We know living in Portland is a lot of fun. We know we have some of the coolest things here like Voodoo Donuts. But, just to keep things weird, we thought we’d dig up some things you may not have known.
Here are five fun facts about the Portland metro area you may not have known.
1. Portland Could Have Been Boston
Unbelievably, a coin toss determined the name of the town. Francis W Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy were two of the original settlers. Lovejoy was leaning towards the name of his hometown, Boston. And Pettygrove wanted to honor his birthplace of Portland, Maine.
Then, in the coin toss showdown, Pettygrove won with the best two out of three using Lovejoy’s coin.
Lovejoy left Boston for the Oregon Country in 1842 over the Oregon Trail. He set up a law office in Oregon City and held territory adjoined with that owned by William Overton. Overton sold his share of the land to Pettygrove who had also come out to Oregon Country. He was sent by his company via ship to open a store arriving in 1843.
Lovejoy and Pettygrove decided to build a town on both tracts, and the fateful day came to name the city. And you can see what is believed to have been the fateful coin in the Oregon Historical Society Museum front lobby.
2. Bob’s Red Mill Started Here in 1978
Bob Moore had quite a fascinating journey to becoming synonymous with natural, organic, and whole foods. Bob’s commitment to healthier food came about after his father’s death from a heart attack at age 49. Furthermore, his health kick was greatly influenced by his grandmother’s obsession with healthy foods.
Bob and Charlee started experimenting with stone-ground flours in the mid-60’s, and kept playing around and experimenting while he ran gas stations in Gardena, California and Mammoth Lakes, California.
Then came Sacramento. And finally, in Redding, Bob and Charlee opened up Moore’s Flour Mill with his three sons. After a time, Bob and his wife retired and moved up to Portland. Soon after, he purchased a commercial flour mill in Oregon City and Bob’s Red Mill was founded. Yes, he did paint the building red.
Unfortunately, in 1988, the red mill was destroyed by an arsonist’s fire. Thankfully, the millstones survived. Bob and Charlee built a new mill in Milwaukie, and company headquarters have been here ever since.
So whenever you buy a package with Bob’s Red Mill on it, you are buying local.
3. We’re Moving Clockwise
Stick with us on this one. It’s a bit of a winding road, but we promise it will amaze you.
In 1700, Japan suffered a massive tsunami without any warning of an earthquake. It was considered quite the conundrum until the modern age when scientists were able to look at tree rings showing several “ghost forests” of red cedar that were killed due to the lowering of coastal forests into the tidal zone.
This could only mean one thing. Portland had a huge earthquake of estimated magnitude around 9.0 along the Cascadia subduction zone.
Further studies showed that these great earthquakes occur about every 500 years. There’s evidence of at least 13 quakes at intervals from about 300-900 years averaging 560 years.
And if you’re really into the science of tectonics, you will want to dive a little deeper. What the experts have also discovered is that the Cascadia fault slowly rotates clockwise against the Juan de Fuca plate until it reaches a certain amount of pressure.
That’s when the earthquake happens pushing the Cascadia fault back counterclockwise. And then the process starts again.
4. The Largest and Smallest Parks
Right within Portland, we have a Guinness Book of World Records winner. It’s the world’s smallest park. Mills End Park, near the Willamette River, is a tiny grassy area with a total area of about 3 square feet.
Originally, it was intended to be the home of a light pole that never showed up. So, an Oregon Journal columnist planted flowers on the spot. Then, in 1976, the powers that be officially recognized it as a city park.
On the flip side, Forest Park (link to the other article mentioning it) has one of the largest urban forest reserves in the United States. Plus, it’s the largest one within a city’s limits.
5. We’re Tops for Tofu
Buckman is the home of the oldest continuously running tofu maker. Ota Tofu Company has been creating delicious tofu by hand for 100 years.
The Ota family started the business in 1911 providing a taste of home for the rapidly growing Japanese immigrant community. In 2019, the Ogata Family purchased Ota Tofu and is committed to maintaining the values of the founders and continuing to craft tofu by hand.
It’s hard to believe that tofu was deemed the most loathed food by USA Today in 1986. Good tofu is delicious and sustainable not to mention healthy.
Read even more crazy facts about Portland!
And Just to Keep It Weird…
And because we can’t help ourselves, we’re tossing in a bonus factoid. Let’s talk about some nicknames. You’ve heard of Rose City and City of Roses. The name PDX is because of the airport. But did you know Portland was called “Stumptown” for a time? Many trees were cut down to build up the town, but no one removed the stumps.
Do you want to learn more about another cool PDX Fact? Read our blog post, “Why Is The Oregon State Flower A Fruit?”
It is your turn to share some cool facts! What is a cool fact that you know about Portland? Share it in the comments below.