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.
The Jefferson County Historical Museum, located in the upper floor of the historic Old County Courthouse in downtown Madras (34 SE “D” St.), was established in the 1970s. It is crammed with historically significant objects, artifacts, records, and photographs. Each item tells its own distinctive part of the story of Jefferson County from Indian times to the homestead and railroad-boom era, through the Great Depression to the advent of irrigation, dam construction, light industry, and tourism. Through displays of period clothing and furnishings, household articles and tools, business equipment (including a pioneer optometrist’s complete office), and priceless family photos, you can discover for yourself how people really lived in these parts in earlier times.
Likewise, at the County Fairgrounds you can step into our authentically furnished 1914 homestead farmhouse, a gift of the Farrell family of Gateway; and also go back to school in our one-room country school. Nearby, lovers of old farm machinery will enjoy a fine collection of horse-drawn and early motorized implements, including a very rare locally-built 1900’s water-wagon, and probably one of the only horse-powered “stump-pullers” (for clearing fields of juniper trees) still in existence.