Jefferson County, Oregon

Jefferson County, Oregon
Jefferson County, Oregon
Jefferson County Courthouse in Madras
Map of Oregon highlighting Jefferson County
Location in the state of Oregon
Map of the U.S. highlighting Oregon
Oregon's location in the U.S.
Founded December 12, 1914
Seat Madras
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

1,791 sq mi (4,639 km²)
1,781 sq mi (4,613 km²)
10 sq mi (26 km²), 0.58%
 - (2010)
 - Density

12/sq mi (4.7/km²)

Jefferson County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. In 2010, its population was 21,720. It is named after Mount Jefferson. The seat of the county is Madras.



Jefferson County was created on December 12, 1914, from a portion of Crook County. The county owes much of its agricultural prosperity to the railroad, which links Madras with the Columbia River, and was completed in 1911, and to the development of irrigation projects in the late 1930s. The railroad was completed despite constant feuds and battles between two lines working on opposite sides of the Deschutes River.

Madras was incorporated in 1911, and has been the permanent county seat since a general election in 1916. The first (temporary) county seat was Culver, which was selected by a three man commission appointed by the governor. Due to repeated tie votes over several days (with one vote each cast for Culver, Metolius and Madras). The deadlock was eventually broken by allowing the Metolius Commissioner to post the tie-breaker, by voting for Culver. [1]

Rapid development in adjacent Deschutes County, Oregon during the 1990s has farmers in Jefferson County concerned that they may be priced out of their own farmlands, which could be replaced by destination resorts, golf courses, and other amenities for recent arrivals.[citation needed]


Agriculture is the predominant source of income in this county, with vegetable, grass and flower seeds, garlic, mint and sugar beets cultivated on some 60,000 acres (240 km2) of irrigated land. Jefferson County also has vast rangelands and an industrial base related to forest products. The Warm Springs Forest Products Industry, a multi-million dollar complex owned by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs — partially located in the northwestern corner of the county — is the single biggest industry. With 300 days of sunshine and a low yearly rainfall, fishing, hunting, camping, boating, water-skiing and rock hunting are major tourist activities.

The major landowners in the county are the Forest Service, which owns 24% of the lands within the county boundaries, and the Warm Springs Reservation, which owns 21%.


Though Jefferson County is located in central Oregon, politically it falls in line with the eastern side of the state. The majority of registered voters who are part of a political party in Jefferson County, as well as most counties in eastern Oregon, are members of the Republican Party.[1] In the 2008 presidential election, 51.47% of Jefferson County voters voted for Republican John McCain, while 43.05% voted for Democrat Barack Obama and 5.46% of voters either voted for a Third Party candidate or wrote in a candidate.[2] These numbers show a small shift towards the Democratic candidate as well as a Third Party candidate when compared to the 2004 presidential election, in which 58.7% of Jefferson Country voters voted for George W. Bush, while 40% voted for John Kerry, and 1.3% of voters either voted for a Third Party candidate or wrote in a candidate.[3]



According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,791 square miles (4,638.7 km2), of which 1,781 square miles (4,612.8 km2) is land and 10 square miles (25.9 km2) (0.58%) is water.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


From 2000 to 2007, Jefferson County's population grew by 15.9%, more than twice the national average. It was the third fastest growing county in the state, after neighboring Deschutes and Crook counties.
Historical populations
Census Pop.
1920 3,211
1930 2,291 −28.7%
1940 2,042 −10.9%
1950 5,536 171.1%
1960 7,130 28.8%
1970 8,548 19.9%
1980 11,599 35.7%
1990 13,676 17.9%
2000 19,009 39.0%
2010 21,720 14.3%

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 19,009 people, 6,727 households, and 5,166 families residing in the county. The population density was 11 people per square mile (4/km²). There were 8,319 housing units at an average density of 5 per square mile (2/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 68.98% White, 0.26% Black or African American, 15.68% Native American, 0.30% Asian, 0.22% Pacific Islander, 11.32% from other races, and 3.23% from two or more races. 17.74% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 13.6% were of German, 9.5% English, 8.7% American and 5.3% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000. 82.2% spoke English, 15.5% Spanish and 1.0% Sahaptian as their first language.

There were 6,727 households out of which 35.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.50% were married couples living together, 10.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.20% were non-families. 18.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.80 and the average family size was 3.16.

In the county, the population was spread out with 29.80% under the age of 18, 7.70% from 18 to 24, 26.90% from 25 to 44, 23.20% from 45 to 64, and 12.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 101.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $35,853, and the median income for a family was $39,151. Males had a median income of $31,126 versus $22,086 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,675. About 10.40% of families and 14.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.20% of those under age 18 and 5.90% of those age 65 or over.


Incorporated cities

Unincorporated communities and CDPs

  • Geneva
  • Grandview
  • Grizzly

Ghost Towns

See also


Coordinates: 44°38′N 121°10′W / 44.63°N 121.17°W / 44.63; -121.17

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