Jefferson County, Oregon

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Jefferson County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. In 2000, its population was 19,009. 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.

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