Coos County Logging Museum in Myrtle Point.

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.

Reedsport, OR, a city of approximately 4,154 people, is situated on the estuary of the Umpqua River and is named after a local settler who founded the city in 1912, Alfred W. Reed.

Reedsport, OR. Image Source.

At that time, the Southern Pacific Railroad lines extending south to Coos Bay led to the development of Reedsport, which was originally a camp for railroad construction workers before the post office was established that same year.

Like many communities on the coast of Oregon, Reedsport historically was economically dependent on Oregon’s timber industry and has been subsequently impacted by the industry’s decline. In the past two decades, however, Reedsport has experienced an increase in tourism due to various nearby points of interest and the large amount of outdoor recreational opportunities available. The Umpqua River supports one of the largest recreational fishing ports on the coast of Oregon and is the largest river between Sacramento and the Columbia.

The Umpqua River Bridge, Reedsport, OR. Image Source.

Reedsport also sits in the heart of the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area; therefore there are many opportunities to explore, hike, ATV, and more on the Dunes.

Reedsport is arguably most notably known for the famous Dean Creek Elk Viewing area, which is just three miles east of town on Highway 38. The Dean Creek Elk Viewing area is owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is a popular stop for tourists along the highway. Throughout the year, visitors are treated to up-close views of Roosevelt elk grazing and resting in their resident meadow. Roosevelt elk are the largest of the four North American elk subspecies.

Roosevelt elk at the Dean Creek Wildlife Area, Reedsport, OR. Image source.

The herd at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing area sometimes reaches as many as 120 elk, and other wildlife that visitors often see include beavers, muskrat, mallards, Canada geese, and great blue heron. To learn more about the Dean Creek Viewing area, visit the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s visitor guide.

Florence, OR is a coastal city located at the mouth of the Siuslaw River about midway between Newport and Coos Bay. With a population of approximately 8,466 people, Florence is a historic riverfront town that provides a diverse array of activities for locals and visitors.

Heceta Head Lighthouse. Image Source.

While the logging, commercial fishing, and agricultural industries have served as the historical pillars of Florence’s economy, tourism is becoming increasingly significant. There are a variety of businesses, points of interests, and parks in and around Florence that offer unique experiences and outdoor recreation. One can enjoy headliner entertainment at the Florence Events Center or Three Rivers Casino Resort after exploring the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint and the Heceta Head Assistant Keeper’s House. The park features a seven mile network of hiking paths that join the short hike to the lighthouse. The Keeper’s House functions as both an interpretive center and a bed and breakfast. Guided tours are offered by knowledgeable docents during the summer to educate visitor’s about the iconic lighthouse and its rich history.

The Sea Lion Caves. Image Source.

A must see attraction located fifteen minutes from the Florence city center is North America’s largest sea cave, which is a privately owned wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary, and is inhabited throughout the year by as many as 200 Stellar sea lions. Visitors can take an elevator ride descending 200 feet down into the Sea Lion Caves, which is as tall as a 12-story building and as wide as a football field. As the Sea Lion Caves are part of the Oregon/Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve, the Caves are not a zoo; the wild animals are protected and come and go as they please and follow their natural . During the summer, the sea lions can be found lounging in the rookery areas (along the rock ledges outside) with their young. In the fall and winter, they can be found inside the cave’s natural amphitheater. This sea cave is the only known mainland home of wild sea lions in the world and is a must see for visitors of Florence.