Gilliam County, Oregon

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Gilliam County, Oregon
Gilliam County Courthouse in Condon
Map of Oregon highlighting Gilliam County
Location in the state of Oregon
Map of the United States highlighting Oregon
Oregon's location in the U.S.
Founded February 25, 1885
Seat Condon
Largest city Condon
 • Total 1,223 sq mi (3,168 km2)
 • Land 1,205 sq mi (3,121 km2)
 • Water 18 sq mi (47 km2), 1.5%
Population (est.)
 • (2014) 1,932
 • Density 1.6/sq mi (1/km²)
Congressional district 2nd

Gilliam County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,871,[1] making it the third-least populous county in Oregon. The county seat is Condon.[2] The county was established in 1885 and is named for Cornelius Gilliam,[3] who commanded the forces of the provisional government of Oregon after the Whitman Massacre.


Old grain elevator in Gwendolen, in Gilliam County.

The Oregon Legislative Assembly created Gilliam County on February 25, 1885, from the eastern third of Wasco County after residents complained that they were too far from their county seat in The Dalles. The first Gilliam county seat was at Alkali, now Arlington. The question of a permanent county seat was placed on general election ballots in 1886, 1888, and again in 1890, when voters chose to move the county seat to Condon, known to early settlers as "Summit Springs." Once the question of the location of the county seat was settled, voters in Gilliam County proved reluctant to provide a courthouse in Condon. The county government operated out of a two-room house until 1903, when the county court appropriated money to construct a courthouse. This courthouse burned down in 1954 and was replaced the following year with the current courthouse.

Thereafter, apparently nothing much happened until the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm, an 845 megawatt (MW) wind farm, began construction in Eastern Oregon, in both Gilliam and Morrow counties, near Arlington. Approved in 2008 by state regulators, groundbreaking came in 2009. The wind farm was being built by Caithness Energy using General Electric (GE) 2.5 MW wind turbines, and it will supply electricity to Southern California Edison. In April, 2011, Google announced they had invested $100 million in the project. The wind farm was estimated to have an economic impact of $16 million annually for Oregon.


Sunrise in Gilliam County

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,223 square miles (3,170 km2), of which 1,205 square miles (3,120 km2) is land and 18 square miles (47 km2) (1.5%) is water.[4]

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 3,600
1900 3,201 −11.1%
1910 3,701 15.6%
1920 3,960 7.0%
1930 3,467 −12.4%
1940 2,844 −18.0%
1950 2,817 −0.9%
1960 3,069 8.9%
1970 2,342 −23.7%
1980 2,057 −12.2%
1990 1,717 −16.5%
2000 1,915 11.5%
2010 1,871 −2.3%
Est. 2014 1,932 [5] 3.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790-1960[7] 1900-1990[8]
1990-2000[9] 2010-2014[1]

As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 1,915 people, 819 households, and 543 families residing in the county. The population density was 2 people per square mile (1/km²). There were 1,043 housing units at an average density of 1 per square mile (0/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.76% White, 0.16% Black or African American, 0.84% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 1.15% from other races, and 0.94% from two or more races. 1.83% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 18.2% were of German, 18.1% American, 12.6% English, 12.5% Irish and 5.3% Scottish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 819 households out of which 27.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.90% were married couples living together, 5.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.60% were non-families. 29.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the county, the population was spread out with 23.20% under the age of 18, 5.40% from 18 to 24, 25.60% from 25 to 44, 26.70% from 45 to 64, and 19.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 102.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $33,611, and the median income for a family was $41,477. Males had a median income of $30,915 versus $20,852 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,659. About 6.70% of families and 9.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.00% of those under age 18 and 6.60% of those age 65 or over.

Government and infrastructure[edit]

The Northern Oregon Regional Corrections Facility (Norcor), a short-term jail, serves Gilliam, Hood River, Sherman, and Wasco counties.[11]



Though Gilliam County is located in central Oregon, politically it falls in line with the eastern side of the state. The majority of registered voters who are part of a political party in Gilliam County, as well as most counties in eastern Oregon, are members of the Republican Party.[12] In the 2008 presidential election, 58.36% of Gilliam County voters voted for Republican John McCain, while 38.74% voted for Democrat Barack Obama and 2.88% of voters either voted for a Third Party candidate or wrote in a candidate.[citation needed] These numbers show a small but clear shift towards the Democratic candidate when compared to the 2004 presidential election, in which 66.3% of Gilliam Country voters voted for George W. Bush, while 32.5% voted for John Kerry, and 1.2% of voters either voted for a Third Party candidate or wrote in a candidate.[13]


Gilliam County is in the heart of the Columbia River Plateau wheat-growing region. The economy is based on agriculture, and wheat, barley and beef cattle are the principal products. Properties are large, with an average farm size of about 4,200 acres (17 km2).

The largest individual employers in the county are two subsidiaries of Waste Management Inc., Chemical Waste Management of the Northwest and Oregon Waste Systems, Inc., who run two regional waste disposal landfills. By levying a fee of $1 a ton, Gilliam County receives enough money to pay the first $500 of the property tax bills of its inhabitants, an amount that covers the full tax bill for almost half of the county inhabitants, as well as funding other county projects.

Hunting, fishing and tourism are secondary industries. Transportation also contributes to the local economy; two major rivers, the John Day and Columbia, cross the area east-to-west, as does Interstate 84. Oregon Route 19 connects the county's major cities north-to-south and provides access to the John Day Valley.



Unincorporated communities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 15, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 137. 
  4. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  8. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  11. ^ "Norcor Home." Northern Oregon Regional Corrections Facility. Retrieved on November 22, 2011.
  12. ^ "Voter registration by county: March 2009", 10 April 2009 (PDF). Elections Division. Retrieved April 20, 2009.
  13. ^ "Gilliam County, Oregon". City-Data.Com. Retrieved April 21, 2009.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°23′N 120°13′W / 45.38°N 120.21°W / 45.38; -120.21