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Eugene is the second largest city in the state of Oregon and the seat of Lane County. It is located at the south end of the Willamette Valley, near the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers, about 50 miles east of the Oregon Coast. Eugene’s population is just over 150,000, out of the approximately 350,000 population of Lane County. It encompasses just over 40 square miles, and its average elevation is 426 feet.
Along with being the home of the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), Eugene is noted for its natural beauty, recreational opportunities (especially bicycling, running/jogging, rafting, kayaking),and large arts community. Eugene's slogan is "A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors." It is also referred to as the "Emerald City", and as "Track Town, USA.
Eugene got its name from its founder, Eugene Franklin Skinner. In 1846, Skinner built the first cabin in the area, which was used as a trading post and became the first official post office on January 8, 1850. The area was originally known as Skinner's Mudhole. Skinner founded Eugene in 1862, and later ran a ferry service across the Willamette River near the location of the present day Ferry Street Bridge.
The University of Oregon dominates the eastern portion of town. It was founded in 1872 through local fundraising efforts, and officially opened in 1876. The University has grown steadily over the years, and is now one of the best schools in the country.
Skinner butte dominates the landscape just north of downtown, and Skinner Butte is the major landmark to the south. The Coburg Hills fill the horizon to the northeast, and north of Skinner Butte the landscape opens up to the Willamette Valley and its rich farmlands.
The Willamette River bisects Eugene, and its confluence with the McKenzie River occurs a few miles north of town. Amazon Creek, with its headwaters near Spencer Butte, also runs through town towards the west.
Temperatures in Eugene are mild year round, with warm (average temperatures in the 80s), dry summers and mild (mid 40s in the day, around freezing at night), wet winters. Spring and fall are also moist seasons, with light rain falling for extended periods. The average rainfall is about 50 inches, and the average temperature is about 52 degrees F. Eugene does get occasional snow in the winter months, averaging about 5 inches per year.
Eugene has a large and varied group of cultural organizations, including the Eugene Symphony, the Eugene Ballet, the Eugene Opera, the Eugene Concert Choir, the Northwest Christian University Community Choir, the Oregon Mozart Players, the Oregon Bach Festival, the Oregon Children's Choir, the Oregon Festival Choirs, the Eugene Youth Symphony, Ballet Fantastique and Oregon Festival of American Music. The main performing arts venues include the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts ("The Shedd"), Matthew Knight Arena, Beall Concert Hall and the Erb Memorial Union ballroom on the University of Oregon campus, the McDonald Theatre, and W.O.W. Hall.
There are several theater groups based in Eugene, including Free Shakespeare in the Park, Lord Leebrick Theatre, The Very Little Theatre, Actors Cabaret, LCC Theatre, and University Theatre.
Eugene's visual arts community consists of over 20 private art galleries and several organizations, including Maude Kerns Art Center, Lane Arts Council, DIVA (the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts), the Hult Center's Jacobs Gallery, and the Eugene Glass School.