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Guide to The Oregon Cultural License Plate

Published: October 20, 2021

 

Oregon residents have a colorful new license plate to choose this year in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Oregon Cultural Trust. The “Celebrate Oregon!” Cultural Trust license plate is a montage of over 120 symbols representing important cultural aspects across Oregon.

More than two dozen of these iconic Oregon cultural features are manifest right here in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region, whether through a landmark, artwork, business, natural resource, historic or current practice. Additionally, the license plate itself was designed by Eugene resident and artist, Liza Burns; further emphasizing Eugene's significance as a cultural destination.

Artist Liza Burns painting the Oregon Cultural Trust License Plate design.

Artist Liza Burns painting the Oregon Cultural Trust License Plate design.

Photo: Oregon Cultural Trust

Guide to Local Art Symbols on the License Plate

Our county showcases so much of what makes Oregon the rich and diverse state that it is — and here is a guide to some of those license plate-acknowledged treasures that can be experienced right here, in and about our community. (Listed in no particular order.)

The Falcon — 1

Track this symbol to Eugene's Cascades Raptor Center — a long-established nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and rehabilitation of the region's raptors. Serving as both a bird hospital, refuge and educational center, the Cascades Raptor Center is point of community pride. Their birds of prey programs also partner with local wineries for raptor release into the vineyards, a sustainable method of pest control. Visitors can tour the facilities and meet the current bird-residents and learn about how important raptors are to the local eco-system.

Cascades Raptor Center

Photo: Erin Sackett
Ballet Shoes — 6

The fine art of ballet is symbolized by its shoes. Led by Eugene Ballet, with its stage presence at the Hult Center and traveling productions in smaller communities, our region rivals other metro destinations with its calibre and quantity of ballet companies and academies. We are also proud of Ballet Fantastique, the Oregon Ballet Academy, Flex Studios and many, many more dance companies in our communities.

Eugene Ballet Performance

Photo: David Putzier
The Gray Whale — 7

All along the Oregon Coast there is amazing whale watching; but our stretch of coastline offers the uniquely special Sea Lion Caves location for prime watching — plus Florence sports the "Exploding Whale Memorial Park" namesake for a notorious and disastrous attempt to dispose of a marooned whale carcass. 

Whale Watching at Sea Lion Caves by Taj Morgan
Watch migrating Gray whales along the Oregon Coast on their 12,000-mile (19,300-km) annual migration between the Arctic Ocean… More Info
Siuslaw Bridge — 71

This historic beauty spans the Siuslaw River right in Historic Old Town Florence along Highway 101. While there are many beautiful bridges in Oregon, the 1930s Siuslaw River Bridge is one of particular magnificence. Stay in one of the lodges on the waterfront to enjoy nighttime views of the bridge.

The Suitcase — 18

This suitcase acknowledges Oregon's immigrant communities, but in particular it symbolizes the internment of our Japanese American community during WWII — and their possessions reduced to one suitcase. In Eugene, a memorial garden features the statue of a young girl with her suitcase as she awaits relocation.

The Electric Guitar — 19

The guitar pays tribute to The Kingsmen, a 60s band from Portland that sang "Louie Louie", a song featured prominently in the locally filmed "Animal House" movie, covered by "Otis Day & the Knights". This rock 'n roll riff still fires up the student section at Duck football games. Check out today's music scene around Eugene.

Cuthbert Amphitheater Concert by Melanie Griffin
Check out local live music events and Eugene's concert calendar for more entertainment inspiration.… More Info
Further Bus — 26

The Kesey family's iconic bus, once driven across the country by author Ken Kesey and his "prankster" buddies, signifies the counter cultural era in Eugene-Springfield. Today, the family legacy includes the Springfield Creamy, makers of Nancy's Yogurt, and the management of several live music theaters. You can see other tributes to Ken Kesey — a gigantic mural of the author on the side of Springfield's Plank Town Brewing Company and a statue of him reading to children in downtown Eugene's Kesey Square.

Further Bus by Melanie Griffin

Further Bus

Photo: Melanie Griffin
The Peach — 35

The many orchards throughout the Willamette Valley are represented by this peach — but for Eugene, and on the license plate, the peach represents something else — the Oregon Country Fair. An annual free-spirit and family-friendly event held during July in Veneta, outside Eugene since the late 60s, the Oregon Country Fair is a colorful, eccentric and entertainment-packed event that is not to be missed.

The Hiking Boot — 31

The hiking boot represents the Pacific Crest Trail. Two popular trailheads intersect the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region near Oakridge and McKenzie River, providing an opportunity for short treks along this storied trail. Hiking is central to Eugene, Cascades & Coast, with paths and trails crisscrossing the region, in urban settings and throughout remote public lands. Find short and long hiking trails to mountain vistas, waterfalls and serene woodlands.

Hiking the McKenzie River Trail (MRT)
Hiking trails crisscross the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region through old-growth forests and quiet canyons, across ancient lava… More Info
The Tent — 22

The tent symbol represents Oregon's State Parks and numerous campgrounds of which our region has many! Explore all the nearby campgrounds from the coast to the Cascade mountains.

Camping at Jesse Honeyman State Park

Photo: Melanie Griffin / EugenCascadesCoast.org
The Axe — 33

The axe represents the region's timber history, including the logging towns of Oakridge and Springfield. Today, enjoy the industry's legacy while axe throwing in Springfield — recreational target practice; sipping a craft beer at Plank Town Brewing Company or shopping for beautiful reclaimed wood products at Urban Lumber

Beer Pint — 43 & Hops — 52

It's not just Portland and Bend brewing up notable craft beers — Eugene holds its own in this category. Follow our Eugene Ale Trail to a dozen outstanding local breweries. Frequently sourcing locally grown hops or grains and using the ultra clear and clean water from the McKenzie River, our region's beers are phenomenal. 

Alesong Beer Flight

Photo: Sally McAleer
The Coffin — 41

Hmmm...what could a coffin represent? Well, the Coffin Races at Skinner Butte in Eugene of course! This quirky event is a local favorite around Halloween, when daredevils design and race coffin soapbox derby carts through the historic streets of the Market District. (Please note: this event may be paused for the pandemic.) If spooky is your thing, there are plenty of ghostly stories across the county to investigate.

This Halloween, discover eight haunted places from the Oregon Coast to the mountains. Ghost… More Info
The Hazelnut — 54

This nut, also known as a filbert, is farmed throughout the valley. And Springfield has one of the oldest, still working, hazelnut farms in the area. Dorris Ranch showcases acres of historic trees on a beautiful plot beside the Willamette River. Visit the ranch for hiking, photography and learning about history through the interpretive centers.

Fort Rock Sandals — 50

The oldest fiber sandals were found in Oregon, and have been periodically displayed at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene. Shoes spark a lot of reverence here, as Eugene - Springfield is also home to the creation of the first Nike running shoe.

Shoes at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History

Photo: Museum of Natural and Cultural History
Native American Profile — 29

American Indian Movement to preserve tribal sovereignty is strong in Oregon. From programs and grants through the Three Rivers Casino in Florence to the University of Oregon's Long House near the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, work is being done to recognize the heritage, legacy and rights of Indigenous People.

The Eugene, Cascades & Coast region (Lane County) sits astride a diverse ecological landscape with… More Info
Covered Bridge — 48

The Eugene, Cascades & Coast region has twenty preserved historic covered bridges from the coast to the Cascades. Many are clustered in the All America City of Cottage Grove. Take a road trip and enjoy a romantic adventure to these nostalgic treasures.

Penny-Farthing Bicycle — 60

If you are going to see this old fashioned bicycle, the chance is, you'd see it in Eugene. There are a wide range of unusual and innovative cycles to spot across the county from one, two, three or four wheels. Cycling is beloved here in this all-weather, environmentally aware community with a long history of bicycle inventions and business. Ride three of the state's Official Scenic Bikeways right here.

Pinot Noir Bottle —75 & Grape Bunch — 110

This bottle of wine symbolizes the robust wine industry throughout Oregon, known especially for our award winning Pinot Noir. This finicky grape grows well in Oregon's soil and boutique vintners produce stunning wines each year. Visit South Willamette Wine Country just outside Eugene to taste and enjoy very special wines — and discover Eugene's many urban tasting rooms too! 

Bennett Vineyards & Wine Co wine bottles

Photo: Melanie Griffin / Eugene, Cascades & Coast
The Paintbrush — 117

An artists paintbrush is tribute to the arts. In particular, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the University of Oregon campus houses a stunning collection of fine arts and antiquities. Note the urban street art and colorful murals as you move about town and discover the vibrant small art galleries and art walks throughout the region's communities.

Maude Kerns Art Center
Art flourishes across the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region, on display at fine art museums, galleries, artists' private studios, art… More Info
The Folklorica Skirt — 66

This traditional skirt represents the Hispanic community throughout Oregon and in Eugene. Fiesta Cultural! is our region's largest celebration of Latino/a/x arts, culture and heritage. 

Party on the Plaza Dance Group by Melanie Griffin

Party on the Plaza Dance Group

Photo: Melanie Griffin / Eugene, Cascades & Coast
Steelhead Trout — 12 & Chinook Salmon — 74

Both the Steelhead Trout and the Chinook Salmon are highlighted as important to Oregon culture. And in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region, many rivers, creeks and streams draw anglers to try their luck by drift boat, by wading or from shore. Go with a guide for insight into the best fishing holes and to soak up the pristine beauty along the rivers.

Boy Fishing McKenzie River by Curt Bal
Discover the best fishing holes with local guides who have grown up fishing Oregon's rivers, streams, lakes and ocean… More Info
Chanterelle — 97 & Morel Mushrooms — 80

Each mushroom is signified as a separate entity to celebrate in the design, however; mushrooms altogether are an important part of Eugene's culinary scene. From January's  Oregon Truffle Festival to October's Mt. Pisgah's Mushroom Festival, mushrooms are celebrated across the region. Mushroom foraging is a popular recreational pastime and pops up in local Chef's dishes and at markets.

One of the local food thrills of the Pacific Northwest is mushroom foraging. The damp, rich soil… More Info

Order Your License Plate & Learn More

So much of Oregon's culture can be found right here in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region. Can you connect more clues from the license plate design to our community? 

Take a fun cultural quiz to test your Oregon cultural knowledge — and enter a giveaway contest for a limited time. Homeschooling tip: Use the license plate artwork for unit study on Oregon, researching the significance behind each symbol, and plotting them on the state map! Delve into the license plate's symbolism through the Oregon Cultural Trust's interactive decoder. You can find FAQs on ordering the license plate here as well. Proceeds from the Celebrate Oregon! license plate help fund cultural projects and programs statewide. 

Author: Taj Barnhart Morgan

Taj Barnhart Morgan is the Director of Content Strategy for Travel Lane County. A journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, Taj has two decades of special event management and hospitality marketing experience in San Diego, CA and Maui, HI. Passionate about mothering, and back to her Oregon roots, she is discovering the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region all over again through the eyes of her daughter.