowhere in the country was further west.

Even though Oregon is no longer the westernmost state, you'll still experience some of the most fantastic sunset views. A few of the best spots to catch the sun going down in the Sunset State include the Astoria Column along the Columbia River in Astoria, Cannon Beach (with the famous Haystack Rock sitting just offshore), and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse at Agate Beach.

In Summary

If you've made it to the end of this article, there's no doubt that you've learned some new Oregon state nicknames and how they came to be. With such a unique history and so much natural beauty, it should be no surprise that the state has earned plenty of noteworthy nicknames over the years.

You have probably heard of some of these nicknames before, especially if you're from Oregon. After all, you'll see Pacific Wonderland on license plates across the state. But you may not have known the stories behind them, and hopefully you've even picked up some new nicknames to use in conversation yourself.

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Written by Jonathan Davis

JDavis WRITER Jonathan is a Florida-based travel writer who can't seem to stay in one place for long. With more than two decades of trips under his belt, Jonathan has a wealth of information to share about travel within the United States and abroad.

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