Wallowa County, Oregon facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Wallowa County, Oregon
Map

Location in the state of Oregon
Map of the USA highlighting Oregon
Oregon's location in the U.S.
Statistics
Founded October 14, 1887
Seat Enterprise
Largest City Enterprise
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

3,152 sq mi (8,164 km²)
3,146 sq mi (8,148 km²)
5.5 sq mi (14 km²), 0.2%
PopulationEst.
 - (2015)
 - Density

6,856
2.2/sq mi (1/km²)
Time zone Pacific: UTC-8/-7
Website: co.wallowa.or.us

Wallowa County is a county in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 census, the population was 7,008, making it Oregon's fourth-least populous county. Its county seat is Enterprise. According to Oregon Geographic Names, the origins of the county's name are uncertain, with the most likely explanation being it is derived from the Nez Perce term for a structure of stakes (a weir) used in fishing. An alternative explanation is that Wallowa is derived from a Nez Perce word for "winding water". The journals of Lewis and Clark Expedition record the name of the Wallowa River as Wil-le-wah.

Wallowa County is part of the eight-county definition of Eastern Oregon.

History

In 1871, the first white settlers came to the area, crossing the mountains in search of livestock feed in the Wallowa Valley. The county was established on February 11, 1887, from the eastern portion of Union County. Boundary changes occurred with Union County in 1890, 1900, and 1915.

Chief Joseph-1877

In 1877, the younger Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, incensed at the government's attempt to deprive his people of the Wallowa Valley, refused to relocate to the reservation in north central Idaho. Several regiments of U.S. Army troops were dispatched to force him onto the reservation. After several battles and a march of almost two thousand miles (3,200 km) towards sanctuary in Canada, Chief Joseph was forced to surrender in eastern Montana, forty miles (60 km) from the border with Canada. He and some of the survivors from his band were detained in Oklahoma, and later were relocated to Colville Reservation in northeast Washington. Approximately half of the survivors moved to the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho. Chief Joseph last visited Wallowa County in 1902, and died two years later.

Wallowa County was the scene of perhaps the worst incident of violence against Chinese in Oregon, when in May 1887 a gang of rustlers massacred 10-34 Chinese gold miners in Hells Canyon. Of the seven rustlers and schoolboys believed to have been responsible, only three were brought to trial in Enterprise, where a jury found them not guilty on September 1, 1888. A proposal to commemorate this event on official maps as Chinese Massacre Cove was approved in 2005 and encompasses a five-acre site.

Wallowa County Courthouse was built in 1909–1910, using locally quarried Bowlby stone, a type of volcanic tuff. It is a Romanesque Revival-style building with Queen Anne architectural elements in some exterior features. The courthouse was listed on National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Today, it still houses Wallowa County government offices and faces west toward South River Street and is surrounded by Courthouse Square which encompasses one city block, approximately 1.3 acres (1 ha). The square is landscaped with oak, pine, maple, linden, juniper, and flowering crab apple trees. There are roses planted on the north, west, and south sides of the courthouse. The square also has several veteran memorials along with a 20-by-24-foot (6.1 by 7.3 m) wood-framed gazebo in the northeast corner of the square.

Wallowa mts lake
Wallowa mountains and lake

United States Supreme Court Associate Justice William O. Douglas was one famous summer visitor to Wallowa County, building a vacation cabin on Lostine River Road in 1939.

In December 2003, a developer announced a proposal to buy a 62-acre (0.25 km2) property near Wallowa Lake, and build 11 homes on it. This property is adjacent to the property that is home to the grave of Old Chief Joseph, father of the younger Chief Joseph. This proposal drew opposition from a local group, as well as from the Nez Perce, Colville, and Umatilla tribes. Prior offers by the National Park Service and the Trust for Public Land to buy the land were rejected. The County commissioners gave conditional approval for the developers to complete a final plat of the land on February 13, 2004, but the attorney for the Nez Perce said the tribe would appeal the decision to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.

Geography

Wallowa is the northeasternmost county of Oregon. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,152 square miles (8,160 km2), of which 3,146 square miles (8,150 km2) is land and 5.5 square miles (14 km2) (0.2%) is water.

Geographic features

Wallowa Lake and the Wallowa Mountains attract tourists to this region. The lake is a natural glacial formation, held in on three sides by prominent moraines. The microclimate is somewhat different from the surrounding areas and provides a cool retreat during the summer. Other geographic features include:

  • Grande Ronde River
  • Joseph Canyon
  • Hells Canyon
  • Wallowa River

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

  • Nez Perce National Historical Park (part)
  • Umatilla National Forest (part)
  • Wallowa–Whitman National Forest (part)
  • Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (part)

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 3,661
1900 5,538 51.3%
1910 8,364 51.0%
1920 9,778 16.9%
1930 7,814 −20.1%
1940 7,623 −2.4%
1950 7,264 −4.7%
1960 7,102 −2.2%
1970 6,247 −12.0%
1980 7,273 16.4%
1990 6,911 −5.0%
2000 7,226 4.6%
2010 7,008 −3.0%
Est. 2015 6,856 −2.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2015

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 7,226 people, 3,029 households, and 2,083 families residing in the county. The population density was 2 people per square mile (1/km²). There were 3,900 housing units at an average density of 1 per square mile (0/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.50% White, 0.03% Black or African American, 0.71% Native American, 0.24% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.95% from other races, and 1.54% from two or more races. 1.73% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 21.8% were of German, 15.7% American, 12.3% English and 11.8% Irish ancestry.

There were 3,029 households out of which 28.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.70% were married couples living together, 6.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.20% were non-families. 27.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the county, the population was spread out with 24.30% under the age of 18, 4.90% from 18 to 24, 21.90% from 25 to 44, 30.00% from 45 to 64, and 18.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 100.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $32,129, and the median income for a family was $38,682. Males had a median income of $28,202 versus $21,558 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,276. About 9.80% of families and 14.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.30% of those under age 18 and 11.40% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 7,008 people, 3,133 households, and 2,024 families residing in the county. The population density was 2.2 inhabitants per square mile (0.85/km2). There were 4,108 housing units at an average density of 1.3 per square mile (0.50/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 96.0% white, 0.6% American Indian, 0.4% black or African American, 0.3% Asian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 0.5% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 2.2% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 28.4% were German, 16.7% were English, 14.6% were Irish, 7.3% were American, and 5.4% were Scotch-Irish.

Of the 3,133 households, 22.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.3% were married couples living together, 7.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 35.4% were non-families, and 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.70. The median age was 50.5 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $41,116 and the median income for a family was $49,961. Males had a median income of $35,963 versus $29,395 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,023. About 9.6% of families and 12.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.4% of those under age 18 and 10.6% of those age 65 or over.

Transportation

Major highways

  • OR 3.svg – Oregon Route 3 – north to Washington, becomes WA-129.svg Route 129
  • OR 82.svg – Oregon Route 82 – west to La Grande, the junction with I-84.svg Interstate 84

Railroads

  • Eagle Cap Excursion Train (part)

Communities

Incorporated cities

Census-designated place

  • Wallowa Lake

Unincorporated communities

Images for kids


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