Since You Asked: Oregon has more than a dozen plates
I saw that Since You Asked column about the tree at the center of the plate — Who knew? Oregon’s state tree — but it seems like I see a lot of plates on the road that don’t have that tree. How many different license plate designs does Oregon have?
— Archie, via email
To what we can only imagine as the chagrin of most patrol officers in our fair state, the days of spotting an Oregon vehicle the yellow-and-blue color pattern are long, long gone.
As we mentioned last week, Oregon’s standard “tree” plate has been the state’s go-to default design since 1988, and used with its pleasant green tree and blue-sky color motif since the later part of 1990.
Counting those license plates as one design, and forgetting about the first draft’s drab khaki skies, you’ll still end up with more than a dozen plate designs for standard passenger cars.
As far as we can recall, it started with the special Oregon Trail plate in the mid 1990s — with its covered-wagon motif — which we’ll count as number two.
We’ll break chronological order here, because we’re drawing from an Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services list of regular plates for the remaining plates.
At number three we have the navy blue Oregon “Share the Road” plate with gold bicyclist design. The four-digit custom plate includes one-time donations to Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Cycle Oregon.
At number four is a red, white and blue plate design for veterans, complete with American flag. The patriotic design is used for a handful veterans organizations such as Vietnam Veterans of America and Non-Commissioned Officers Association. Other veteran plates, however, use the standard tree design, such as the Paralyzed Veterans of America plate.
The fifth plate we count is those Crater Lake plates, which start with the letters “CA” and include a striking silkscreened image of Oregon’s unique lake — and key draw of the state’s only national park. They were introduced in 2002 and are still available. Opting for the plate gives the Oregon Community Foundation a one-time $30 donation for use on Crater Lake National Park projects.
At number six is the Oregon “Cultural Trust” plates, which include an OCF donation for cultural development.
Number seven is those “Wine Country” plates that seem to come with every high-end sports and luxury car in the Rogue Valley. Those plates support the Oregon Tourism Commission.
We count the Oregon Salmon plate at number eight. The five-digit plates, which start with “SL” include a one-time donation to the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and the Parks and Recreation Department fund.
For number nine, we count the “Gray Whale” plate, which starts with “GW” and includes “Coastal Playground” at the bottom. Those plates include a donation to the OSU Marine mammal Institute.
At number 10 we have the “Smokey Bear” plate, which includes a donation to the Keep Oregon Green Association.
We count at number 11 the Oregon TrailBlazers plate, with its white, black and red design and “Rip City” image below. The plates support the Trail Blazers Foundation, according to the Oregon DMV.
At 12, we count the “Pacific Wonderland” plates, which are a throwback to the plates Oregon had until the end of the 1960s. The plate design was created in 2009 in celebration of the state’s sesquicentennial (150th birthday), and the $100 plate fee includes donations to the Oregon State Capitol Foundation and the Oregon Historical Society.
The 13th plate we count is the green-and-yellow “Oregon Ducks” plate, complete with classic the team’s logo used in a time before Disney licenses and the “O” design inspired by Autzen Stadium and Hayward Field. Plate fees go to the University of Oregon Alumni Association.
Alumni of Oregon State University, Linfield College, Willamette University and University of Portland, don’t have quite as snazzy a choice, but they can get their alma mater’s logo on the left of a standard “tree” plate.
Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.