Counties have long history of changing borders

I know there's been talk that if Curry and Josephine counties can't pay their bills, they could become part of Jackson County. Not sure that's such a good idea, but isn't it true that the area that's now Jackson County was once part of another county back in the 1800s?

— Lewis H., Medford

True, indeed, Lewis. All of Southern Oregon was once part of (brace yourselves, Beavers) Lane County.

In fact, Lane County — home of the Ducks — took in essentially everything south of Linn and Benton counties, from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains.

According to Jackson County's website, that changed on Jan. 12, 1852, when the Territorial Legislature created Jackson County out of the southwestern portion of Lane County and the area south of Douglas and Umpqua counties. It was named for President Andrew Jackson and became Oregon's 12th county.

Jackson County's borders originally ran south to California, west to the Pacific Ocean, east to Lane County (which still took in southeast Oregon), and north to Umpqua and Douglas counties.

While Jackson County was pulled from a larger county, it in turn spawned portions of several other counties: Coos County was created in 1853 from portions of Jackson, Douglas and Umpqua counties. (Umpqua County no longer exists; it was parceled out to Douglas and Coos counties.)

Curry County was created from the southern part of Coos County and Josephine County was created in 1856 from the western half of Jackson County. Jackson County's boundaries have remained unchanged since 1885.

So, if Josephine and/or Curry counties were incorporated into the current Jackson County, they would merely be returning to where they started. But don't count on that happening anytime soon, Lewis. No one in any of the three counties seems to be pressing for that outcome.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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