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Klamath Falls ( ) is a city in Klamath Countymarker, Oregonmarker, United Statesmarker. Originally called Linkville when George Nurse founded the town in 1867, after the Link Rivermarker on whose falls this city sits; the name was changed to Klamath Falls in 1892. The population was 19,462 at the 2000 census, with an estimated population of 21,305 in 2008. It is the county seat of Klamath Countymarker.


The Klamath Indians and Modoc Indians were the first inhabitants of the area. The Klamath name for this place was Yulalona or Iwauna, which referred to the phenomenon of the Link River flowing upstream when the south wind blew hard. Their name for the falls was Tiwishkeni, or "where the falling waters rush".

The Modoc Tribe's homeland is about south of Klamath Falls, but when they were pushed onto a reservation with their adversaries the Klamath, a rebellion ensued and they hid out in nearby lava bedsmarker. This led to the Modoc War of 1872–1873, which was a hugely expensive campaign for the US Cavalry, costing an estimated $500,000 – the equivalent of over 8 million in year-2000 dollars. Seventeen Indians and 83 whites were killed.[19683]

The Applegate Trail, which passes through the lower Klamath area, was blazed in 1846 from west to east in an attempt to provide a safer route for emigrants on the Oregon Trail.

The Klamath Reclamation Projectmarker began in 1906 to drain marshland and move water to allow for agriculture. With the building of the main "A" Canal, water was first made available May 22, 1907. Veterans of World War I and World War II were given homesteading opportunities on the reclaimed land.[19684]

During World War II, a Japanese-American internment camp, the Tule Lake War Relocation Centermarker, was located in nearby Newell, Californiamarker, and a satellite of the Camp White, Oregonmarker, POW camp was located just on the Oregon-California border near the town of Tulelake, Californiamarker. In May 1945, about east of Klamath Falls, (near Bly, Oregonmarker) a Japanese balloon bomb killed a woman and five children on a church outing. This is said to be the only Japanese-inflicted casualty on the US mainland during the war.

Timber harvesting through the use of railroad was extensive in Klamath County for the first few decades of the 20th century.[19685] With the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railway in 1909, Klamath Falls grew quickly from a few hundred to several thousand. Dozens of lumber mills cut fir and pine lumber, and the industry flourished until the late 1980s when the Northern Spotted Owl and other endangered species were driving forces in changing western forest policy.

On September 20, 1993, an earthquake struck near Klamath Falls.Many downtown buildings, including the county courthouse were damaged or destroyed. There were two deaths that have been attributed to the earthquake.

Water rights controversy

The city made national headlines in 2001 when a court decision was made to shut off Klamath Project irrigation water on April 6 because of Endangered Species Act requirements. The Lost River sucker and shortnose sucker were listed on the Federal Endangered Species List in 1988, and when drought struck in 2001, a panel of scientists stated that further diversion of water for agriculture would be detrimental to these species, which reside in the Upper Klamath Lakemarker, as well as to the protected Coho salmon which spawn in the Klamath River. Many protests by farmers and citizens culminated in a "Bucket Brigade" [19686] on Main Street May 7, 2001 in Klamath Fallsmarker. The event was attended by 18,000 farmers, ranchers, citizens, and politicians. Such universal criticism resulted in a new plan implemented in early 2002 to resume irrigation to farmers.

Low river flows in the Klamath and Trinity Rivers and high temperatures may have led to a mass die-off of 33,000 salmon in 2002. Dwindling salmon numbers have practically shut down the fishing industry in the region and caused over $60 million in disaster aid being given to fishermen to offset losses. Ninety percent of Trinity River water is diverted for California Agriculture.

According to a National Academy of Sciencesmarker report of October 22, 2003, limiting irrigation water did little if anything to help endangered fish and may have hurt the populations. A contrary report has criticized the National Academy of Sciencesmarker report. The Chiloquin Dam has been removed to help improve sucker spawning habitat.


Klamath Falls is located at (42.223441, -121.777578), at an elevation of .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of . of it is land and of it (4.54%) is water.

Klamath Falls has a high desertmarker landscape. The older part of the city sits on natural geothermal springs. These have been used for the heating of homes and streets, primarily in the downtown area.

Upper Klamath Lake is the largest natural body of fresh water west of the Great Lakes.


As of the census of 2000, there were 19,462 people, 7,916 households, and 4,670 families residing in the city. The population density was . There were 8,722 housing units at an average density of .

The racial makeup of the city was:

9.32% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 7,916 households out of which:
  • 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them
  • 42.2% were married couples living together
  • 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present
  • 41.0% were non-families
  • 32.4% of all households were made up of individuals
  • 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older

The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.99.

The age distribution was:
  • 25.5% under the age of 18
  • 13.1% from 18 to 24
  • 27.2% from 25 to 44
  • 21.5% from 45 to 64
  • 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older

The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 101.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,498, and the median income for a family was $37,021. Males had a median income of $31,567 versus $22,313 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,710. About 21.9% of the population and 16.2% of families were below the poverty line, including 26.8% of those under age 18 and 9.5% of those 65 or over.


The Klamath County Courthouse.
In the state legislature, Klamath Falls is located in the 28th Senate district, represented by Republican Doug Whitsett, and in the 56th House district, represented by Republican Bill Garrard. Federally, Klamath Falls is located in Oregon's 2nd congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +11 and is represented by Republican Greg Walden. Todd Kellstrom has been the mayor of Klamath Falls for 16 years and was just reelected for his fifth consecutive term November 2008.


Sky Lakes Medical Center is the largest employer in the area , followed by the Klamath Falls City School District and JELD-WEN , a manufacturer of doors and windows.

Klamath Falls is home to the 173rd Fighter Wing of the Oregon Air National Guard, stationed at Kingsley Fieldmarker airbase.

Company B, 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry of the Oregon Army National Guard makes its home at Kingley Field.

Other major employers are Collins Products and Columbia Forest Products.


Colleges and universities

Public schools


Klamath Falls is home to many outdoor winter and summer activities. The nearby Running Y Ranch Resort, features a golf course designed by Arnold Palmer , an ice skating arena Bill Collier Community Ice Arena, trailriding, and overlooks Upper Klamath Lakemarker, the largest natural lake in the Pacific Northwest There is also a canoe trail through the wildlife refuge at Rocky Point.

Klamath Falls is located on the Pacific Flyway, and large numbers of waterfowl and raptors are seen at all times of the year. The largest concentration of Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states winter in Bear Valley , just west of Klamath Falls, near Kenomarker, and the American White Pelican shows in great numbers in summer.

Crater Lake National Parkmarker is north of Klamath Falls and the rim drive circling the lake is a favorite of cyclists. Winter cross country skiing and snow shoeing in the park is also very popular. The more than mile high Crater Lake Marathon [19687] is an annual event.

Lava Beds National Monumentmarker is about to the south east of Klamath Falls near the town of Tulelake, Californiamarker. The Lava Beds provides an excellent opportunity to explore an area that has perhaps the highest concentration of lave tubes. The monument also interprets the Modoc Indian War of 1873 and is the site of the major battles of the war.

Mountain Lakes Wilderness Areamarker, one of the first designated wilderness areas in the United States, lies just to the west of Klamath Falls, providing some excellent opportunities for backpacking and fishing in pristine mountain lakes.

Rail Transportation

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, serves Klamath Falls, operating its Coast Starlight daily in both directions between Seattle, Washingtonmarker and Los Angeles, Californiamarker.

Notable residents

Sister city

Klamath Falls has one sister city [19689], as designated by Sister Cities International:

See also


External links

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