West Coast: Their Capital And Meaning Of Their Name By Ginny
California’s capital is Sacramento
It’s thought that the name California comes from a sixteenth century novel, Las Sergas de Esplandian by Garcia Ordonez de Montalvo. Spanish explorers Hernando Cortez and Ortuno Ximenez were familiar with the work of Montalvo and probably named the territory after the gold laden island described in the novel.
Washington’s capital is Olympia
You guessed it! The Washington Territory established in 1853 was named to honor the first President of the United States, George Washington.
Oregon’s capital is Salem
The origin of the name Oregon is not certain. One theory has it that the name comes from the French Canadian word “ouragan” meaning “storm” or “hurricane.” It’s thought that the Columbia River was at one time called “the river of storms” by Canadian fur traders plying their trade in the area.
Another suggestion is that the name of the state came from the Spanish word “orejon” meaning “big-ear.” This was a term that was applied to many Indian tribes in the area.
A third idea suggests that the name of this state comes from the Spanish word “orégano” for the wild sage which grows so vigorously in eastern Oregon.