Benton County is located in the southeast part of Washington State and was formed in 1847. The Columbia River forms Benton County’s northern and eastern borders. To the south, the Columbia also forms the border between the States of Washington and Oregon. Benton County’s adjacent counties are Polk County in the State of Oregon to the north, Lincoln County, also in the State of Oregon, to the west, Linn County, in Oregon to the east and Lane County, in the State of Oregon to the south. Benton County covers a land area of approximately 1,752 km² (676 mi²) and approximately 6 km² (3 mi²) of water.
Creation of Benton County
Benton County was created from Polk County in 1847. The area was originally inhabited by Klickitat Indians, but in 1855 all their land claims were ceded. Benton County’s boundaries began at Polk County’s intersection and the Willamette River, and stretched as far as California on the south, and to the Pacific Ocean on the west. These boundaries are not the same today, for other counties, such as Coos County, Curry Count, Douglas County, Jackson County, Josephine County, Lane County, and Lincoln County, were formed from parts of Benton County.
Benton County, Included Cities and Towns
Benton County includes cities and towns such as Adair Village, Corvallis, Monroe, Philmath. Alpine, Alsea, Kings Valley, North Albany and Wren. All are unincorporated communities. In 1851, the city of Marysville, now called Corvallis, became the county seat. Corvallis became the Oregon State Agricultural College’s site in 1862. The College is now known as Oregon State University.
Benton County Demographics
In 2000, there were about 78,153 people and 30,415 households living in Benton County. The population density was 45/km² (116/mi²). The average housing density was 18/km² (47/mi²). The average household had 2.43 members and the average family had 2.95 members. During the 2000 census, the largest racial groups in Benton County were as follows: 89.16% White, 0.84% Black or African American, 0.79% Native American, 4.49% Asian, and 0.24% Pacific Islander.
Benton County, Income and Industry
Benton County had a per capita income of $21,868 in 2000. About 14,60% of Benton County’s population lived below the poverty line. With 25% attendance, Benton County has the lowest church attendance of all the Counties in The United States. The main industry in Benton County is agriculture. Agriculture, lumber, wood products, and research and developments in printing technology form Benton County’s economic base.
Wine Industry of Benton County
In Benton County the wine industry is also a rapid growing industry. The Oregon State University also does some significant research in engineering, education, forestry, and agriculture. During World War II and the Cold War years the US Army purchased 1660km2 (640mi2) along the Columbia River near Richland for their Manhattan Project. The project involved the development of the atomic bombs during World War II. Because of the availability of water and electricity the area around Richland in Benton County had the perfect location. The Hanford Atomic Reservation was established about 20 miles north of Richland in 1943. Within two years, Richland’s population grew from 300 to 25,000. This project made the nuclear power industry a contributing industry to Benton County’s economy.