Folklore & History

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Folklore and History

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Multnomah Falls is one of many spectacular waterfalls in Oregon

Topping the list of Oregon folklore is: rain in such abundance that moss grows on the nape of resident’s necks, a large mysterious human-like creature with extremely big feet, and a job-killing owl with spots. Oregon is also known for its role in the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Oregon Trail, gold rushes, and Native American history.

It does rain here. Rainy weather is more prevalent along the coast and in the state’s northwest region. Fortunately for cyclists, summer and early fall tend to be dry throughout the state. Moss doesn’t really grow on the people here. It grows on almost everything else. Fairy tale settings of moss covered landsacapes and greens of a thousand hues are a common site on a Via Bike Tour trip.

We are sorry to say that it is doubtful that you will encounter Bigfoot on a Via Bike Tours trip, but we suggest you keep all senses carefully attuned to your surroundings. Apparently the pungent smell of the creature precedes its presence. If you drift through an odiferous cloud deep within an old growth forest, don’t be too quick to blame your cycling partner. Keep your eyes open for a Sasquatch.

The spotted owl has become legend as a poster animal for the Federal Endangered Species Act. You will not likely see or hear one. They are reclusive creatures that, for some people, carry the weight of Oregon’s declining timber industry on their fluffy little wings. Yet, despite some of the strictest environmental standards in the world, Oregon remains the number one producer of lumber in the US and the shift toward environmental protection is leading to a boom in the tourism industry.

Many of the small towns along the Via Bike Tours routes were built by gold miners and loggers. They are historically fascinating communities. Some are now ghost towns or hubs for artist colonies. Others transitioned to tourism as the gold ran out and the timber industry waned. These eccentric little towns welcome cyclists with open arms, good food and drink, and wonderful tales of past glory.

Lewis & Clark ended their westward voyage of discovery at the Oregon coast in 1805. Their map from the journey, and subsequent routes established by trappers and traders, led to a mass emigration west along the Oregon Trail starting in 1836. Most of the settlers that lived through the trip settled in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Wagon ruts are still visible in many areas of Oregon.

Native American history and culture are a vital part of the makeup of Oregon. We understand much more about the natural history of the state and how to live sustainably off the land through the oral stories and traditions of the first people to live here. Though displaced by settlers and the US Army in the mid 19th century, often with violent and tragic consequences, nine confederated tribal groups remain in the state. Each has sovereign authority to govern their lands and protect the health, safety and welfare of their members, resulting in a unique patchwork of tribal lands and traditions that dot the state.

Are you ready for a first-hand experience of Oregon’s folklore and history? Sign up now for a tour.