Visitors to McCloud, CA may start wondering what State they are actually in given the abundance of signage in the area alluding to the “State of Jefferson”. The State of Jefferson was a proposed U.S. state that would span the contiguous, mostly rural area of southern Oregon and northern California, where several attempts to secede from Oregon and California, respectively, have taken place in order to gain own statehood.
The State flag is green, and the charge is the Seal of the State of Jefferson: a gold mining pan with the words “The Great Seal Of State Of Jefferson” engraved into the lip, and two Xs askew of each other. The two Xs are known as the “Double Cross”, and signifies the region’s sense of abandonment from the state governments in both Salem, Oregon and Sacramento, California.
The “State” is diverse politically, with a mixture of conservatives and liberals. Many share the Westerner’s common disdain of government and politics. “Politicians and diapers need to be changed often for the same reason,” reads one bumper sticker. And many also share a desire to hang on to the landscape that draws both residents and tourists to an area that stretches from the stunning Oregon coast to ethereal Crater Lake and down to California’s towering Mt. Shasta.
The Jefferson area has preferred Republican presidential candidates in recent decades, contrary to the consistent Democratic-lean of California and Oregon as a whole. The state plurality have voted for Democrats in every election in California since 1992 and in Oregon since 1988. However, Republican candidates have carried the seven counties of the Jefferson proposal since 1996, except for a close Democratic victory in Jackson County in 2008. Ross Perot, a third-party presidential candidate, fared better in this region in 1992 than he did on average nationwide.
Jefferson is commemorated by the State of Jefferson Scenic Byway between Yreka and O’Brien, Oregon, which runs 109 miles along State Route 96 and U.S. Forest Service Primary Route 48. Near the California – Oregon border, a turnout provides scenic views of the Klamath River valley and three informative display signs about the republic.
As of the 2010 Census, if the Jefferson counties were a state, the state’s population would be 457,859 – smaller than any state at the time. Approximately 82% of those residents live in Oregon. Its land area would be 23,193.76 square miles – a little smaller than West Virginia. The area is almost evenly divided between Oregon and California. Its population density would be 19.74 inhabitants per square mile – comparable to Idaho.
As we were going through the due diligence to determine where we would purchase retirement property, the social and political landscape of the area were of great importance to us. We’re not fans of big government and as the product of a military family, we cling tightly to traditional American values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as a strict interpretation of the Constitution. The self-sufficient and libertarian atmosphere of McCloud and the surrounding communities certainly appealed to us and we are glad to be surrounded by like-minded patriots, like Siskiyou Country Sheriff Jon Lopey.