About Washington County
Our roots run deep.
Washington County was one of the first counties established in Oregon in 1843, before Oregon was even declared a state.
Today, we are known for our ethnic diversity, small town charm, and exceptional Pacific Northwest scenery. With over 600,000 residents, Washington County is the second largest county in Oregon and is growing by the day.
Whether you are an Oregon native or relocating to Washington County, we can’t wait to welcome you to our community.
Twality District Established
Washington County was established as “Twality District” in 1843. Named after the Atfalati tribe’s name for the Tualatin River and Valley, it was one of four original Oregon counties that included Clackamas, Marion, and Yamhill. Fur trapper and politician Joseph Meek helped establish Oregon’s provisional government. He held many political positions throughout his life including sheriff, U.S. marshal, militiaman, legislator, court officer, and state coroner.
In 1849, Twality’s name was changed to Washington County in honor of George Washington and as a nod to Joseph Meek’s hometown in Virginia. Hillsboro (née “Columbia”) was chosen as the county seat in 1850.
Oregon Becomes a State
Oregon became the 33rd state in the U.S. 16 years after Washington County was established. Being a state called for improved transportation of goods between Portland and Washington County. To address this, Peter Scholl and John Taylor began shuttling ferries across the Tualatin River. Meanwhile, Jesse Boone (great-grandson of Daniel Boone) operated a cable ferry across the Willamette River. Scholls Ferry, Taylors Ferry, and Boones Ferry roads were later named after these men and today are popular thoroughfares of Washington County.
O & C Railroad Opens
Transport of agriculture and lumber became possible with the implementation of the O & C Railroad in 1871. By 1905, passenger trains began operating and by 1910, Washington County’s agriculture industry was thriving.
WashCo Courthouse is Built
Washington County’s first brick courthouse was constructed in Hillsboro in 1873. In 1886, five sequoia trees were planted in the square, where they still stand today. In 1927, the courthouse was demolished and construction began on a new structure. It was completed in 1930 and is the Washington County Courthouse of today.
Hillsboro Airport Established
Dr. Elmer H. Smith established the Hillsboro Airport in 1928. It originally consisted of two runways. Today, the airport is operated by the Port of Portland and is the second busiest airport in Oregon after Portland International Airport (PDX).
Birth of Silicon Forest
1951 marked the start of several tech companies planting their roots in Washington County. Tektronix was established in Beaverton in 1951 and currently operates offices in 21 countries around the world. In 1974, Intel opened their headquarters in Hillsboro. Today, it’s estimated that Intel employs 20,000 people in Oregon and is responsible for $27 billion of Oregon’s economy annually. The tech presence in Washington County inspired the name “Silicon Forest” after our Bay Area neighbors in Silicon Valley.
Home Rule Charter Established
In 1962, Washington County citizens voted and approved a Home Rule Charter. Home Rule means the voters may establish the basic form and structure of county government rather than use the structure provided by state statutes. This permitted more freedom for the community to make government-related decisions.
Nike opened their Beaverton campus in 1990; today it sits on an expansive 286 acres. Today, Nike is one of the world’s most valued and identifiable brands in the world, employing over 70,000 people globally. Washington County’s population spiked in the 1990s with a growth rate of almost 43%.
WashCo of Today
With 600,000 residents (and counting), Washington County has been named one of the fastest growing counties in Oregon because of the thriving economy, our diverse population, and an endless list of things to do and see in and around our region. Our future is an open road of possibilities. We can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.
The heart of the Pacific Northwest.
Located in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, Washington County includes all the best Oregon has to offer. From our friendly, local businesses to our surplus of outdoor adventures, we’re proud to call Washington County home.
LIVE IT UP LOCALLY
Washington County embodies every quintessential aspect of a Pacific Northwest town. Take in a show at the local theater, bury your nose in the bubbling, hoppy flavor of craft beer, or taste the authenticity of family-owned restaurants.
Where’s your next adventure? Is it hiking or biking the 14-mile loop at Hagg Lake? How about exploring the coast in Seaside, just 45 minutes from Washington County? If the mountain air is what you need, Mt. Hood’s Timberline Lodge is less than two hours away. Hiking trails, lake fishing, skiing, and bike riding abound in our nature lover’s playground.
TRAVERSE THE SILICON FOREST
Some of the most valued companies in the world reside in Washington County, including Nike, Intel, Salesforce, and Tektronix. We’re even called the “Silicon Forest.” The presence of these companies helps our economy thrive and provides our region with global recognition.
SIP & SAVOR IN WINE COUNTRY
With over 500 wineries dotted along the Willamette Valley, your cup will always runneth over with award-winning wine in nearby Oregon Wine Country.
GET THE PORTLAND EXPERIENCE
If an urban escape is more your style, the excitement and eccentricity of downtown Portland is only minutes away from Washington County. From food trucks to James Beard award-winning restaurants, the Portland food scene is reason enough for a day in the City of Roses.
With so many possibilities, what will you discover in Washington County?