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Columbia County, Oregon

Columbia County, Oregon
The Columbia County Courthouse in St. Helens
Map of Oregon highlighting Columbia County
Location in the state of Oregon
Map of the United States highlighting Oregon
Oregon's location in the U.S.
Founded January 16, 1854
Seat St. Helens
Largest city St. Helens
 • Total 688 sq mi (1,782 km2)
 • Land 657 sq mi (1,702 km2)
 • Water 31 sq mi (80 km2), 4.5%
Population (est.)
 • (2014) 49,459
 • Density 75/sq mi (29/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Pacific: UTC-8/-7
Website .us.or.columbia.cowww

Columbia County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 census, the population was 49,351.[1] The county seat is St. Helens.[2] It was named for the Columbia River, which forms its eastern and northern borders.

Columbia County is included in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Portland metropolitan area.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Adjacent counties 2.1
    • National protected area 2.2
  • Demographics 3
  • Government 4
  • Politics 5
  • Economy 6
  • Transportation 7
  • Communities 8
    • Cities 8.1
    • Census-designated places 8.2
    • Unincorporated communities 8.3
  • See also 9
  • References 10


The Chinook and Clatskanie Native Americans inhabited this region for centuries prior to the arrival of Robert Gray, captain of the ship Columbia Rediviva, in 1792. The Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled and camped along the Columbia River shore in the area later known as Columbia County in late 1805 and on their return journey in early 1806.

Columbia County was created in 1854 from the northern half of Washington County. Milton served as the county seat until 1857 when it was moved to St. Helens.

Columbia County has been afflicted by numerous flooding disasters, the most recent in December 2007. Heavy rains caused the Nehalem River to escape its banks and flood the city of Vernonia and rural areas nearby. Columbia County received a presidential disaster declaration for this event.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 688 square miles (1,780 km2), of which 657 square miles (1,700 km2) is land and 31 square miles (80 km2) (4.5%) is water.[3] It is the third-smallest county in Oregon by land area and fourth-smallest by total area.

Adjacent counties

National protected area


As of the census[9] of 2000, there were 43,560 people, 16,375 households, and 12,035 families residing in the county. The population density was 66 people per square mile (26/km²). There were 17,572 housing units at an average density of 27 per square mile (10/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 94.42% White, 0.24% Black or African American, 1.33% Native American, 0.59% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 0.79% from other races, and 2.53% from two or more races. 2.51% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 21.2% were of German, 10.8% English, 9.4% American, 9.3% Irish and 5.4% Norwegian ancestry.

There were 16,375 households out of which 34.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.50% were married couples living together, 8.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.50% were non-families. 21.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the county, the population was spread out with 27.30% under the age of 18, 7.00% from 18 to 24, 28.10% from 25 to 44, 26.00% from 45 to 64, and 11.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 100.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $45,797, and the median income for a family was $51,381. Males had a median income of $42,227 versus $27,216 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,078. About 6.70% of families and 9.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.60% of those under age 18 and 7.00% of those age 65 or over.


The county is governed by an elected board of three commissioners. Each commissioner is elected to a term of four years. Other elected officials include the sheriff, county clerk, district attorney, treasurer, surveyor, assessor and justice of the peace.


In Presidential elections the county is among the most consistently Democratic in the state. The Democratic Presidential candidate has won the county in every election following 1928.[10] That stated, the margin has been as little as three percent.[11]

It is part of Oregon's 1st congressional district, which is represented by Suzanne Bonamici and has a Cook Partisan Voting Index score of D+8.


The primary industries are wood products and paper manufacturing, trade, construction and horticulture.[12][13] The extensive stands of old growth timber, which had attracted many of the early settlers to the area, were completely logged over by the 1950s.[14] Second-growth timber provides the raw material for local lumber and paper mills. About half the county's workforce commutes out of the county to work, most to the nearby Portland, Oregon metro area.[15] Columbia County's average nonfarm employment was 10,740 in 2007.[16] The five largest private employers in Columbia County are Fred Meyer, Armstrong World Industries, Wal-Mart, Boise Paper, USIA,[17] and USG.[18]


The CC Rider transit service links the county to Portland and points in Washington County, including connecting with TriMet buses and the MAX light rail system in eastern Hillsboro.

Limited public transit service within Columbia County, and connecting the county with certain points in adjacent counties, is provided by the Columbia County Rider (or CC Rider), a service operated by the county's Transit Division.[19] The service carried 91,500 passengers in 2010.[20]


Columbia County Sheriff's Office


Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 14, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  5. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  7. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  9. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  10. ^ 1928 Presidential election Map by counties
  11. ^ The New York Times electoral map (Zoom in on Oregon)
  12. ^ Oregon Labor Market Information System
  13. ^ Bureau of Economic Analysis
  14. ^ Oregon Historical County Records Guide: Columbia County History - Oregon State Archives. (2012)
  15. ^ U.S. Census Bureau
  16. ^ Columbia County and Oregon QuickFacts - United States Census Bureau. (2012)
  17. ^ UnderSea Industrial Apparel
  18. ^ Columbia County Economic Team
  19. ^ "Welcome/Home page". Columbia County Rider. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  20. ^ Swan, Darryl (April 6, 2011). "Rail operation would create jobs, threaten CC Rider bus service". South County Spotlight ( 

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