Wheeler County is located in the central north eastern portion of the state, approximately half way between Bend and Pendleton.
Wheeler County was created on February 17, 1899 from parts of Grant, Gilliam, and Crook Counties. The county was named for Henry Wheeler, who operated the first stage line through the county. Fossil, Mitchell, and Spray are the three incorporated towns in the county. Fossil was designated the temporary county seat and in 1900 was elected to be permanent. Fossil’s name was derived from the first postmaster’s discovery of fossil remains on his land in 1876.
Principal industries in the county are agriculture, livestock, and government. The county has a total area of 1715 square miles and the 2010 census population was 1441, which by definition meets the criteria for pioneering. Out of the 1715 square miles one square mile is water. The terrain of the county varies widely from sagebrush, juniper, and rim rock to stands of pine and fir. The Painted Hills and Clarno units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument along with portions of two national forests lie within its boundaries with forest lands covering nearly one third of the county.