Multnomah County was created on December 22, 1854. It was the thirteenth county created in the Oregon Territory. The county was named after the Multnomah Indians who were part of the Chinookan tribe that lived on the eastern tip of what is now Sauvie Island. The Multnomah County Commissioners met for the first time on January 17, 1855.
Multnomah County is the smallest county in Oregon, with only 465 square miles. It is bounded by Columbia County and the Columbia River on the north, Washington County on the west, Clackamas County on the south, and Hood River County on the east. Multnomah County is very diverse with Portland in the west and the Columbia Gorge in the east.
The dawn of the automobile age saw the construction of the spectacular Columbia River Highway running east from Troutdale in Multnomah County. The highway, built between 1913 and 1922, blended engineering and art with a vivid appreciation for the magnificent Columbia River Gorge landscape. Engineer Sam Lancaster applied lessons from some of the great European highways but drew his biggest inspiration from the idyllic surroundings. His goal was to build a modern transportation route that would take full advantage of every natural aspect, scenic feature, waterfall, viewpoint, and panorama. Contemporaries described the results of his work as a “poem in stone” and called the highway the “king of roads.” It was designated a national historic landmark in 2000.
The first farm in Multnomah County is believed to have been a nursery of young fruit trees on the east bank of the Willamette River. In the mid 1800s, this nursery supplied a great deal of the orchard stock to early pioneers in Oregon.
Multnomah County has the fifth largest gross sales in Oregon for nursery and greenhouse crops at $42 million in 2008 from 165 operations on 5000 acres. This includes container, ball and burlap, bare root, and greenhouse operations. Other commercial crops include cane berries, blueberries, strawberries, vegetables, eggs, forage, grains, and cattle. The majority of farms are small in size, with an average size of 51 acres.
Weather conditions in the Multnomah County are typically mild with cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers. Temperatures are mild throughout the year, ranging from 34°F-80°F. The predominant winter precipitation is in the form of rain. The mean annual precipitation ranges from 37-50 inches and increases with elevation.