Linn County History

Map of the state of Oregon with Linn county in the northwestern section blacked out.On Dec. 28, 1847 the Provisional Legislature created Linn County from the southern portion of Champoeg (later Marion) County. The boundaries were altered in 1851 and 1854 with the creation of Lane and Wasco Counties. 

The county consists of 2,297 square miles and is bounded on the north by Marion County; on the east by Deschutes and Jefferson Counties; on the south by Lane County; and on the west by Benton County. Linn County was named for U.S. Senator Lewis F. Linn of Missouri who was the author of the Donation Land Act that gave free land to settlers in the West. 

The county seat was originally located in Calapooia (Brownsville), but in 1851 the Territorial Legislature passed an act establishing Albany as the county seat. A special election in 1856 reaffirmed Albany as the county seat. 

The Spaulding School in Brownsville served as the first courthouse. A new courthouse was built in Albany in 1853 but was destroyed by fire in 1861. A third courthouse was built in 1865 and remodeled in 1890 and 1899. The present courthouse was constructed in 1940 adjacent to the earlier courthouses. 

The general administration of Linn County business was placed in the county court, composed of two elected commissioners and a county judge. The county court met for the first time in December, 1849. In 1970 the county court was replaced by a board of county commissioners. Current county officials include three commissioners, district attorney, assessor, clerk, sheriff, surveyor, and treasurer. 

The population in 2016 was 122,315. This represented an increase of 4.8% over 2010. 

The climate and soil conditions provide one of Oregon's most diversified agriculture areas, allowing specialty crops such as common and perennial ryegrass. Linn County is also home to major producers of rare and primary metals, processed food, manufactured homes and motor homes as well as the traditional logging and wood products industries. 

Linn County Courthouse
This 1940 Linn County Courthouse replaced an 1865 Albany courthouse. Brownsville served as the 1st county seat. (Oregon State Archives Scenic Image 20041021-0285​)

Linn County Courthouse

300 SW 4th Ave.
Albany, OR 97321
Clerk: 541-967-3829
Courts: 541-967-3802
Visit Linn County website >​


Crowd of about 30 people under a gazebo in 1880 in Sodaville.
1880 Sodaville concert. (Salem Public Library)
Sodaville, the sleepy Linn County town south of Lebanon, had a more effervescent personality in the late 1800s. A white settler discovered a soda spring at the site in 1847. Locals fought over ownership until it was deeded to the public in 1871. Residents soon parlayed the vicinity around the spring into a summer resort. An 1878 atlas described the "salubrious" setting:
"During the summer months, the place presents quite an animated appearance, the neighboring hill being dotted with numerous tents of visitors, who come from all sides to enjoy the soda and the social intercourse. There is a good hotel, where board can be obtained at reasonable rate also a livery stable. Quite a number of elegant cottages have been added lately, which give it quite a fashionable appearance. The waters have a pungent but not unpleasant flavor, resembling seltzer. They are known to be beneficial in diseases of the liver, dyspepsia, and some skin diseases." (Sources: 1878 Atlas Map of Marion and Linn Counties |