It’s fitting that Oregon’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day. It’s the loveliest state we can imagine, and we’re glad to call her ours.

From the expansive deserts to the rugged coastline, from the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge to jaw-dropping Crater Lake, from the hidden gem of the Eagle Cap Wilderness to the eclectic neighborhoods of Portland, from Hell’s Canyon to Mount Hood; every square mile of the state is filled with unique beauty.

We don’t take that for granted. There are entire countries that would kill for this geographical diversity. You could set out on a field trip every weekend to a different corner of the state and see something new and interesting each time.

Have you been to the caves in the Siskiyou Mountains, with their twisting marble hallways? Or the lava fields of central Oregon, where astronauts prepared for space travel in the 1960s? How about the Pendleton Underground Tours, telling the frank and wild history of that western town, or the Astoria Column, towering above the mouth of the mighty Columbia River?

It’s no wonder Oregon has become one of the most popular states for relocation. United Van Lines, which runs an annual survey on which states people are moving to and from, had Oregon as the second most-popular destination in both 2017 and 2018 behind Vermont.

Young and old alike come looking for the high quality of life. It’s something you can’t manufacture. It goes way back, to the days of the Oregon Trail, when people from the east set their eyes and their wagons on this place.

The urge to come here has been called “Oregon Fever,” as recounted by Stephen Dow Beckham, a professor of history at Lewis & Clark College in the Oregon Blue Book.

“It caused dreams, persuaded men and women to give up all that was familiar, risk their lives and fortunes, and set out for the far shores of the Pacific. The overland emigrations of the mid-nineteenth century were one of the epochal events of human history. Seldom had so many people traveled so far by land to seek a new beginning.”

Oregon bears a resemblance to Eden, providing a cornucopia of nature’s bounty.

We’re famous for our fish and forests, pears and potatoes, wheat and watermelon, hazelnuts and berries of all kinds.

A certain spirit has shaped the state in the last century and a half, as we’ve come to understand the land we inhabit.

We’ve passed bills to protect our beaches and keep them accessible to the public, making our coast a wonderful place to visit.

We’ve gone out of our way to protect the environment (admittedly, sometimes to a fault), because we want to be able to hand this state to the next generation the way we found it.

So we wish Oregon a happy 160th birthday, and a happy Valentine’s Day, too.

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