Pacific Northwest Pt.1

extent(PNW) is a place for thoughts on cartography and geography about the Pacific Northwest…or from the Pacific Northwest, or at the very least, with a distinctly PNW perspective. So, where is the ‘Pacific Northwest’? quick web search reveals this satelite image used by many sites to describe the PNW. It isn’t wrong, but it is ambiguous. Somewhere in that rectangle is a region built by subduction, lift, culture, and borders that we call the Pacific Northwest


I’m only going to talk about two of the many man made borders that could be considered when discussing the Pacific Northwest. The Oregon Country and Jefferson (the state that never was).

Below is a map made using D3. It shows the progression of administrative regions in Oregon between 1843 and 2000. The original Oregon Country is the closest administrative boundary I have seen that could be considered the extent of the PNW all on its own.

Oregon Country makes a pretty good stand in for the Pacific Northwest, but I can’t help suggesting one more political/cultural region to round things out, and that is the ‘State of Jefferson‘.

In 1941 mayor Gilbert Gable of Port Orford, Oregon announced the impending secession from Oregon and California by a group of southern Oregon and northern Californian counties to create what would have been the 49th state in the union.
State of Jefferson

The counties in the above map make up one concept for the State of Jefferson. Shasta and Lassen counties did not end up agreeing to the secession from California, and only Curry in Oregon formally signed on. I will still include the California counties of Shasta and Lassen in our Pacific Northwest based on their inclusion in this and subsequent visions of the State of Jefferson.

Combining the original Oregon Territory with the State of Jefferson we get the following administrative boundary based Pacific Northwest.

The above boundaries, real or not, create a pretty nice regional boundary. There are certainly some missing bits, and some extra bits. Click here for Part 2 which discusses the Missoula Floods.