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Jefferson County, Oregon facts for kids

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Jefferson County
Jefferson County Courthouse in Madras
Jefferson County Courthouse in Madras
Map of Oregon highlighting Jefferson County
Location within the U.S. state of Oregon
Map of the United States highlighting Oregon
Oregon's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Oregon
Founded December 12, 1914
Seat Madras
Largest city Madras
 • Total 1,791 sq mi (4,640 km2)
 • Land 1,781 sq mi (4,610 km2)
 • Water 10 sq mi (30 km2)  0.6%%
 • Total 24,502
 • Estimate 
25,068 Increase
 • Density 12/sq mi (5/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
Congressional district 2nd

Jefferson County is one of the 36 counties in the U.S. state of Oregon. At the 2020 census, the population was 24,502. The county seat is Madras. The county is named after Mount Jefferson.


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.


According to the U.S. 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.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

  • Crooked River National Grassland
  • Deschutes National Forest (part)
  • Mount Hood National Forest (part)
  • Willamette National Forest (part)


Historical population
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%
2020 24,502 12.8%
2021 (est.) 25,068 15.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2020
Oregon Population Growth by County
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.

2010 census

At the 2010 census, there were 21,720 people, 7,790 households and 5,646 families living in the county. The population density was 12.2 per square mile (4.7/km2). There were 9,815 housing units at an average density of 5.5 per square mile (2.1/km2). The racial make-up was 69.0% white, 16.9% American Indian, 0.6% black or African American, 0.4% Asian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 9.1% from other races, and 3.8% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 19.3% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 15.0% were German, 9.4% were Irish, 8.3% were English, and 4.9% were American.

Of the 7,790 households, 34.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.6% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 27.5% were non-families, and 22.2% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.11. The median age was 39.6 years.

The median household income was $41,425 and the median family income was $48,818. Males had a median income of $37,370 and females $30,047. The per capita income was $20,009. About 13.5% of families and 20.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.6% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


Agriculture is the predominant source of income in the 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 until 2016 had an industrial base related to forest products. The Warm Springs Forest Products Industry, a multimillion-dollar complex owned by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs — partially located in the northwestern corner of the county — was 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 manages National Forest System Lands the comprise 24% of the lands within the county boundaries, and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs-Warm Springs Reservation, which owns and manages 21% of the lands within the county boundaries.

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