More Cities of Willamette Valley
Salem is the state capital of Oregon and its second largest city.
Located in the fertile Willamette Valley, Salem lies 46 miles south of Portland on the shores of the Willamette River. Its proximity to major cities such as Portland, Corvallis and Eugene and its location on U.S. Highway 5 makes it a popular stopping point for many Oregon visitors.
Salem's many historical attractions include its state capitol building, often noted for the unique gilded statue that crowns its dome. Standing 23 feet tall atop the state capitol, the Oregon Pioneer statue symbolizes Oregon's inextricable link with its emigrant past. The capitol building and its grounds also embody many artistic representations of Oregon's history and can be viewed by scheduled tour.
Other attractions worth viewing include the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, Deepwood House and Salem Cemetery, as well as the annual Oregon State Fair. The fair, a state institution of its own, takes place the last week of August through Labor Day. Salem also hosts its Art Fair and Festival in late July, featuring both performing and visual artists from around the country.
Nature-minded visitors will find some 50 scenic attractions in and around Salem. The Riverfront Park has easy walking paths skirt the shores of Willamette River, with picturesque locations to read or picnic. Minto-Brown Island Park has 868 acres of trails and serves as a national refuge for local wildlife. Silver Falls State Park is located 30 minutes east of Salem in the town of Sublimity and features several impressive walks, including the spectacular seven-mile Trail of Ten Falls.
Salem's name is believed to be Semitic in origin and to mean "peace." The townsite's original name was Chemeketa, a Kalapuya Indian word meaning "meeting or resting place." The name was changed around 1850 by local residents.
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