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Union County, Oregon
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Union County, Oregon

Union County is a county located in the U.S. State of Oregon. The county was named for the town of Union, located within its boundaries when it was carved out of Baker County during the Civil War . As of 2000, the population is 24,530.


The initial economic interest in the area was mining, but most of the mines were in the portion Baker County annexed in 1901. Farming (wheat, fruit, vegetables, and grass seeds), cattle, sheep raising, and timber have replaced mining as the primary economic forces in the county. Nearby mountains and streams offer hunting, fishing, skiing, and camping, which attract vacationers. The Forest Service owns 47% of the lands inside the county boundaries.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 5,280 km² (2,039 mi²). 5,275 km² (2,037 mi²) of it is land and 5 km² (2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.10% water.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 24,530 people, 9,740 households, and 6,516 families residing in the county. The population density is 5/km² (12/mi²). There are 10,603 housing units at an average density of 2/km² (5/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 94.29% White, 0.51% Black or African American, 0.85% Native American, 0.85% Asian, 0.62% Pacific Islander, 1.22% from other races, and 1.67% from two or more races. 2.45% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 9,740 households out of which 30.00% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.10% are married couples living together, 8.50% have a female householder with no husband present, and 33.10% are non-families. 26.10% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.80% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.45 and the average family size is 2.94.

In the county, the population is spread out with 24.60% under the age of 18, 12.10% from 18 to 24, 23.50% from 25 to 44, 25.00% from 45 to 64, and 14.70% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 38 years. For every 100 females there are 95.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 92.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county is $33,738, and the median income for a family is $40,520. Males have a median income of $33,028 versus $21,740 for females. The per capita income for the county is $16,907. 13.80% of the population and 8.50% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 13.60% are under the age of 18 and 9.50% are 65 or older.


Population growth in eastern Oregon during the early 1860s prompted the State Legislature to split Umatilla and Baker Counties from Wasco County in 1862. Further settlement in the Grande Ronde Valley led to the creation of Union County from Baker County on October 14, 1864.

The establishment of a county seat resulted in competition, based on geography and on economic and population growth, between La Grande and the city of Union. The county seat alternated between Union and La Grande until it permanently came to rest at La Grande in 1905. Between 1875 and 1913, adjustments were made between Union County's borders and the borders of Baker, Umatilla, and Wallowa Counties.

Cities and towns

State of
Columbia River Gorge and Plateau | Eastern Oregon | Inland Empire | Mt. Hood Corridor | Oregon Coast | Western Oregon | Willamette Valley
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