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Oregon Counties
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Oregon Counties

There are thyirty-six counties in the state of Oregon. The Oregon Constitution does not explicitly provide for county seats.

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Wallowa County, Oregon

Wallowa County Education, Geography, and HistoryWallowa County, Oregon Courthouse

Wallowa County is a county located in the state of Oregon. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 7,008, making it the fourth-least populous county in Oregon. Its county seat is Enterprise. According to Oregon Geographic Names, the origins of the county's name are uncertain, with the most likely explanation being that it is derived from the Nez Perce term for a structure of stakes (a weir) used in fishing. An alternative explanation is that Wallowa is derived from a Nez Perce word for "winding water". The journals of Lewis and Clark Expedition record the name of the Wallowa River as Wil-le-wah.

Etymology - Origin of Wallowa County Name

The Wallowa Mountains are an important geographical feature of the county. They are unlike other mountain ranges in the state due to their granitic rather than volcanic origin. They take their name from the Wallowa River that is formed by the confluence of the east and west forks about a mile south of Wallowa Lake and eventually flows into the Grande Ronde River. Wallowa is a Nez Perce word for "fish trap."

Demographics:

County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

Wallowa County History

Wallowa County was established on February 11, 1887, out of the eastern portion of Union County. It is the northeastern most county of Oregon. Subsequent boundary changes occurred in 1890, 1900, and 1915 when land was acquired from or transferred to Union County. Wallowa County is now bounded on the north by the State of Washington, on the east by the Snake River which is the boundary with the State of Idaho, on the south by Baker County, and on the west by Union County. The county's area is 3,153 square miles. Its 2000 population of 7,226 was an increase of 4.56% over 1990.

In 1877 the younger Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, incensed at the government's attempt to deprive his people of the Wallowa Valley, refused to be moved to an Idaho reservation. Several regiments of United States troops were dispatched to force him onto the reservation. After a number of battles and a thousand-mile retreat, Chief Joseph was compelled to surrender. He and the remnants of his band were removed to Oklahoma and later were relocated to a reservation in Washington State.

The Wallowa Mountains are an important geographical feature of the county. They are unlike other mountain ranges in the state due to their granitic rather than volcanic origin. They take their name from the Wallowa River that is formed by the confluence of the east and west forks about a mile south of Wallowa Lake and eventually flows into the Grande Ronde River. Wallowa is a Nez Perce word for "fish trap."

The City of Enterprise serves as the county seat. The City of Joseph was named the interim county seat until a general election chose Enterprise as the county seat in 1888. A proposition to contribute to the building of a county courthouse by sixty citizens was turned down by the county court in 1899. It was not until 1909 that a courthouse was built. Constructed of native stone the building continues to house county offices. Enterprise, in addition to being the county seat, is the Wallowa Valley's trade center for ranchers and has local offices for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

County government consists of a county court made up of a county judge and two commissioners. Other offices include clerk, sheriff, assessor, treasurer, and surveyor.

Principal industries in Wallowa County are agriculture, livestock, lumber, tourism, and recreation.

Geography: Land and Water

Wallowa is the northeastern most county of Oregon. As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,152 square miles (8,160 km2), of which 3,146 square miles (8,150 km2) is land and 5.5 square miles (14 km2) (0.2%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Umatilla County (west)
  • Union County (west)
  • Baker County (south)
  • Adams County, Idaho (southeast)
  • Idaho County, Idaho (east)
  • Nez Perce County, Idaho (northeast)
  • Asotin County, Washington (north)
  • Garfield County, Washington (north)
  • Columbia County, Washington (north)

Education

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