Morrow County, Oregon

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Morrow County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon, on the south side of the Columbia River. It is included in the 8 county definition of Eastern Oregon. The county is named for one of its first white settlers, Jackson L. Morrow, who was a member of the state legislature when the county was created. Half of the Umatilla Chemical Depot, which includes the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, is located within the county. In 2000, the county's population was 10,996. The seat of the county is Heppner.

Morrow County is part of the PendletonHermiston Micropolitan Statistical Area.



Morrow County was created on February 15, 1884 from the western portion of Umatilla County and a small portion of eastern Wasco County. Heppner was designated the temporary county seat at the time the county was created and narrowly defeated Lexington in the election held in 1887 to determine the permanent county seat.


The principal industries in the county today include agriculture, food processing, lumber, livestock, and recreation. The Columbia River also provides Morrow County with a number of related jobs. A coal-fired generating plant in Boardman also employs a significant number of people.

Early cattlemen found an abundance of rye along the creek bottoms of the region and drove their herds into the area to forage on these natural pastures. Ranching was the primary economic force in the county for many years. Increased settlement, the enclosure of the free grazing lands and diminished pastures due to overgrazing, resulted in the decline of ranching during the 19th century, and farming became predominant. The completion of rail lines into the county in 1883 increased access to markets and encouraged wheat production in the area. The advent of technology for center pivot irrigation has been a further stimulus to the local economy.

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