City of Salem

Salem is the capital of Oregon and the county seat for Marion County. It is located approximately 46 miles southwest of Portland in Oregon’s Willamette River Valley. This valley is one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the country. It is located at the intersection of Oregon State Highways 223, 213, and 221. Interstate I-5 is a northerly route to Portland, and a southerly route to Eugene.

Salem, Oregon’s oldest community, was once called Chemeketa by Indians, which means “meeting place or resting spot”. In 1851, it replaced Oregon City as the territorial capital. However, in 1855, Salem was temporarily replaced by Corvallis (40 mi to the south) as the capital. This arrangement lasted for less than one year before Salem was reinstituted as the territorial capital. Salem was incorporated in 1857 as a city. When Oregon achieved statehood two years later, Salem was made its permanent capital. Both of Salem’s original Capitol buildings were destroyed by fire. One of them was copper-domed and was modeled partly after the U.S. Capitol Building. The site of the two previous buildings was the location for Salem’s current Oregon State Capitol building. It was built in 1938. It is distinguished by the gold-plated pioneer statue known as the Oregon Pioneer that is mounted atop its capitol dome.


City Info