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Malheur County, Oregon facts for kids

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Malheur County
Malheur County Courthouse in Vale
Malheur County Courthouse in Vale
Map of Oregon highlighting Malheur 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 February 17, 1887
Named for Malheur River
Seat Vale
Largest city Ontario
Area
 • Total 9,930 sq mi (25,700 km2)
 • Land 9,888 sq mi (25,610 km2)
 • Water 42 sq mi (110 km2)  0.4%%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 31,571
 • Estimate 
(2021)
31,693 Increase
 • Density 3.2/sq mi (1.2/km2)
Time zones
primary UTC−7 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
southern fifth UTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
Congressional district 2nd

Malheur County (pronounce:) is one of the 36 counties in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2020 census, the population was 31,571. Its county seat is Vale, and its largest city is Ontario. The county was named after the Malheur River, which runs through the county. The word "malheur" is French for misfortune or tragedy.

Malheur County is included in the Ontario, Oregon Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Boise Combined Statistical Area. It is included in the eight-county definition of Eastern Oregon.

History

Malheur County was created February 17, 1887, from the southern portion of Baker County. It was first settled by miners and stockmen in the early 1860s. The discovery of gold in 1863 attracted further development, including settlements and ranches. Basques settled in the region in the 1890s and were mainly engaged in sheep raising.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 9,930 square miles (25,700 km2), of which 9,888 square miles (25,610 km2) is land and 42 square miles (110 km2) (0.4%) is water. It is the second-largest county in Oregon by area. It is the only county in Oregon in the Mountain Time Zone.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

See also: Bully Creek Reservoir

Highways

  • I-84.svg Interstate 84
  • US 20.svg US 20
  • US 26.svg US 26
  • US 30.svg US 30
  • US 95.svg US 95
  • OR 78.svg OR 78
  • OR 201.svg OR 201
PillarsOfRomePano1
Pillars of Rome, near Rome

Time zones

UTC hue4map US-OR
Most of Malheur County (shown in red) is in the Mountain Time Zone; a small portion in the southern part of the county is in the Pacific Time Zone along with the rest of the state of Oregon and neighboring Nevada.

Because of its economic relationship with Idaho, most of the county is in the Mountain time zone, making it the only county in Oregon that does not completely follow Pacific Time. The largely unpopulated southern quarter of the county, near McDermitt, observes Pacific Time. The legal dividing line between the two begins at the southwest corner of township 35 S, range 37 E and continues east to the Oregon–Idaho border, crossing Highway 95 at approximately 42.45° N. latitude. (Precisely, 42 degrees, 27.166 minutes. The official Oregon sign marking the crossing is in the wrong place, about ten miles north.) Malheur is one of the few counties in the U.S. that legally observes two different time zones.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 2,601
1900 4,203 61.6%
1910 8,601 104.6%
1920 10,907 26.8%
1930 11,269 3.3%
1940 19,767 75.4%
1950 23,223 17.5%
1960 22,764 −2.0%
1970 23,169 1.8%
1980 26,896 16.1%
1990 26,038 −3.2%
2000 31,615 21.4%
2010 31,313 −1.0%
2020 31,571 0.8%
2021 (est.) 31,693 1.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2020

2010 census

As of the 2010 census, there were 31,313 people, 10,411 households, and 7,149 families living in the county. The population density was 3.2 inhabitants per square mile (1.2/km2). There were 11,692 housing units at an average density of 1.2 per square mile (0.46/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 77.5% white, 1.7% Asian, 1.2% American Indian, 1.2% black or African American, 0.1% Pacific islander, 15.5% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 31.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 16.2% were German, 11.9% were English, 10.3% were Irish, and 9.9% were American.

Of the 10,411 households, 34.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 31.3% were non-families, and 26.0% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.24. The median age was 36.2 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $39,144 and the median income for a family was $46,136. Males had a median income of $33,234 versus $27,883 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,335. About 15.2% of families and 22.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.1% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.

Communities

Amalgamated Sugar Co. plant, Nyssa, OR
A sugar beet plant of the Amalgamated Sugar Company in Nyssa

Cities

Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Economy

The county is 94% rangeland, with the Bureau of Land Management controlling 72% of the land. Irrigated fields in the county's northeast corner, known as Western Treasure Valley, are the center of intensive and diversified farming. Malheur County's economy also depends on tourism.

The county's two largest employers are Heinz of Ontario, a potato processor branded as Ore-Ida, and the Snake River Correctional Institution, five miles northwest of Ontario.

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