or: How Corvallis learned to stop caring and hate Jackson County
Once upon a time, the United States territory of Oregon, some four years before officially becoming a state, decided that it was getting mighty sick of not having a permanent seat of local government. Although Oregon City served as the de facto seat, it proved to be unpopular with the vast majority of Oregonians. And so it was that the matter was put to vote.
The votes rolled in, and were tallied up. The leaders were, in order, Eugene, with approximately 2400 votes, Corvallis, with approximately 2100 votes, Salem, with approximately 1900 votes, and Portland, with approximately 1100 votes. The rules of the vote stated that if one city had not attained a majority vote, then there would be a vote-off between the top two. This seemed straight-forward enough, and the people prepared to vote between Eugene and Corvallis.
They had another thing coming.
Another, more obscure, provisio of the vote required each county to file their votes in Oregon City within 90 days of the closure of the votes. Several counties did not do this. These counties, most notably Jackson county, provided a large number of votes for Corvallis. With these votes invalidated, Corvallis sank to rank #3, behind Salem. Fingers were pointed, names were called, and Corvallis was seethed.
The folks in Washington D.C. didn't need to be there to see that this was probably going to be very, very bad. So, Congress did what Congress does best -- They solved the problem by concentrating all this Oregonian confusion and disagreement into a single, concentrated hatred for Washington. They politely told Oregon that they would be building their capitol in Salem. The people of the Oregon Territory did not have the power to change this. Congress would not pay for the construction of any buildings anywhere else but Salem.
Oregon grudgingly did as it was told, and Salem remains the capital of Oregon to this day.