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.

Jefferson County, Oregon

Jefferson County Education, Geography, and HistoryJefferson County, Oregon Courthouse

Jefferson County is a county located in the state of Oregon. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 21,720. The county seat is Madras. The county is named after Mount Jefferson.

Etymology - Origin of Jefferson County Name

Madras, named after the city in India, was incorporated in 1911 and serves as the county seat.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Jefferson County History

Jefferson County was created on December 12, 1914, out of territory that was once part of Crook County. The county was named after Mount Jefferson, the second highest peak in Oregon with an elevation of 10,497 feet, which marks the county's western skyline. The county is bounded on the north by Wasco County, on the east by Wheeler and Crook Counties, on the south by Deschutes County, and on the west by Linn and Marion Counties. The county encompasses 1791 square miles.

Madras, named after the city in India, was incorporated in 1911 and serves as the county seat. A new county courthouse was built in 1961. County government is administered by a three-member board of commissioners.

The county's population at its first federal census in 1920 was 3,211. The 2000 population of 19,009 represented a 39% increase from 1990.

Principle industries are agriculture, forest products, and recreation. The fertile North Unit Irrigation District in the central part of the county produces seed, potatoes, hay, and mint. The eastern part of the county has dry wheat farming and grazing land for cattle, and the western part is timber country. Warm Springs Forest Product Industries and Kah-Nee Ta Vacation Resort, owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, provide many jobs in the area. The reservation is located on portions of land in four counties including 236,082 acres in the northwestern corner of Jefferson County.

The county owes much of its agricultural prosperity to the arrival of the railroad in 1911 and to the development of irrigation projects in the late 1930s. The railroad, linking Madras with the Columbia River, was completed after constant feuds and battles between two lines working opposite sides of the Deschutes River.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,791 square miles (4,640 km2), of which 1,791 square miles (4,640 km2) is land and 10 square miles (26 km2) (0.6%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Wheeler County (east)
  • Crook County (south)
  • Deschutes County (south)
  • Linn County (west)
  • Marion County (northwest)
  • Wasco County (north)


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