Downtown Salem, OR

Salem, OR

Today we rode into the downtown area of Salem twice.  First, we took the car in to buy some fresh fruit at a farmers market.  Then, after we took the fruit back to the motorhome, we headed back into town on the bicycles for some exploration.  It is about a five mile ride from our park to the downtown, but there are bike lanes on most roads and it is flat riding.

Once downtown, the first thing we did was to explore the campus of Willamette University, which is just across the street from the state capitol building.

Willamette University was founded in 1842 and is the oldest university in the Western United States. Willamette is made up of an undergraduate College of Liberal Arts and post-graduate schools of business, law, and education. The university is a member of the NCAA’s Division III Northwest Conference and has an enrollment of approximately 2,500 students between the graduate and undergraduate programs.  A beautiful stream flows through the center of the campus providing some great spots to sit peacefully by the water.  The area below is called Hudson’s Bay.

Just to the left of the picture above were some students sitting on  a bench under a shade tree.  There was a plaque on the wall next to the bench that is interesting.

“Place of Reflection”

If you are not familiar with the story, during the Second World War people on the West Coast were very fearful that there were spies among the large Japanese-American population.  So under an executive order by President Roosevelt, they were forced to leave their homes and move into “relocation camps” located throughout the west, some as far away as Arkansas and Wisconsin.   Most were loyal American citizens and there is no evidence that any were spies.  But that’s a story for another day . . .

The Clock Tower and Hatfield Library

Below is the Antoinette and Mark Hatfield Fountain.  It shows two eagles, one in a nest and the other landing/taking off from a large rock.  The sculpture is based on the scripture that is on a plaque on the wall next to the fountain.

Antoinette and Mark O. Hatfield Fountain

Mark Hatfield served as governor of Oregon for eight years then represented the state as a U.S. senator for thirty years.  He graduated from Willamette University and taught Economics there for a short time before entering politics.  His name is on a number of buildings in the state.

The campus has beautiful landscaping and a number of magnificent trees.  This grove of Giant Sequoias caught our eye.  To get an appreciation for their size, look at Pam standing near them.

Giant Sequoias

From the lawn where we took the picture of the Sequoias, if you turn to the north you see the back of the state capitol building, topped by a golden statue called “The Brawny Woodsman”.

Inside the entrance there is a large rotunda area with the seal of the state in the center.  Marble steps on the left and right lead up to the legislative chambers.

The Senate Chamber

Looking across the rotunda area to the House of Representatives

The House of Representatives Chamber

The grounds around the capitol building have some interesting displays.  The current capitol building is the third one, the first two were destroyed by fire.  The broken columns in the picture below were from the second building.  The story of how they were preserved is on a plaque in the next picture.

Next to the display of the columns was an interesting tree, pictured below.  We went inside the capitol and were able to find a brochure listing the names of trees on the grounds, but this one was not in the brochure.  If you know what it is, please let us know by leaving a comment.

The tree below was named in the brochure.  It is a Camperdown Elm Tree.  There are a number of these on the grounds that are over a hundred years old.  If left untrimmed, the branches would grow to the ground.

Camperdown Elm

On the west side of the capitol is the Waite Fountain.  Between the fountain and the capitol is a lawn surrounded by flags of all other states, called the Walk of the Flags.

Waite Fountain

Walk of the Flags

Next to the Walk of the Flags is a sculpture called the Capitol Beaver Family, dedicated to the state animal.  Behind it you can see the trunk of a large Coastal Redwood Tree.

Capitol Beaver Family

Across the street from the front of the capitol building is a mall area called the Oregon  State Capitol  State Park filled with fountains and sculptures.  Below is the first fountain, the Wall of Water.  Twenty-two nozzles use water reclaimed from building cooling units to shoot up a wall of water twelve feet high.

The Wall of Water

At the north end of the mall you can look back across the grass area with the fountains to the capitol building.  Under the park is a parking garage that is nicely hidden from sight.

The Oregon State  Capitol State Park

The fountain in the front of the picture above is called the Sprague Fountain, donated by a former governor.  A picture of the fountain from the side is below.

Sprague Fountain

The capitol area in Salem is typical for the west:  relaxed and laid back.  We walked through the capitol building with a back pack and didn’t even see a security guard, much less any bag checking equipment.  It made for a very enjoyable visit.

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4 Responses to Downtown Salem, OR

  1. Marsha says:

    Willamette University looks beautiful and green. The plaque is interesting. We saw one very similar to that in Spokane and San Francisco. Can’t believe we did something like that.

    LOVE the Hatfield fountain! It appears that Mr. Hatfield might have had a few bucks. Don’t think we will ever have a building named after us.

    I knew we should have stopped at the Capitol. I just love those buildings. This one is GORGEOUS! So interesting how The House and The Senate look so similar but their desk area are different. I think it is so funny the difference in the chairs. The BIG shot gets the chair with arms, and the poor little gofer has none. The gofer must have to be able to up run at the Big shots command…hehe

    I have no idea what the name of the tree is but it is awesome. They prune those Elms so lovely.

    Don’t think I have ever seen a beaver statue but this on is pretty cool.

    I love the photo of the Walk of Flags with the Capitol behind it. Lovely.

    Amazing there is NO security there. I thought all Federal and State buildings were to have security equipment installed. I guess it would be pretty crazy to blow up the Capitol of Oregon. No disrespect intended.

  2. Deb says:

    We also noticed the laid back atmosphere when we were in Santa Fe.
    Is Salem a big city type capital, or does it have more of the big town feel? When we were in Boise, we were struck by how “small town” it seemed.
    That lone woman inside the capital building appears to be looking for the state Quiz Bowl competition. Given the lack of other contestants, she should be able to answer all the questions!

  3. placestheygo says:

    Salem has that big town feeling, for sure. We were in Portland one day and Salem the next and the difference is very evident. It appears that lady never did find the quiz bowl competition but she is hoping the team makes it again next year, unlike some teams.

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