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La Grande ( ) is a city in Union Countymarker, Oregonmarker, United Statesmarker. Originally named "Brownsville," it was forced to change its name due to that name already being used for a city in Linn County. Its current name comes from an early French settler, Charles Dause, who often used the phrase "La Grande" to describe the area's beauty. The population was 12,327 at the 2000 census. The 2006 estimate is 12,540 residents. It is the county seat of Union Countymarker. La Grande lies east of the Blue Mountainsmarker and southeast of Pendletonmarker.


Early settlement

The Grande Ronde Valleymarker had long been a waypoint along the Oregon Trail. The first permanent settler in the La Grande area was Benjamin Brown in 1861. Not long after, the Leasey family and about twenty others settled there. The settlement was originally named after Ben Brown as Brown's Fort, and then Browns Town or Brownsville. There was already a Brownsvillemarker in Linn County, so when the post office was established, a more distinctive name was needed. It was decided to use "La Grande", a phrase used by a Frenchman, Charles Dause, to describe the area's scenic splendor. Before the post office was established, William Carter charged 50 cents a letter to carry the mail on horseback from the nearest post office, in Walla Walla, Washingtonmarker. La Grande was incorporated as a city in 1865.


La Grande grew rapidly during the late 1860s and early 1870s, partially because of the many gold mines in the region and the valley's agricultural capabilities. The early business establishments centered on C Avenue between present day Fourth Street and the hillside on the west end.

In 1884, the railroad came to the flat slightly east of "Old Town". This helped the town to grow, and also gave rise to "New Town", centered on Adams Avenue and built parallel to the railroad tracks.

La Grande's Eastern Oregon Universitymarker, formerly known as Eastern Oregon State College, began in 1929 as Eastern Oregon Normal School, a teachers college.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.3 square miles (11.3 km²), all of it land.

Mount Emilymarker is a recognizable Grande Ronde Valleymarker landmark that towers over the city of La Grande to the north. It often features prominently on logos of local organizations.


As of the census of 2000, there were 12,327 people, 5,124 households, and 2,982 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,833.5 people per square mile (1,094.1/km²). There were 5,483 housing units at an average density of 1,260.3/sq mi (486.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.92% White, 0.68% African American, 0.78% Native American, 1.26% Asian, 0.90% Pacific Islander, 1.40% from other races, and 2.07% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.77% of the population.

There were 5,124 households out of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.1% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.8% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 16.5% from 18 to 24, 23.9% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 90.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,576, and the median income for a family was $40,508. Males had a median income of $32,746 versus $21,930 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,550. About 8.3% of families and 15.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.0% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.



LGDWS - La Grande Weather Service


The Observer is the local daily newspaper.





La Grande is a crew change point on the Huntington and La Grande subdivisions of the Union Pacific Railroad, originally constructed through the area in 1884 by the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company. Between 1977 and 1997, the city was a regular stop along the former route of Amtrak's Pioneer between Chicagomarker, Salt Lake Citymarker, Portlandmarker and Seattlemarker. La Grande is also the junction of the Idaho Northern and Pacific Railroad's 20-mile short line to Elginmarker.



  1. PSU:Population Research Center

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