Boasting the most ethnically diverse population in Central Oregon, Jefferson County is home to Native Americans from the Warm Springs Reservation, Spanish speakers - primarily from Mexico - and whites.
The mix of people gives the region a unique flavor, whether it be in the area’s many Mexican restaurants or in Madras’ Collage of Culture, a late May festival that celebrates the county’s communities.
Jefferson County topography mirros the diversity of its people. It’s got it all: mountains, rivers, forests, open plains, lakes and rolling farmland. Mount Jefferson, the county’s namesake, sits at the county’s western edge.
The region’s traditional agricultural base is still important, but has become less dominant over the last several years. The manufacturing and fabrication and secondary wood products industries have nearly surpassed agriculture as the county’s primary source of employment
The Warm Springs Reservation sits at the northwest corner of Jefferson County, but enjoys status as a sovereign nation. Three tribes comprise the reservation’s population: the Warm Springs, the Wasco and the Paiute. The reservation features the $7.6 million Museum at Warm Springs, Kah-Nee-Ta Vacation Resort and Indian Head Gaming Center.
One of the county’s most popular summertime spots is Lake Billy Chinook, just outside Culver. Created in 1963 by Pacific General Electric with the construction of Round Butte Dam on the Deschutes River, the lake has 72 miles of shoreline.
Madras sits in a circular valley, and actually was known as The Basin for some time after its incorporation, with an elevation of 2,242 feet. There is some debate over exactly where Madras got its name. Some say the United States Postal Service named it to avoid confusion with other towns. The most accepted story, however, is that the city was named after a bolt of cloth in a store. Madras is a well-known cotton fabric named for the city in India.
Central Oregon Visitors Association
661 SW Powerhouse Drive, Suite 1301, Bend, OR 97702
Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce
274 SW Fourth St, Madras