Tillamook County is largely defined by its geography and topography. In the past, its forests, rich grass and fisheries created a thriving resource-based economy. Its geographic isolation created a close-knit community whose hallmark was self-reliance.
Today, geography continues to shape Tillamook County and its future. Its pristine shoreline and lush valleys attract thousands of visitors annually. The county encompasses seven incorporated cities and three school districts. There are 378 miles of roads under county jurisdiction. Mild summers and wet winters characterize the climate. Annual rainfall averages more than 90 inches with average temperatures ranging from 42 degrees in January to 58 degrees in July.
Tillamook County was established on Dec. 15, 1853, on lands that previously were part of Clatsop, Yamhill and Polk counties. It was the twelfth county in Oregon to be organized. Its name comes from the Killamook Indians, who were native to the area, and means “Land of many waters.” In 1866, the town of Lincoln was renamed Tillamook in order to stay consistent with the post office’s name of Tillamook. An election in 1873 chose Tillamook as the county seat.
Tillamook County’s 1,125 square miles include nine rivers, four bays and 75 miles of coastline. There are miles of sandy beaches, beautiful vistas and a variety of recreational opportunities, including fishing, crabbing, clamming, beachcombing, hiking and ocean charter trips. The county’s thousands of acres of forested hills offer opportunities for hunting, camping and off-road vehicle enthusiasts. Its wetlands are home to a large variety of animals, fish and birds.
More than 90 percent of the land in the county is controlled by the State of Oregon, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, Tillamook County and private timber companies.
Fishing was once a major industry in the county, but today the local economy is dominated by agriculture, timber harvesting and tourism.
The Tillamook forest is a key element of the county’s economy. The 500,000-acre forest was replanted after disastrous fires in the 1930s and 1940s wiped it out. Those trees have now begun to come of age, helping to drive the local timber harvesting and processing economy and support local education through timber revenue.
As unique as its geography are the people of Tillamook County. Reflecting their agricultural roots, native Tillamookers are reserved and practical by nature, but exhibit immense generosity and selflessness in times of crisis or need. The community cherishes its pioneer heritage and descendants of pioneer families continue to be leaders in the community.