History Cont...

Elected county officials include three commissioners and a clerk, assessor, sheriff, treasurer, and surveyor. In 1969 the county court ceased to have any judicial functions and became a purely administrative body. The position of county judge was abolished in 2010 and replaced with a board chair.

The 2009 Wasco County population of 24,230 was an increase of 1.8% over 2000.

The falls on the Columbia River near The Dalles served as a gathering place and major trading center for many Indians, including the Wasco, Paiute, and Warm Springs. The falls had been named Le Grand Dalles de la Columbia (The Great Falls of the Columbia) by French Canadian fur traders. The Indians of the region were moved to the Warm Springs Reservation in 1855.

The Dalles had served initially as a way station on the emigrant road to the Willamette Valley. The construction of a pioneer road over the Cascades in 1845 and the Donation Land Act of 1850 brought families to the area to settle. Wasco County became a major transportation hub for both river traffic and inland traffic. River traffic on the Columbia River was profoundly affected in 1935 by the building of Bonneville Dam in Multnomah County and by The Dalles Dam in 1957 in Wasco County. The county's ecoßnomy is based upon agriculture (orchards, wheat farming, livestock ranching), lumber, manufacturing, electric power, transportation, and tourism.


Wasco County residents were seeing red during the 1980s. In one of the more bizarre chapters of Oregon history, guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his red garbed followers built the Rajneeshpuram commune on 64,000 acres of remote land near the John Day River in 1981. Friction soon developed between the Rajneeshees and long time county residents and officials. The Bhagwan's followers developed a penchant for buying him Rolls Royce cars (eventually 93 of them) and for flaunting land use ordinances and election laws.

The commune took control of the nearby community of Antelope, which they renamed Rajneesh, and attempted to manipulate the county government by registering to vote homeless people brought in from outside the county and state. The ensuing investigation in 1985 led to the arrest of the Bhagwan's personal secretary on charges of theft and attempted murder. The Bhagwan was indicted on federal immigration charges and deported to India.

(Sources: Oregon State Archives records | Oregon Sheriffs: Wasco County)

Where to look

Dates of Secession of
Other Eastern Oregon Counties
1853 Map of the Oregon Territory About Map
County Secession Date
Baker 1862
Umatilla 1862
Grant 1864
Lake 1874
Crook 1882
Morrow 1884
Gilliam 1885
Sherman 1889
Hood River 1908
OR-WA territories Oregon Territory is shown in blue.
Everything east of the Cascades was
part of the original Wasco County.

Info from Widipedia History of Wasco
County History.

Be sure to click on the link, there is
lots more info available there.

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