Oregon Historical County Records Guide
Sherman County History
Sherman County Courthouse
Sherman County's population has remained remarkably steady at a little under 2,000 residents for over 100 years. While these folks, largely wheat farmers and cattle ranchers, would take exception with the notion, most people are just interested in getting through Sherman County.
Native Americans traveled through the area to reach the famed trading center at Celilo Falls to the west. Lewis and Clark passed through anticipating the Pacific Ocean ahead. Travelers on the Oregon Trail went through to The Dalles or Barlow Pass. Stage, mail, and freight routes began to cross in the 1860s, while the railroad steamed through the area in 1881. Now, most people pass through Sherman County on Interstate 84 or Highway 97 in about an hour or less. They don't notice the golden glow of the wheat fields as the sun sets behind Mt. Hood. But the residents do. (Source: Sherman County Historical Society and Museum)
Sherman County was created in 1889 out of the northeast corner of Wasco County. It was named for General William Techumseh Sherman of Civil War fame. Sherman County is located in north central Oregon and is bounded by the Columbia River on the north, the John Day River and Gilliam County on the east, and the Deschutes River, Buck Hollow, and Wasco County on the west and south. The only change made to the county's borders occurred in 1891 when the Legislative Assembly moved the county line eighteen miles farther south.
Sherman County contains 831 square miles. The town of Wasco was designated the county seat by the Legislative Assembly although the selection was contested between Wasco and Moro. Moro benefited from the addition to the southern part of the county of a portion of Wasco County and was the eventual winner of a series of elections to select a county seat.
The county contracted in 1892 to construct a building and vault on the main street of Moro for use as an interim courthouse. A permanent courthouse was built in 1899 on a hill overlooking the town and is still in use today.
A county court has governed Sherman County since its creation. Administrative functions for Sherman County continue to be the responsibility of the county court consisting of the county judge and two commissioners. Other elected officials are the assessor, county clerk, district attorney, sheriff, and treasurer.
The population of the county has remained fairly constant, in 1890 there were 1,792 residents and in 2011 there were 1765 residents, a drop from 1,934 residents in 2000.
Sherman County is an agricultural county. It has a larger percentage of its 831 square miles under cultivation than any county in Oregon. Its farms are devoted to growing wheat and barley. Cattle raising also contributes to the county's economy as does recreation on the rivers bordering the county. In recent years, electricity generating wind turbines have sprouted in large wind farms in several areas such as east of Wasco. The income, both to landowners and to the county, has been a welcome economic boost.