Jefferson County Historical Society



Students at haystack School

Chief Tommy Thompson

“We are going to have a school here this winter. Young is going to move his store here in a few days. Perry Read is going to build a hotel here in the spring. I suppose by this time next year, we will have quite a town here.”
--John Isham in a letter to his wife Palmain, dated Sept. 14, 1902 from Palmain (Madras).

Students at haystack School





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 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.


News and Events


Annual Dinner

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Madras Senior Center

Click here for more info!

Society Establishes New Endowment with Oregon Community Foundation
Click here for more info!

Listen to story excerpts
Audio excerpts from "The Voices of Experience," a series of interviews by the Jefferson County Historical Society and edited by Harold Moore. The CD is available for purchase at the Museum.
Click here for the stories!


Watch a Slideshow!
We have gathered together the images from this site, and
created a handy slideshow!
Click here for the slideshow!