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Americans have been arriving in Oregon through the Columbia River Gorge since 1804 when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark sailed through during th eCorps of Discovery Expedition. The Columbia River Highway was carved out of the cliffs in 1916 and the two-lane passageway, punctuated by intricate stonework and artful bridges is still the best way to see this natural wonder. Some 77 waterfalls tumble off ridges and sheer walls that soar 2,000 feet above the river, including Multnomah Falls, America’s second-highest year-round plunge at 620 feet accomplished in two dramatic drops.
In the 1800s an estimated 400,000 settlers made their way 2,000 miles west by wagon train on the Oregon Trail. They may have heard tales of impossibly tall forests and rich, fertile valleys but the first land they encountered in Oregon is the unrelenting scrub desert lands of the eastern two-thirds of the state. Most moved on but some stayed and carved ranches from the high desert; rustic properties that still hit the market today.
In recent years one of the hottest real estate markets in the Beaver State has been the four-season recreation destination of Deschutes County on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains. Most Oregonians are settled just across the Cascades in the Willamette Valley that stretches from Portland in the north down to Medford and the great Oregon fruit orchards in the south.
Oregon features 363 miles of Pacific Ocean and all of it is public – there are over 80 state parks and recreation areas on the coast. The land here can be bought but not developed and owners grant perpetual easement to pedestrians. The upside is there are no property taxes. The climate in the coastal rain forests is cool, the sunny days rare, the views unspoiled and the fly-fishing world class. Only a few roads cross the coastal mountains so large swaths of the Oregon Coastal counties remain undeveloped.