Benton County, Oregon

Making Benton County a Better Place to Live
Printed on Sep 03, 2015 @ 10:08 AM

Benton County – A Rich History

Benton County, Oregon(From the Oregon Blue Book)

Benton County was established by the Provisional Legislature in 1847. It was named in honor of Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, who was instrumental in promoting the development of Oregon Country. Nine other United States counties were named similarly.

Carved from Polk County, Benton County stretched from the Polk County boundary south to the California border and from the Pacific Ocean east to the Willamette River. Umpqua, Lane, Douglas, Jackson, Lincoln, Josephine, Curry and Coos counties were created from portions of the original Benton County.

CorvallisToday Benton County occupies 679 square miles of the central Willamette Valley and is bordered on the east by the Willamette River and Linn County, on the west by the summit of the Coast Range and Lincoln County, on the north by Polk County and on the south by Lane County. The city of Marysville, later renamed Corvallis, became the county seat in 1851.

At the time of its creation, Benton County government consisted of two or more justices of the peace acting as county commissioners; a judicial system including circuit, probate and justice courts; clerks for each court; law enforcement offices of sheriff and coroner; and the tax and finance offices of the assessor, tax collector and treasurer. In 1972 a home rule charter was passed in Benton County and the governing body of the county became a three-member board of commissioners. (See more about county government in the Oregon Blue Book.)

Justice on the County CourthouseBenton County was created out of land originally inhabited by the Klickitat Indians. All Indian claims to land within Benton County were ceded in the Treaty of Dayton in 1855. In 1862 Corvallis became the site of the Oregon State Agricultural College, known today as Oregon State University.

There are many historic aspects to Benton County. For example, Corvallis briefly was the capital of Oregon. Fort Hoskins, located northwest of Philomath in Benton County, was a Civil War era stronghold charged with monitoring activity on the adjacent reservation as well as Confederate sympathizers in the Willamette Valley.

Courthouse TowerThe iconic Benton County Courthouse is the prized feature of downtown Corvallis. As the oldest courthouse in Oregon currently used for its original purpose, the current structure was built in 1889.

It replaced the first county courthouse, which was built in 1854. The Benton County Courthouse was extensively renovated in 1976 to restore and preserve the historic character of the building. Nearby buildings house county offices not located in the courthouse.


For more information about the history of the county, download Benton County, a Brief History and Tour Guide published in 1975 by the Benton County Pioneer Historical Society or A Historical Overview of the Alsea/Lobster Valley Region of Benton County published in 1986. More historical information is available from the Benton County Historical Society website.