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Salem Overview

Salem Quick Facts

Total Area
46.4 sq mi (120.1 km2)
Time Zone

A Traveler's Guide to Salem

Salem is a city that is located in the northwestern region of the state of Oregon. It is the capital of the state as well as the third largest city in the state, behind Portland and Eugene. It is located on the Willamette River.

The name Salem was taken from the Arabic word "Salam" which means "peace". The city was founded in 1842, became the capital of the state in 1851 and was incorporated in 1857. The first European settlers to come to the region were trappers and fur traders. Jason Lee, a Methodist, settled the first permanent settlement in the area and soon established Oregon Institute, which later became Willamette University. Agriculture was very important to the city in its early days. The most important local crop was the cherry crop. In fact, each year the city of Salem celebrates this past by hosting the Oregon State Fair during which they celebrate the cherry's importance through food and historical displays. The first cherry celebration/festival was held in 1903 and has been held annually since the 1940's.

Salem has a marine west climate, which means heavy rains in late fall, mild temperatures in the summer, and cold winters. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit and winter temperatures can dip below freezing for days on end.

One of the most popular events each year in Salem is the World Beat Festival. It is a celebration of the diverse cultures represented in the city. There are musical performances, displays, food, and crafts. The Salem Art Fair and Festival is held each summer and is a celebration of local and international art.

The largest event each year is the Oregon State Fair which begins in August and ends on Labor Day each year. Carnival rides, food, competitions, and exhibits are all part of the fair experience. Since Salem is the state capital, the capitol building is popular with tourists. Adjacent to the capitol building is the Mission Hill Museum, Hallie Ford Museum of Art, and the Elsinore Theatre.

The closest airport is Portland International Airport and Salem offers daily shuttles to and from the airport.

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