Fossil, Oregon

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Fossil, Oregon
City
Main Street
Main Street
Location in Oregon
Location in Oregon
Coordinates: 44°59′53″N 120°12′58″W / 44.99806°N 120.21611°W / 44.99806; -120.21611Coordinates: 44°59′53″N 120°12′58″W / 44.99806°N 120.21611°W / 44.99806; -120.21611
Country United States
State Oregon
County Wheeler
Incorporated 1891
Government
 • Mayor Jack Lorts
Area[1]
 • Total 0.79 sq mi (2.05 km2)
 • Land 0.79 sq mi (2.05 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 2,654 ft (809 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 473
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 466
 • Density 598.7/sq mi (231.2/km2)
Time zone Pacific (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific (UTC-7)
ZIP code 97830
Area code(s) 541, 458
FIPS code 41-26650[4]
GNIS feature ID 1120903[5]
Website www.cityoffossil.org

Fossil is a city in and the county seat of Wheeler County, Oregon, United States.[6] The name was chosen by the first postmaster, Thomas B. Hoover, who had found some fossil remains on his ranch. The population was 473 at the 2010 census.[7]

History[edit]

The Fossil post office was established on February 28, 1876, on Thomas Benton Hoover's ranch along Hoover Creek. He named the place Fossil after finding fossils in a clay-like rock formation on his ranch. In 1881, Hoover and Thomas Watson opened a store near the confluence of Butte and Cottonwood creeks and moved the post office to the store. When the city was incorporated in 1891, Hoover became the first mayor.[8]

After creating Wheeler County in 1899, the Oregon Legislature chose Fossil as the temporary county seat. A county-wide election held in 1900 to determine the permanent county seat yielded 436 votes for Fossil, 267 for Twickenham, and 82 for Spray.[9]

Winlock W. Steiwer and George S. Carpenter founded Steiwer & Carpenter Bank, the first bank in the city and the county.[10] By the early 20th century in addition to the bank, Fossil had a flour mill, a blacksmith shop, a drug store, a jewelry and optical store, a livery stable, and three stores with general merchandise. In the 1920s, William Jennings Bryan was one of the guest speakers at a Chautauqua meeting in Fossil. Later in the decade the John Day Valley Coal & Oil Company drilled an exploratory oil well within the city limits, but it was not successful.[8]

Geography and climate[edit]

Fossil is the county seat of Wheeler County.[11] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.79 square miles (2.05 km2), all of it land.[1]

Fossil is located in north-central Oregon at the intersection of Oregon Route 19 with Oregon Route 218.[12] Butte Creek, a tributary of the John Day River, flows through the city.[13] The Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is 18 miles (29 km) west of the city along Route 218.[14] The city is about 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Spray and about 20 miles (32 km) south of Condon along Route 19.[12] By highway, Bend, to the southwest, is about a two-hour drive from Fossil, and Portland, to the west, is about a three-hour drive.[15]

The average temperature in Fossil in January is 39 °F (4 °C), and in July it is 70 °F (21 °C). The highest recorded temperature for Fossil was 111 °F (44 °C) in 2003, and the lowest recorded temperature was −26 °F (−32 °C) in 1957. The average wettest month is May.[16]

Climate data for Fossil, Oregon
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 45
(7)
50
(10)
56
(13)
61
(16)
69
(21)
77
(25)
87
(31)
87
(31)
78
(26)
66
(19)
52
(11)
42
(6)
64.2
(18)
Average low °F (°C) 33
(1)
33
(1)
36
(2)
39
(4)
44
(7)
49
(9)
52
(11)
51
(11)
46
(8)
40
(4)
36
(2)
31
(−1)
40.8
(4.9)
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.44
(36.6)
1.41
(35.8)
1.36
(34.5)
1.49
(37.8)
1.87
(47.5)
1.32
(33.5)
0.53
(13.5)
0.51
(13)
0.68
(17.3)
1.32
(33.5)
1.74
(44.2)
1.62
(41.1)
15.29
(388.3)
Source: [16]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 100
1890 153 53.0%
1900 288 88.2%
1910 421 46.2%
1920 519 23.3%
1930 538 3.7%
1940 532 −1.1%
1950 645 21.2%
1960 672 4.2%
1970 511 −24.0%
1980 535 4.7%
1990 399 −25.4%
2000 469 17.5%
2010 473 0.9%
source:[2][17]

As of the census of 2010, there were 473 people, 224 households, and 124 families residing in the city. The population density was 598.7 inhabitants per square mile (231.2 /km2). There were 265 housing units at an average density of 335.4 per square mile (129.5 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.4% White, 2.7% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.8% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.3% of the population.[2]

There were 224 households of which 18.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.3% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 44.6% were non-families. 40.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 22.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.04 and the average family size was 2.75.[2]

The median age in the city was 56.1 years. 18.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 4.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 14.2% were from 25 to 44; 30.5% were from 45 to 64; and 32.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.0% male and 51.0% female.[2]

At the 2000 census, the median income for a household in the city was $30,250, and the median income for a family was $37,125. Males had a median income of $29,688 versus $20,893 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,236. About 12.0% of families and 12.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.2% of those under age 18 and 3.3% of those age 65 or over.[2]

Arts and culture[edit]

Annual events[edit]

During the second weekend in August, Fossil hosts the Wheeler County Fair and Rodeo; on the first weekend of July the Wheeler County Bluegrass Festival is held on the courthouse lawn.[18] For more than 30 years, the American Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) of Oregon has held motorcycle rallies in the area in late May.[19] Golf tournaments are held each year at a six-hole golf course at Kinzua, near Fossil.[15]

Museums and other points of interest[edit]

Fossil is the site of the only public fossil field in the U.S.[20][21] The field is located behind Wheeler High School.[22] After the initial discovery of the fossil field in 1949 or 1950, access was free and unrestricted until 2005, when a small interpretive center was constructed, and a collection limit of three fossils was established in exchange for a $3 entry fee.[23] The basic entry fee per person in 2011 is $5.[24]

The Oregon Paleolands Institute (OPLI) headquarters and exhibition hall are in Fossil, near the courthouse. OPLI is an educational, community-based non-profit that offers tours, hikes, and workshops related to the region's geology and paleontology.[25]

Education[edit]

Wheeler High School and Fossil Elementary School are in Fossil. In the 2011−12 school year, about 50 students were enrolled in grades 7 through 12 and about 35 in kindergarten through grade 6.[26]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-21. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Fossil City, Oregon". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-10. 
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ "2010 Census profiles: Oregon cities alphabetically D-G" (PDF). Portland State University. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  8. ^ a b Steiwer, Jack; Fussner, F. Smith, ed. (1975). Glimpses of Wheeler County's Past. Portland, Oregon: Binford & Mort. pp. 29−36. ISBN 0-8323-0249-X. 
  9. ^ Stinchfield, Janet L.; Stinchfield, McLaren E., eds. (1983). The History of Wheeler County, Oregon. Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Company. pp. 5−6. OCLC 10948544. 
  10. ^ Corning, Howard M. (1989) Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing. p. 234.
  11. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. 2005. Archived from the original on June 26, 2008. Retrieved December 1, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Rand McNally & Company (2008). The Road Atlas (Map). pp. 84−85. ISBN 0-528-93961-0.
  13. ^ DeLorme Mapping (1991). Oregon Atlas & Gazetteer (Map). pp. 80, 84. ISBN 0-89933-235-8.
  14. ^ "Clarno Unit". National Park Service. July 25, 2006. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "About Fossil". City of Fossil. 2006-10-23. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  16. ^ a b "Monthly averages for Fossil, OR". The Weather Channel. 2011. Retrieved March 11, 2009. 
  17. ^ Moffatt, Riley Moore (1996). Population History of Western U.S. Cities and Towns, 1850–1990. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 209. ISBN 978-0-8108-3033-2. 
  18. ^ "Wheeler County Bluegrass Festival". wheelercountybluegrass.org. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  19. ^ "ABATE plans Fossil Campout fundraiser". Albany Herald Democrat. 2010-05-25. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  20. ^ Lockwood, Brad (2008-02-13). "What Remains: A whirlwind tour of Central Oregon's nearly forgotten history". The Source Weekly. Lay It Out Inc. Retrieved 2009-10-31. 
  21. ^ Robben, Janine (April 2008). "The Only Lawyer in Town". Oregon State Bar Bulletin. Oregon State Bar. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  22. ^ Banse, Tom (2006-01-22). "Oregon County Sees Its Future in Fossils". NPR. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  23. ^ Mortenson, Eric (July 3, 2005). "For $3, Fossil delivers 30 million years". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2009-10-31. 
  24. ^ "Fossils at Wheeler High School". Wheeler County. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  25. ^ "Oregon Paleolands Institute". Oregon Paleolands Institute. 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  26. ^ "Welcome to Fossil Charter School". Fossil School District. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 

External links[edit]