Lake County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is so named for the sizeable number of lakes found within its boundaries, including Lake Abert and Goose Lake. While it is among the largest Oregon counties in land area, it is thinly populated: in 2000, its population was 7,422. The seat of the county is located at Lakeview.
Linkville, now Klamath Falls, was the first county seat. M. Bullard gave 20 acres (80,000 m²) as the Lakeview townsite. By the 1875 election a town had been started there and an election moved the county seat to Lakeview. Because of poor transportation connections with the rest of Oregon, the early economic orientation of Lake County was toward California. As an indicator of that connection, both the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner arrived in Lakeview daily, often before the The Oregonian. During the 1840s and 1850s the county was part of the military courier route between The Dalles on the Columbia River and the Presidio in San Francisco. The county did not acquire a railroad connection until the 1890s. That railroad spur, the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway line running from Lakeview to Reno, Nevada, only emphasized the isolation of the county from the rest of Oregon.
Government employees from the national forest and the regional Bureau of Land Management headquarters provide stability to an economy that otherwise would have to rely only on seasonal agricultural and lumber jobs. The Bureau of Land Management is landowner of 49% of the lands within the county. Tourism is a growing industry because of the county's many attractions which include Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, Hunter's Hot Springs, Goose Lake, Warner Canyon (ski area) and areas for rock hunting.
There were 3,084 households out of which 29.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.60% were married couples living together, 7.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.20% were non-families. 26.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.84.
In the county, the population was spread out with 24.90% under the age of 18, 5.10% from 18 to 24, 24.30% from 25 to 44, 28.10% from 45 to 64, and 17.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 100.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $29,506, and the median income for a family was $36,182. Males had a median income of $29,454 versus $23,475 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,136. About 13.40% of families and 16.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.40% of those under age 18 and 9.50% of those age 65 or over.