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The Eden at the End of the Oregon Trail


Like a fish in water not appreciating it until he’s gasping for air out of it, so, I think, it takes those of us born and raised in the Willamette Valley some time to realize that we live in one of the best places on earth. I think I realized this in my thirties, but at the conclusion of my recent three-week road trip, I am once again reminded of it.

Don’t get me wrong: I appreciated every new place and vista encountered; the giant complexes of roads in the sky around Houston and Dallas; the dust storms of northern Texas; Nevada; the Grand Canyon; the big sky in places without trees or mountains.

But is there anything quite like returning to the Willamette Valley in mid-spring, on a rare warm sunshiny day? What a sense of “get out there and plant more, decorate every nook and cranny of outdoors with something lush and green and productive!” These were my thoughts upon returning home.

I thought of my grandfather. In my mid-twenties I moved to China for three years (but came home for the summers). My grandpa, who lived in the hills above Scotts Mills and who was born in Nebraska, could not understand it. Didn’t I already live in the best place on earth, he would ask earnestly. That’s not what it was about for me at the time. However, I also hadn’t yet discovered that I really did live in the Eden at the End of the  Trail.

Y’all come visit. But as Tom McCall would say, “Don’t stay.” 🙂


*I wrote this the morning after arriving home; it just took a bit to get it posted. I also spent hours looking for a photo of a sign I once saw calling Oregon the Eden at the End of the Oregon Trail. I wasn’t able to find it online. If anyone knows the sign I’m talking about, please drop me a line. Thanks!


S. Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade series, Seed SaversVisit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

One comment on “The Eden at the End of the Oregon Trail

  1. Yes, for many years YT passed a Rest Stop located a bit south of the I-5 SN at Boone Bridge across the Willamette River near Wilsonville and always noted with pleasure and appreciation a rather smallish sign, black print on white, announcing simply:
    “Eden at the end of the Oregon Trail”.
    Decades passed and came a sad day of realization, a most memorable thought provoking personal favorite expression of pioneer appreciation went missing and announced “Eden” no longer.

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