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Morrow County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregonmarker, on the south side of the Columbia River. It is included in the 8 county definition of Eastern Oregon. The county is named for one of its first white settlers, Jackson L. Morrow, who was a member of the state legislature when the county was created. Half of the Umatilla Chemical Depotmarker, which includes the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, is located within the county. In 2000, the county's population was 10,996. The seat of the county is Heppnermarker.

Morrow County is part of the PendletonmarkerHermistonmarker Micropolitan Statistical Area.


Morrow County was created on February 15, 1884 from the western portion of Umatilla County and a small portion of eastern Wasco Countymarker. Heppnermarker was designated the temporary county seat at the time the county was created and narrowly defeated Lexingtonmarker in the election held in 1887 to determine the permanent county seat.


The principal industries in the county today include agriculture, food processing, lumber, livestock, and recreation. The Columbia River also provides Morrow County with a number of related jobs. A coal-fired generating plant in Boardmanmarker also employs a significant number of people.

Early cattlemen found an abundance of rye along the creek bottoms of the region and drove their herds into the area to forage on these natural pastures. Ranching was the primary economic force in the county for many years. Increased settlement, the enclosure of the free grazing lands and diminished pastures due to overgrazing, resulted in the decline of ranching during the 19th century, and farming became predominant. The completion of rail lines into the county in 1883 increased access to markets and encouraged wheat production in the area. The advent of technology for center pivot irrigation has been a further stimulus to the local economy.

The Morrow Port District, situated on the Columbia River near the town of Boardman, was established in 1957.

The coal-fired electricity generation plant, the Boardman Turbine Coal Plant (601 megawatts), is located southwest of the town of Boardman, and is owned by Portland General Electric (PGE; 66%-owned and operated), Idaho Power (10%), Pacific Northwest Generating (10%), and General Electric Credit Corp. (16%). There are also two natural gas-fired plants located at the Port of Morrow; Coyote Springs I (255-276 MW), owned and operated by Portland General Electric; and Coyote Springs II (241-280 MW; PGE operator), a fifty-fifty joint venture of Avista Power & Mirant Corp.


Like all counties in eastern Oregon, the majority of registered voters who are part of a political party in Morrow County are members of the Republican Party. In the 2008 presidential election 61.94% of Morrow County voters voted for Republican John McCain, while 34.62% voted for Democrat Barack Obama and 3.44% of voters either voted for a Third Party candidate or wrote in a candidate. These numbers show a slight shift towards the Democratic candidate when compared to the 2004 presidential election, in which 64.8% of Morrow Country voters voted for George W. Bush, while 33.8% voted for John Kerry, and 1.4% of voters either voted for a Third Party candidate or wrote in a candidate.


Morrow County Courthouse in Heppner
to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,047 square miles (5,307 km²) of which 2,031 square miles (5,263 km²) is land and 16 square miles (43 km²) or (0.97%) is water.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


As of the census of 2000, there were 10,996 people, 3,776 households, and 2,718 families residing in the county. The population density was 5 people per square mile (2/km²). There were 4,296 housing units at an average density of 2 per square mile (1/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 76.27% White, 0.14% Black or African American, 1.42% Native American, 0.45% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 19.54% from other races, and 2.14% from two or more races. 24.43% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 13.6% were of German, 12.8% Americanmarker, 8.3% Irish and 8.0% English ancestry according to Census 2000. 77.3% spoke English and 22.3% Spanish as their first language.

There were 3,776 households out of which 38.91% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.60% were married couples living together, 8.87% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.70% were non-families. 18.13% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.90 and the average family size was 3.28.

In the county, the population was spread out with 30.80% under the age of 18, 8.90% from 18 to 24, 27.30% from 25 to 44, 22.40% from 45 to 64, and 10.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 106.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 106.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $37,525, and the median income for a family was $40,731. Males had a median income of $32,328 versus $22,887 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,843. 14.80% of the population and 11.30% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 21.60% of those under the age of 18 and 10.1% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.


Incorporated cities

Unincorporated communities



Major Roads


  1. Retrieved on 4/21/09
  2. Retrieved on 4/21/09
  3. Retrieved on 4/21/09

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