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Lane County, Oregon facts for kids

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Lane County
Lane County Courthouse in Eugene, built in 1898 and demolished in 1959
Lane County Courthouse in Eugene, built in 1898 and demolished in 1959
Map of Oregon highlighting Lane 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 January 29, 1851
Seat Eugene
Largest city Eugene
 • Total 4,722 sq mi (12,230 km2)
 • Land 4,553 sq mi (11,790 km2)
 • Water 169 sq mi (440 km2)  3.6%%
 • Total 382,971
 • Estimate 
383,189 Increase
 • Density 77/sq mi (30/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
Congressional district 4th

Lane County is one of the 36 counties in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2020 census, the population was 382,971, making it the fourth-most populous county in Oregon. The county seat is Eugene. It is named in honor of Joseph Lane, Oregon's first territorial governor.

Lane County comprises the Eugene, OR Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is the third-largest MSA in Oregon, and the 144th-largest in the country.


Lane County was established on January 29, 1851. It was created from the southern part of Linn County and the portion of Benton County east of Umpqua County. It was named after the territory's first governor, Joseph Lane. Originally it covered all of southern Oregon east to the Rocky Mountains and south to the California border. When the Territorial Legislature created Lane County, it did not designate a county seat. In the 1853 election, four sites competed for the designation, of which the "Mulligan donation" received a majority vote; however, since it was contiguous to the "Skinner claim" both became part of the new county seat known as Eugene.

In 1846 Elijah Bristow and his wife, the former Susannah Gabbart, had become the first white settlers to build a claim cabin within the present-day boundaries of Lane County, near Pleasant Hill. They had crossed the plains to California in the previous year, and came north with Eugene F. Skinner, Captain Felix Scott, and William Dodson. As their party entered the valley between the Coast Fork and Middle Fork of the Willamette River, Bristow gazed around and exclaimed, "What a pleasant hill! Here is my home!"

In 1852 John Diamond and William Macy led an exploration party to survey a shortcut for the Oregon Trail across the Cascade Range. The shortcut over the Willamette Pass became known as the Free Emigrant Road. Around 250 wagons with 1,027 people left the usual Oregon Trail route at Vale, Oregon, and followed Elijah Elliott through the central Oregon high desert. This became known as the Elliott Cutoff. When they reached what is now Bend, they sent scouts to the south to look for the road. Once settlers in the Willamette Valley discovered the emigrants were coming, a huge rescue effort was launched as the emigrants were out of supplies and in dire condition. The emigrants of this wagon train doubled the population of Lane County in 1853.

The county has been vastly reduced from its original size by several boundary changes. One of the first changes gave it access to the Pacific Ocean, when it acquired the northern part of Umpqua County in 1853. With the creation of Wasco County in 1854, it lost all of its territory east of the Cascade Mountains. Minor boundary changes occurred with Douglas County in 1852, 1885, 1903, 1915, and 1917; with Linn County in 1907 and with Benton County in 1923.


Heceta Head angled
Heceta Head on the coastline of Lane County

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 4,722 square miles (12,230 km2), of which 4,553 square miles (11,790 km2) is land and 169 square miles (440 km2) (3.6%) is water. Lane County is one of two Oregon counties that extend from the Pacific Ocean to the Cascades (the other is Douglas County.) A portion of the Umpqua National Forest is in Lane County.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 4,780
1870 6,426 34.4%
1880 9,411 46.5%
1890 15,198 61.5%
1900 19,604 29.0%
1910 33,783 72.3%
1920 36,166 7.1%
1930 54,493 50.7%
1940 69,096 26.8%
1950 125,776 82.0%
1960 162,890 29.5%
1970 213,358 31.0%
1980 275,226 29.0%
1990 282,912 2.8%
2000 322,959 14.2%
2010 351,715 8.9%
Est. 2021 383,189 8.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2020

2010 census

As of the 2010 census, there were 351,715 people, 145,966 households, and 86,938 families living in the county. The population density was 77.2 inhabitants per square mile (29.8/km2). There were 156,112 housing units at an average density of 34.3 per square mile (13.2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 88.3% white, 2.4% Asian, 1.2% American Indian, 1.0% black or African American, 0.2% Pacific islander, 2.8% from other races, and 4.2% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 7.4% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 21.8% were German, 14.9% were English, 13.8% were Irish, and 5.3% were American.

Of the 145,966 households, 26.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.3% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 40.4% were non-families, and 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.87. The median age was 39.0 years.

Lane County pop growth
Graph of the change in county population from 1860 to 2010

The median income for a household in the county was $42,923 and the median income for a family was $55,817. Males had a median income of $43,383 versus $32,745 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,869. About 10.0% of families and 16.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.1% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.

Lane County is the fourth-most populous county in Oregon. It grew more slowly from 2000 to 2010 than did the three larger counties, Multnomah (the most populous Oregon county), Washington and Clackamas.

2020 Census

The racial make up of the county is 77.9% non-Hispanic White, 1.1% African American, .9% Native American, 2.5% Asian, 6.9% mixed race of two or more, 9.9% Hispanic.


Eugene Oregon from Skinner Butte
Downtown Eugene
Honeyman Memorial State Park Cleawox Lake
Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park and part of Cleawox Lake, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, south of Florence

Incorporated cities

Unincorporated communities

Former communities


Growth in the next decades is predicted to shift away from timber and agriculture to services, manufacturing of transportation equipment, printing and publishing, and high technology. As of July 2008, PeaceHealth Medical Group is the largest private employer in Lane County.

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