County Seat: Courthouse, 500 NW 6th St., Grants Pass 97526; Mailing Address: PO Box 69, Grants Pass 97526
Phone: 541-474-5243 (General); 541-476-2309 (Court Administrator)
Population (2011): 82,820
Established: Jan. 22, 1856
Elev. at Grants Pass: 948'
Area: 1,641 sq. mi.
Average Temp.: January 39.9° July 71.6°
Assessed Value: $6,267,269,432
Real Market Value: $7,275,733,739
Annual Precipitation: 32.31"
Economy: Tourism, recreation, forest products, electronics and software
Points of interest
Oregon Caves National Monument, Wolf Creek Tavern, Sunny Valley Covered Bridge and Interpretive Center, Hellgate Canyon-Rogue River, Grants Pass Historic District, Growers Market, Kalmiopsis Wilderness, Rogue Community College, Barnstormers Theater, Rogue Music Theater
History and general information
Josephine County, named for Virginia “Josephine” Rollins, the first white woman to make this county her home, was established in 1856 out of the western portion of Jackson County. The county seat was originally located in Sailor Diggings (later, Waldo), but in July of 1857 was relocated to Kerbyville, situated on the main route between the port of Crescent City, California, and the gold fields.
The discovery of rich placers at Sailor Diggings in 1852 and the resulting gold rush brought the first settlers to this region. Several U.S. Army forts were maintained in the county and many engagements during the Rogue River Indian War (1855–1858) took place within its boundaries. In 1886, the county seat was finally relocated to Grants Pass, a new town on the railroad that was completed through Oregon that same year. Grants Pass is now the departure point for most Rogue River scenic waterway guided fishing and boat trips. The Illinois River, one of the Rogue’s tributaries, has also been designated a scenic waterway.
Commissioners—Simon Hare 2015; Keith Heck 2017, Cherryl Walker 2017, Dist. Atty. Stephen D. Campbell 2017; Assess. Connie Roach 2017; Clerk Art Harvey 2017; Sheriff Gil Gilbertson 2015; Surv. Peter D. Allen 2017; Treas. Eve Arce 2017