How much do you know about your hometown?
Did you know that of Salem’s population of around 180,000 people, 45,000 are under the age of 15? That’s right, about 25% of Salem’s population is made up of kids just like you!
If there’s one thing we all have in common as residents of Salem, it’s that we love our city. The question is, how much do we all know about it?
The team at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry is here to drop some fun facts for kids about this town we call home.
Read on for 10 awesome fun facts that will totally blow your mind.
1. Salem has native origins.
Thousands of years ago, Salem was not yet called Salem and looked nothing like it does today. In fact, the area was originally settled by the Kalapuya people, an indigenous population made up of several autonomous groups.
The Salem area was sort of like a home base for the Kalapuya people and in the winter, every member of the tribe would occupy their Oregon village. During the warmer seasons, several members of each tribe ventured out to gather seasonal food and other crucial materials. Prior to contact with colonizers, it is believed that there were over 15,000 Kalapuya people in the area.
2. Salem was colonized in the 1830s.
In the 1830s, Methodist colonizers arrived in the Salem area. Unfortunately, they brought with them diseases that the Kalapuya people had never before encountered. As a result, the colonist population grew and the indigenous population dwindled.
3. Willamette Valley is known for its tasty water.
Salem is located in Willamette Valley, where you’ll find a large portion of the Willamette River. (Fun fact about the Willamette River: it’s the largest river in America that is entirely contained in one state!)
Willamette Valley sources all of its water from the beautiful Willamette River. It is widely known that we have some of the cleanest and tastiest water in the Pacific Northwest.
4. Salem has had many names.
Originally, the Kalapuya people called this area Chim-i-ki-ti, which translates to “meeting or resting place.” When the Methodist colonizers arrived, they sometimes used the name Chemeketa. This spelling of the name reflected the way that the colonizers understood what the Kalapuya people were saying and how they recorded it using their own language.
During this time, many people also referred to the area as the Mill because it was so close to Mill Creek. In the following years, some referred to the area as the Institute in reference to the newly established Oregon Institute.
It’s unclear exactly how Salem came to be known as Salem. Some people believe that it is an Anglicized version of the word Shalom, while others think it may be a shortened version of Jerusalem.
5. The first two capitol buildings burned down.
The state of Oregon has had three distinct capitol buildings in Salem. The first was built in 1855 and burned to the ground after only two months. The second was built in 1876 and lasted until 1935 when it, too, caught fire and burned down.
Fortunately, the third stuck! Our current capitol building was built in 1938 and is doing just fine.
6. Salem’s nickname is “Cherry City” due to its agricultural past.
You probably attend the Oregon State Fair in Salem every year with your parents. Did you know that it’s located in Salem because agriculture has always been a large part of Salem’s economy and culture? What’s more, the city got the nickname “Cherry City” because the local cherry growers were a major part of the agricultural economy in the past.
In fact, in the early 20th century, Salem used to host an annual cherry festival that was briefly revived in the mid-20th century. We don’t know about you, but we’d love to celebrate cherries again!
7. The 45th Parallel passes right through Salem.
Have you ever heard of the 45th Parallel? The 45th Parallel is an imaginary line that goes in a circle all the way around the Earth. It is the exact middle point between the Equator (the center of the Earth) and the North Pole.
This imaginary line passes right through Salem. Some of the cities we share this distinction with are Perry, Maine; Torch Lake, Michigan; and Tilden, Wisconsin.
8. Salem offers tons of festival and market fun.
There are more events in Salem than just the Oregon State Fair! All year round, you and your family and friends can enjoy the local culture at Salem’s many city events.
For example, the Salem Multicultural Institute hosts the World Beat Fair in June, celebrating international crafts, music, food, and lore. The Salem Art Association sponsors the summertime Salem Art Fair and Festival, bringing attention to local and state artists and showcasing their work in Bush’s Pasture Park. Plus, you can buy local baked goods, meats, produce, and crafts at the Saturday Public Market every single weekend.
9. The Riverfront Carousel draws riders of all ages.
The grand opening of our beloved Riverfront Carousel occurred in 2001 after volunteers spent four years carving and painting the horses and other fun animals. The carousel has become the site of marriage proposals, local political events, and birthday parties.
In 2017, an estimated 3.7 million riders had enjoyed the Riverfront Carousel since its grand opening. Of those riders, the youngest was 4 days old and the oldest was 104 years old!
Do you have a favorite horse at the Riverfront Carousel?
10. Tons of Salem families visit Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry every year.
With so many kiddos running around, it’s important that Salem is home to a pediatric dentist or two. Dr. Cooper and Dr. Day are happy to serve the families of Salem at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry. Come and meet them if you haven’t already.
Schedule your dental appointment in Salem today.
We hope that you’ve learned some fun facts today about your hometown of Salem, Oregon! What else do you know about Salem that you want to share? Let us know at your next dentist appointment.Mom or Dad can schedule your appointment here. We can’t wait to see you.