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 Carol E. MacInnes
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)
Average 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 (1975). Fussner, F. Smith, ed. 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 The Road Atlas (Map). Rand McNally & Company. 2008. pp. 84−85. ISBN 0-528-93961-0. 
  13. ^ Oregon Atlas & Gazetteer (Map). DeLorme Mapping. 1991. 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" (PDF). 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]