Coos County was at one time one of the most productive timber-growing environments in the world as the area offered vast stands of old growth Douglas fir, cedar, spruce, and hemlock.
In the early 1850s, Euro-Americans visiting the Coos Bay area were impressed by the abundant forests and decided to capitalize on the growing demand for lumber products in California. These newcomers noted that the region contained the best timber in Oregon and compared the Coos Bay harbor as a close second only to San Francisco as a commercial depot. Its relative isolation from the rest of the state’s areas with the most commerce and largest populations allowed for Coos Bay to be tied to San Francisco both culturally and financially.
Investment in mining and lumber operations was so prominent at this time that capitalists from San Francisco and elsewhere controlled the entire southern Oregon coast economy by 1875. Investors from the Great Lakes region also sought to profit from the area’s natural bounty in the early 1900s.
As logging technology continued to revolutionize, the Southern Pacific Railroad announced its plan to construct a connection to Coos Bay and ownership of lumber mills and thousands of acres of timberland began to concentrate into a few large holdings, such as the Smith, Weyerhaeuser, and Menasha timberlands.
This is only a brief snapshot into the complex, multi-faceted history of Coos Bay’s timber industry and an extremely abridged account of the many diverse stakeholders involved. To learn more, visit the Coos County Logging Museum located in Myrtle Point. This museum is listed with the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a celebration logging industry’s rich history.
Here, you will find a plethora of photographs, records, and authentic logging tools that have been preserved over the years. The museum also displays a collection of nine large hand-carved myrtlewood panels by the renowned woodcarver Alexander Benjamin Warnock. These beautiful pieces capture the ‘glory days of the timber industry’ and are a symbolic representation of the era that so intricately shaped Coos Bay and the surrounding areas.