"Pleasant State Capitol on the Willamette River" Top 5 Page for this destination Salem by atufft

Salem Travel Guide: 95 reviews and 289 photos

Chemeketa means "meeting or resting place"

The Kalapuyan indians called this spot in the Willamette Valley, along the river, Chemeketa, or "meeting place". This diverse tribal and linguistic group had settled throughout the Williamette and Umpqua River Valleys, and into the coastal and Cascade Mountains, found the central location on the banks of the river appropriate for tribal meetings. The establishment of the mill at Mill Creek, and later the Oregon Institute (1842), the town was variously called Mill or Institute, but the name Salem was chosen when the original downtown grid pattern was designed by David Leslie and William H. Willson. Salem was established as the capitol when Oregon became a state in 1859. Today, Willson's name is given to the landscaped park on the western side of the Capitol grounds, and the old downtown of this third largest city in Oregon sits pleasantly just near the eastern side of the Williamette River. The metro area population of Salem is second in size only to much larger Portland, but this is a quiet city that quickly disssolves into the bucolic valley farms that surround it. Salem is in the center of Oregon.

Visiting Salem

May Trucking Company, my employer, has its headquarters at Brooks, Oregon, which is just a few miles away from Salem. When unavoidably detained from wandering the 48 states, I often stay in a Keizer hotel. The walk from the hotel in Keizer to downtown Salem is about an hour long, and I have hiked into the core of Salem to wander the capitol grounds and have dinner downtown several times. The downtown is mostly 19th and early 20th century architecture recently restored with seismic retrofit steel and new colorful paint. As is the tradition throughout Oregon, the ubiquitous coffee shop is everywhere, and there is a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and clubs in the downtown area that cater to the government workers and refined tastes of the residents living in central Salem.

  • Intro Updated Jul 6, 2008
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Reviews (21)

Comments (7)

  • easterntrekker's Profile Photo
    Dec 11, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    I enjoyed my visit to Salem ,Mass but didn't realize there was a Salem in Oregon..I enjoyed your pages.

  • Pawtuxet's Profile Photo
    Oct 20, 2009 at 6:26 AM

    Dragon boat races, huh? Never encountered those before. Enjoyed my visit to Salem...very different from our New England Salem... indeed!

  • 850prc's Profile Photo
    Jul 27, 2008 at 12:21 PM

    Pretty place, Alan. Wow, something Oregon and Florida have in common. 90% of the non-residents can't name our capital cities... (Salem and Tallahassee) Most figure something like Portland and Miami, etc.

  • SteveOSF's Profile Photo
    Jul 17, 2008 at 11:25 AM

    Alan, Nice work. Great descriptions and photos. I passed thru Salem many years ago and just had time for a brief look as it was already night I needed to continue on the road. It definitely looks like it is worth a longer visit. ~ Steve

  • Jul 8, 2008 at 9:56 AM

    Another excellent new page of Oregon!

  • Lhenne1's Profile Photo
    Jul 7, 2008 at 5:26 PM

    We stopped in Salem for lunch on our way back from Vancouver. I feel like we missed so much now! Thanks for sharing :)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jul 6, 2008 at 12:04 AM

    Hi, Alan! Never read about Salem! Thanks for your stories!

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