Jackson County, formed in 1831, was named for Andrew Jackson, then president of the United States. The county grew slowly but steadily throughout the nineteenth century. Its economy was largely agricultural, though coal and natural gas deposits also played their part. From 1900, when the population totaled 22,987, through 1950, when it was 15,299, each decennial census showed a gentle decline. Since the 1950s, however, the population has been on a steady rise, reaching 28,000 in 2000. Jackson County is home to the state's third-largest employer, Century Aluminum, which occupies a plant that the Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation established in the 1950s. Ravenswood, Jackson's largest community, had a 2000 population of 4,031, while Ripley, the county seat, counted 3,263. Both lie close to I-77, which bisects the county north to south.
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