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Oregon County, Missouri facts for kids

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Oregon County
Oregon County Courthouse in Alton
Oregon County Courthouse in Alton
Map of Missouri highlighting Oregon County
Location within the U.S. state of Missouri
Map of the United States highlighting Missouri
Missouri's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Missouri
Founded February 14, 1845
Named for Oregon Territory
Seat Alton
Largest city Thayer
 • Total 792 sq mi (2,050 km2)
 • Land 790 sq mi (2,000 km2)
 • Water 1.7 sq mi (4 km2)  0.2%
 • Total 8,635
 • Density 10.903/sq mi (4.2096/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 8th

Oregon County is a county located in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Missouri. As of the 2020 census, the population was 8,635. Its county seat is Alton. The county was officially organized on February 14, 1845, and was named for the Oregon Territory in the northwestern United States.

Home to a large area of the Mark Twain National Forest, Oregon County contains more national forest acreage than any county in the state of Missouri. It also contains the Irish Wilderness, the largest federally protected wilderness area in the state. Hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding opportunities abound on the Ozark Trail and the White's Creek Trail. Canoeing, kayaking, jonboating, and fishing are popular on the Eleven Point River, which is Missouri's only National Wild and Scenic River.

Eleven Point State Park is under development east of Alton, Missouri that includes 6 miles of Eleven Point River frontage.

Grand Gulf State Park is just west of Thayer that includes a collapsed karst canyon.


Oregon County was created in 1845, at a time when the Oregon boundary dispute was a major issue.

During the American Civil War, men from Oregon County enlisted to fight for the Confederate States of America on three separate occasions.

In July 1861, the Second Infantry Regiment of McBride's Seventh Division, Missouri State Guard was formed. Oregon County men made up Companies A, D, F, and G. On August 10, 1861 they fought at the Battle of Wilsons Creek near Springfield and were victorious.

In early 1862 the Missouri State Guard was disbanded and regular Confederate Army units were formed. During February and March 1862, Oregon County men were mustered into companies D and I of the Fourth Missouri Infantry Regiment. The Fourth Missouri was sent to Mississippi, where they took part in the Battle of Corinth on October 3–4, 1862. The Oregon County men suffered heavy losses to both disease and battle casualties, and surrendered with 30,000 other Confederates after the Siege of Vicksburg ended on July 4, 1863.

In the late winter and spring of 1864, Major Matthew G. Norman began organizing a regiment of cavalry. They would join with men from northern Arkansas men led by Lt. Colonel James H. Tracy to form Fristoe's Regiment, Missouri Cavalry. Colonel Edward T. Fristoe, a native of Rappahannock, Virginia, would lead his regiment during General Sterling Price's ill-fated Missouri raid in the fall of 1864.

Other units Oregon County men enlisted in were Freeman's Regiment, Missouri Cavalry, and the Fifteenth Missouri Cavalry Regiment from neighboring Ripley County. Only a few Oregon County men joined the Union Army. Oregon County suffered greatly during the war from raids by Union troops, as well as from atrocities committed by bushwhackers supporting neither side.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 792 square miles (2,050 km2), of which 790 square miles (2,000 km2) is land and 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2) (0.2%) is water. Arkansas is located to the south of Oregon County.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

National protected area


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 1,432
1860 3,009 110.1%
1870 3,287 9.2%
1880 5,791 76.2%
1890 10,467 80.7%
1900 13,906 32.9%
1910 14,681 5.6%
1920 12,889 −12.2%
1930 12,220 −5.2%
1940 13,390 9.6%
1950 11,978 −10.5%
1960 9,845 −17.8%
1970 9,180 −6.8%
1980 10,238 11.5%
1990 9,470 −7.5%
2000 10,344 9.2%
2010 10,881 5.2%
2020 8,635 −20.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2015

As of the census of 2000, there were 10,344 people, 4,263 households, and 3,018 families residing in the county. The population density was 13 people per square mile (5/km2). There were 4,997 housing units at an average density of 6 per square mile (2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 94.61% White, 0.10% Black or African American, 2.88% Native American, 0.14% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.08% from other races, and 2.19% from two or more races. Approximately 1.09% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Among the major first ancestries reported in Oregon County were 29.7% American, 13.4% English, 13.1% Irish, and 13.0% German.

There were 4,263 households, out of which 29.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.80% were married couples living together, 8.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.20% were non-families. 26.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 24.30% under the age of 18, 7.00% from 18 to 24, 24.10% from 25 to 44, 26.50% from 45 to 64, and 18.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 96.40 males. For every 100 women age 18 and over, there were 92.80 men.

The median income for a household in the county was $26,119, and the median income for a family was $31,637. Males had a median income of $22,304 versus $16,353 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,043. About 16.30% of families and 22.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.20% of those under age 18 and 20.00% of those age 65 or over. Of the state's 115 counties, in 2010 Oregon ranked last in terms of poverty.


According to the Association of Religion Data Archives County Membership Report (2010), Oregon County is a part of the Bible Belt with evangelical Protestantism being the majority religion. The most predominant denominations among residents in Oregon County who adhere to a religion are Southern Baptists (46.0%), National Association of Free Will Baptists (30.1%), and Churches of Christ (9.1%).



Census-designated place

Other unincorporated places


Of adults 25 years of age and older in Oregon County, 72.0% possesses a high school diploma or higher while 9.1% holds a bachelor's degree or higher as their highest educational attainment.

Public schools

  • Alton R-IV School District - Alton
    • Alton Elementary School (K-06)
    • Alton High School (07-12)
  • Couch R-I School District - Myrtle
    • Couch Elementary School (K-06)
    • Couch High School (07-12)
  • Oregon-Howell R-III School District - Koshkonong
    • Koshkonong Elementary School (K-06)
    • Koshkonong High School (07-12)
  • Thayer R-II School District - Thayer
    • Thayer Elementary School (K-06)
    • Thayer High School (07-12)

Public libraries

  • Oregon County Library District

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Oregón para niños

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