The history of Jefferson County is a rich and colorful tapestry of stories that residents and visitors have been telling each other since Native people first entered this country, maybe 10,000 years ago. Why do people tell and perpetuate stories, here, or anywhere?

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The Society is actively planning for a new, large, more accessible and more flexible museum - one in which the rich history of this area can be properly exhibited and celebrated. Your support as an active member of the society is crucial in realizing this long cherished dream.

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Since it's founding in the 1970's, the Jefferson County Historical Society has dedicated itself to recording, preserving, and promoting recognition of the history of Jefferson County. The Society present several events throughout the year in fulfilment of this mission.

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The Jefferson County Historical Society and Museum

The Jefferson County Historical Society offers you the opportunity to delve into the history, the people and the culture of Jefferson County and Central Oregon. From our county seat in Madras to Culver, Ashwood, Gateway, Metolius, Camp

Ditch digging near Madras, 1966

Ditch digging near Madras, 1966

Sherman, Warm Springs, The Big Muddy Ranch, The Crooked River, Lake Billy Chinook and beyond, the history of Jefferson County, Oregon is full of stories, adventures and characters.

Through this website you have access to information about our current Museum in downtown Madras and our ambitious plans to create the Central Oregon Heritage Center; up-to-date listings of Historical Society events and programs; and verbal and photographic samplings of the stories that make up our rich historical legacy.

Our view of that legacy is that it is inclusive—to be shared by everybody in the ethnically and culturally diverse population of Jefferson County, including the Anglo, Native American, and Hispanic communities, and visitors as well; and ongoing—embodying not only Native American pre-history and the early years of ranching, homesteading, and railroad building, but also the coming of irrigation after World War Two, the buildings of dams, the settling here of Hispanic people, and the emergence of Jefferson County as a center for recreation and tourism.

The Jefferson County Historical Society is also dedicated to the idea that the human history of a region can’t be adequately understood without an understanding of its natural history. As Central Oregonians, we are proud of our magnificent mountains and hills, canyons, and rivers, our bracing climate, our native plants and wildlife—and part of our mission is to promote an informed appreciation of the impact of these natural elements on the history of human life in this region.