History of County and Siuslaw Name

        Local natives called the major river and its large watershed the "Siuslaw River"; pronounced Si-u-slaw.   The tribe making its home the Siuslaw River became known as the Siuslaw people speaking Siuslawan.   They lived mainly around the food rich estuary of the Siuslaw River, leaving during summer to travel upriver and into the hills of the coast range.   The forth wave of human immigrants across the North Americas were the Europeans.   A British and American agreement for joint occupancy of the northwest region was signed in 1818.   What came to be called Oregon Country was claimed by both the States of America and Great Britain.   In 1841, settlers were using the 1,950 mile Oregon Trail from St. Joseph Missouri to reach Oregon City in the Willamette Valley where there was rich soil and a mild climate.   With so many Americans pouring in, a treaty between the States of America and Great Britain was signed in 1846 setting the boundary between the two countries at the 49th degree north latitude.   In 1848, the territorial government was set up using the "County Administration" model for local management.   This form of local governance is based on the British system brought over by the colonists.

        The "Oregon Territory" defined in 1848 included the entire Pacific Northwest.   This was subdivided into several "Territories" which by 1853 resulted in the current state boundary for Oregon.   Oregon was subdivided with one large piece being Linn County.   In 24 January 1851, Linn County was subdivided forming Lane County.   It was named for General Joseph Lane, a rugged frontier hero who was Oregon's first territorial governor.   In 1852, Lane County was subdivided to form Douglas County.   Rivers linked the inland areas to the coast; so with the desire of keeping the relating people together, each coastal county typically was centered on a major waterway extending inland.   The major boundary changes from county formations ended for Lane County in 1854 while minor boundary changes continued until 1923.   On 14 February 1859, Oregon was converted from a Territory into the 33rd State of the Union.

        Oregon currently has 36 counties with minor changes in their borders ever since.   The largest county is Harney with 10,228 square miles.   Lane County is 4,620 square miles; larger than both the States of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.   Multnomah County is the smallest county with 465 square miles.   90% of Lane County is forest land with around 70% of Lane County being public (state/federal) owned lands.   The proposed Siuslaw County "subdivision" is roughly 480 square miles which may expand going a bit further eastward depending on the people along that north/south line.

        The recent subdivision effort is not the first time nor the first use of the proposed name.   Keith Stanton located the first to be in 1913, when the Oregon Legislature approved revisions which allowed an area by its own choice to form a new county.   With continuing dissatisfaction with Lane County officials' responsiveness to the coastal citizens, a petition drive was initiated and sent out in 1914.   The timber interests called for a new county to be called "Siuslaw County".
        There were several attempts over the years.   A recent effort was in 1975, after dissatisfaction with Lane County officials' responsiveness to the coastal citizens.   The people in the Mapleton area 14 miles inland from the coast rekindled the movement.   The Lane County seat reportedly responded by bringing services and facilities to the coastal community as a compromise to get the movement leaders to halt the movement.   This has probably been done repeatedly between 1913 and the present with the coastal people duped by these fleeting concession each time.   In but a few years, the coast again becomes a taxed yet services-orphaned community.
        Then in 1984, Florence Mayor Wilbur Ternyik mounted an effort after dissatisfaction with Lane County officials' responsiveness to coastal citizens.   This attempt was made via the legislative process which Wilbur considered the most viable.   The proposed name chosen was "McCall County", honoring the highly regarded former governor, in the hopes this would gain the needed votes to pass.   When it was assured, the governor contacted those spearheading the effort requesting the effort be stopped.   The stated fear was that other communities and emerging communes would seek similar local-control; the effort was halted.
        The latest started in 2005 when Florence area resident Keith Stanton noted the Oregon Constitution and Revised Statutes since 1913 provided a process for the disenfranchised citizens of an area to choose for themselves via a petition and ballot vote.   The coastal discontent with the valley has not changed while the unfairness had continued to worsen.   A petition was approved and circulated without any further extensive marketing in the hope the local voters were ready to go.   But, the coastal people wanted the expensive approach of full, thorough, and independent studies of all the financial issues along with an extensive campaign which exceeded the 2005 thrust.   Siuslaw County will happen when the coastal people move from "talking" about local control to "acting" on it starting with supporting a county formation committee.

        Frederick Douglas in 1857: "Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.   They want rain without thunder and lightning, they want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters. ...   Power concedes nothing without a demand...   It never did...   and it never will...   Find out just what the people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted...   The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

        Siuslaw County remains not a question of "if" but of "when" for Lane County is now even failing to provide services to those at its home base (valley).   Regarding the cost; the coast receives little to nothing lacking control of the finances.   Keeping the estimated $20 million locally, we will see the fruits locally of our taxes and federal/state pass through funds.   The debate is not can the coast afford it; rather, will it cover five or cover ten Sheriff deputies plus our own resident Sheriff, prosecutor, court, county offices, and staff vs the current zero - zip - nada...

    Safe - Local - Equitable - Affordable - Representative