Josephine County, Oregon

Josephine County, Oregon

Infobox U.S. County
county = Josephine County
state = Oregon

map size = 225
founded = January 22, 1856
seat = Grants Pass | area_total_sq_mi =1642
area_land_sq_mi =1640
area_water_sq_mi =2
area percentage = 0.12%
census yr = 2000
pop = 75726
density_km2 =18
web =

Josephine County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. According to "Oregon Geographic Names", the county is probably named after a stream in the area called Josephine Creek, which in turn is probably named after Virginia Josephine Rollins Ort. In 2000, its population was 75,726. The seat of the county is Grants Pass.


Most of the commercial activity during the territorial period centered on gold mining and the supply of provisions to miners. Miners had been active in the Rogue and Illinois valleys since 1851. By the late 1850s, however, gold mining was beginning to decline and population dwindled as well. In 1859, gold was discovered along the Fraser River in British Columbia and numerous people left Josephine County to search for valuable claims there.

Josephine County shares the Rogue Valley and Applegate Valley wine appellations with Jackson County. The U.S. government owns the majority of the land within the county boundaries, with the Bureau of Land Management owning 28% of the lands within the county boundaries, most of which are Oregon and California Railroad lands, and the Forest Service owning 39%.

Grants Pass is now the departure point for most Rogue River scenic waterway guided fishing and boat trips. The Illinois River, one of the Rogue's tributaries, has also been designated a scenic waterway.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,642 square miles (4,252 km²), of which, 1,640 square miles (4,247 km²) of it is land and 2 square miles (5 km²) of it (0.12%) is water.

Adjacent counties

* Curry County, Oregon - (west)
* Jackson County, Oregon - (east)
* Douglas County, Oregon - (north)
* Del Norte County, California - (southwest)
* Siskiyou County, California - (south)

National protected areas

* Oregon Caves National Monument
* Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest (part)


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 75,726 people, 31,000 households, and 21,359 families residing in the county. The population density was 46 people per square mile (18/km²). There were 33,239 housing units at an average density of 20 per square mile (8/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 93.90% White, 0.27% Black or African American, 1.25% Native American, 0.63% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 1.17% from other races, and 2.68% from two or more races. 4.26% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 18.5% were of German, 14.3% English, 10.4% Irish and 9.3% United States or American ancestry according to Census 2000. 95.6% spoke English and 2.8% Spanish as their first language.

There were 31,000 households out of which 26.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.40% were married couples living together, 10.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.10% were non-families. 25.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the county, the population was spread out with 23.10% under the age of 18, 6.50% from 18 to 24, 23.20% from 25 to 44, 27.20% from 45 to 64, and 20.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 94.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $31,229, and the median income for a family was $36,894. Males had a median income of $30,798 versus $22,734 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,234. About 11.30% of families and 15.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.10% of those under age 18 and 6.80% of those age 65 or over.


The discovery of rich placers at Sailor Diggings (later known as Waldo) in 1852 and the resulting gold rush brought the first settlers to this region. Several U.S. Army forts were maintained in the county and many engagements during the Rogue River Indian War (1855-1858) took place within its boundaries.

Josephine County was created by the Territorial Legislature on January 22, 1856, from the western half of Jackson County. It was the nineteenth, and last, county created before statehood.

The county seat was originally located in Sailor Diggings (later known as Waldo) citation |title=110 Years with Josephine: The History of Josephine County, Oregon |date=1966 |page=10-19 |periodical=The Josephine County Historical Society |author=Jack Sutton] , but in July 1857 was relocated to Kerby, situated on the main route between the port of Crescent City, California and the gold fields. In June 1886 the voters of Josephine County considered three towns for the new county seat. These were: Kerby, Wilderville and Grants Pass. Grants Pass won with 116 votes out of the 716 ballots cast. citation |title=Josephine County Historical Highlights |date=1976 |page=73, 74 |periodical=Josephine County Library System & Josephine County Historical Society |author=Edna May Hill] In 1885, the residents of Josephine County annexed Grants Pass from Jackson County from which Josephine was originally formed. This was done primarily to have a railroad head within the new county.

Although several tribes of Native Americans lived in the area from which Josephine County was created, most of their members had been moved to the reservation at Grand Ronde by the end of the Rogue River Indian War. Soon afterwards all Indians in southwest Oregon, with the exception of a few tiny bands, were moved to the Coast reservation (later known as the Siletz Reservation)

Josephine County was also the home to a large Chinese population. Most had come to the area to work gold claims purchased from whites no longer interested in working them. Even though they could not own land, they had to pay a tax to mine gold, and were relegated to inferior claims.

In November 2006, voters rejected a library levy causing the libraries in Josephine County to shut down.Fact|date=February 2007


Incorporated cities

*Cave Junction
*Grants Pass

Unincorporated cities and CDPs


External links

* [ County Website]

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