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Home > Local > Counties > Wheeler County

Wheeler County

Rock palisades at the Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument along Highway 218.

Rock palisades at the Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument along Highway 218. (Oregon State Archives Photo)

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County Seat: Courthouse, 701 Adams St., Fossil 97830
Phone: 541-763-2400 (General); 541-763-2541 (Court Administrator)
Fax: 541-763-2026


Population (2016): 1,465
Established: Feb. 17, 1899
Elev. at Fossil: 2,654'
Area: 1,813 sq. mi.
Average Temp.: January 35° July 66°
Assessed Value: $132,050,568
Real Market Value: $636,195,413
Annual Precipitation: 14.66"
Economy: Livestock and tourism


Wheeler County map

Related resources
Historical Records Inventory
Scenic Image
"County QuickFacts" (population and economic data from U.S. Census Bureau)
County Seat Map (from Yahoo! Maps)
County Map (from ODOT)


Incorporated cities
Fossil | Mitchell | Spray


Points of interest
Painted Hills, John Day Fossil Beds, John Day River


History and general information
Wheeler County was formed by the Oregon Legislature in 1899 from parts of Grant, Gilliam and Crook Counties and was named for Henry H. Wheeler, who operated the first mail stage line from The Dalles to Canyon City. The new county consisted of 1,656 square miles with an estimated 46 townships, a population of 1,600 and taxable property worth one million dollars.

Wheeler County is as rugged and uneven as any Oregon county, with the terrain varying widely from sagebrush, juniper and rim rock to stands of pine and fir. Portions of two national forests lie within its boundaries with forest lands covering nearly one-third of the county. The area is probably best known as one of the most outstanding depositories of prehistoric fossils on the North American continent.


County officials
County Court—Judge Lynn Morley 2023; Rob Ordway 2021, Debra Starkey 2019, ; Dist. Atty. Gretchen Ladd 2021; Assess. Donald R. Cossitt 2019; Clerk Alicia Hankins 2021; Justice of the Peace Robin Ordway 2021; Sheriff Chris Humphreys 2021; Surv. Jason Hatfield 2021; Treas. Sandra K. Speer 2019


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