A Selective Chronology of South Coast History: 1900 - Present
Many of these entries have been adapted from Nathan Douthit, A Guide to Oregon South Coast History, Oregon State University Press (1999) and Douthit, The Coos Bay Region, Coos County Historical Society (2005). Other important sources of information are Emil Peterson and Alfred Powers, A Century of Coos and Curry, Coos-Curry Pioneer and Historical Association (1952) and Orville Dodge,Pioneer History of Coos and Curry Counties, OR., Coos-Curry Pioneer and Historical Association (1898) and Images of America: Coos Bay by Andie Jensen (2012). Source notes within entries below reference these publications.
The Moore Lumber Company began activities in the Bandon area. It would remain a major employer in the town through the 1960s. (see Century, p 112)
In September, an African-American bootblack and boxer named Alonzo Tucker was arrested for the rape of a white wife of a Libby miner. A mob of angry miners stormed the Marshfield jail, chased and shot the escaping Tucker, then lynched his already dead body from a bridge on 7th Street that spanned present day Golden Field in Coos Bay. (see CB Region, pp 84-85)
The Marshfield Public Library was established in June and first opened in the Henry Sengstacken Building. In 1914 a newly dedicated library building, with a grant from the Carnegie Foundation, was established in Marshfield (Jensen, p 46)
North Bend was incorporated one year after founder Louis J. Simpson (right) purchased and replatted the townsite of Yarrow and merged it with "Old Town", the mill site of his father, Asa. Louis is considered the founder of the town of North Bend. (see Century, p 107 and CB Region, pp 35-36)
Dr. Walter Culin of Coquille became the owner of the first "horseless carriage" in the county. (see Century, p 490)
K.V. Kruse and Robert Banks opened the largest ship building facility on the bay at North Bend: Kruse and Banks Shipyards. (see Coos Bay Region, p 10)
Louis Simpson, the first mayor of North Bend, completed a summer house at Shore Acres on Cape Arago.
The first daily newspaper in the region, The Coos Bay Times began publication. Today it is known as The World (see CB Region, p 34).
The Siuslaw National Forest was created by executive order of President Theodore Roosevelt. (see Guide, p 163)
The C.A. Smith Lumber Company built a mill at the mouth of Isthmus Slough on Coos Bay. It was reported to be the largest lumber mill in the world at that time. (see Guide, p 20 and p 145 and CB Region, pp 71-73)
A man named Cohen started the first motion picture house in the Bay Area in the O'Connell Building at Market and 2nd Streets in Marshfield. (Encore by Dow Beckham, p 13)
The first automobile to come over the Coos Bay Wagon Road took a week to travel from Roseburg to Marshfield. By 1913 a regular auto-stage was operating by the Laird family along this route. (see Guide, pp 92-93)
Kinney High School, the first four-year public high school in the county, was constructed on Pony Slough in North Bend. It was named for L.D. Kinney for the first year of operation. But the name was changed to North Bend High School one year later when it was discovered that Kinney did not have clear title to the land he donated to the school district.
The Chandler Hotel opened in downtown Marshfield. It was named for William S. Chandler, a manager of coal mining and railroad interests in the area and a major investor in the building. This marked an important shift of Marshfield's downtown core away from the waterfront. (see Guide, pp 138-139)
In May, the first annual "Coos County Track & Field Meet" was held in Marshfield. Each high school in the county annually participates in the meet which has now become the oldest continuously held track meet in the state.
The Czarina wrecked on the Coos Bay bar. Twenty-four people were killed in one of the worst shipwrecks on the South Coast. (see CB Region, pp 20-23)
Albert S. Kohler established The Hub department store in downtown Marshfield. It will be considered to be one of the finest shopping facilities on the South Coast until its demise in the 1970s.
Vern Gorst and Charles King established an auto stage line between North Bend and Marshfield. Cost per passenger: 25 cents a ride. (see Guide, p 165 and CB Region, pp 29 & 50)
In October stunt pilot Silas Christofferson brought the first plane into Coos County. He gave five days of exhibition and passenger flights from the grounds of the Marshfield racetrack. (Jensen, p 54)
The Coos and Curry County Fair Association was established and a horse-racing track, grandstands, and other buildings were constructed in Myrtle Point in a pasture below the home of R.C. Dement, who played a leading role in the fair's development. (see CB Region, p 61)
The Reedsport post office was established on the south side of the Umpqua River the railroad began to be built through the area at this time. (see Guide, p 166)
The jetties were completed at the mouth of the Coquille River at Bandon.
On January 2nd, a gang of 35 railroad workers near Gardiner went on strike and asked a local Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) office to represent them. By June a large anti-I.W.W. mob assembled in Marshfield and "deported" the union organizers by forcing them on a ship and sending them off at the North Spit. The "Wobblies" may have arrived on the South Coast in 1911. (see CB Region, pp 87-89)
Louis Simpson started a small resort at Sunset Bay complete with three-room cottages, large tents, and a restaurant. (see Guide, p 119)
The post office at Brookings was established and took its name from the Brookings Lumber Company which began operations there about that time. (see Century, pp 129-130)
Roadroad tracks were laid along the South Fork of the Coquille River from Myrtle Point to Rural. By 1915 the village of Rural officially changed its name to Powers after Al Powers who ran the logging operations there for the C.A. Smith Lumber Company. (see Guide, p 102)
Vern Gorst brought the first sea-plane to Coos County. Unofficially, the first U.S. passenger air service in the U.S. began when Gorst transported paying customers on a regular basis from North Bend to Marshfield.
The first severe fire struck Bandon. (see Century, p 113)
In November Coos County citizens voted to go "dry" bringing Prohibition to the county. Saloon owners had until December 31st, 1915 to close. The county vote was 4,731 "dry", 2,408 "wet". National Prohibition would not come until 1920. (see CB Region, p 49)
Vern Gorst mounted a Curtiss airplane engine and propeller on a Hupmobile chassis, added pontoons, and created the first amphibious auto which he called the "Land and Water Machine" (see CCHS photo below) He also devised a vehicle with dual tires front and back of the rear axle...creating the first "dune buggy". (see Guide, p 165)
A U.S. Coast Guard life-saving station boathouse was erected at Charleston. This building will later become part of the University of Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. (see Guide, p 123)
In November the Santa Clara wrecked on the Coos Bay bar drowning fourteen passengers and crewmen. An ugly looting incident involving hundreds of people occurred during the following week. (see CB Region, pp 91-96 and Guide, p 127)
The Southern Pacific Railroad completed a line from Eugene and the Willamette Valley to Bay Area. A "Coos Bay Railroad Jubilee" was held August 24th, 25th, & 26th with the slogan "Boost for Coos". (see Century, p 488)
The first store was built at Charleston.
The Kruse and Banks shipyard of North Bend now had five shipways and employed 481 men. Business was booming because of the Great War. In December they launched The North Bend, the first ship built for the U.S. Emergency Fleet in the United States. (see CB Region, p 100)
Nearly 29,000 army enlisted men and officers work with local citizens in Coos County during the Great War with the "Spruce Division". Sawmills, like one that formerly stood near Sturdivant Park in Coquille, produced wing-beams, struts, and ribs for WWI planes. (see Guide, p 86)
By mid-October, the Spanish Influenza epidemic had struck the Coos Bay region. Closures of schools, churches, and theaters, the wearing of gauze masks in public, and municipal bans on public gatherings were effects of the epidemic felt in the area until around Christmas. (see CB Region, pp 101-102)
In April, a paved highway opened between Marshfield and Coquille. This was part of the "Roosevelt Highway" funded by the Oregon legislature as an emergency military transportation route in 1917. "One of the great historical days of Coos County", the Coos Bay Times said of the highway's completion. By the summer of 1921, another link of the highway opened between Coos Bay and Lakeside. (see CB Region, p 109) Also in 1921 the Sandy Creek Covered Bridge was built at Remote.
Cassie Simpson, wife of Louis, died on April 30th. On July 4th, the Simpson's home at Shore Acres burned to the ground. (see Guide, p 117)
In October, an explosion 1250 feet below the ground in a Beaver Hill coal mine injured over twenty miners, four or five of them severely. (see CB Region, p 80)
A new Nestles Food Company milk condensary opened in Bandon, employing about 25 women and 75 men. (see CB Region, p 83)
A fire on July 23rd at Front Street in Marshfield destroyed a major portion of the old business district. (see CB Region, p 107-108) and Guide, p 137)
Highway 38 along the lower Umpqua River opened for auto traffic. (see Guide, p 172) Also the Liberty Theater in North Bend opened at the north end of Sherman Avenue (Encore by Dow Beckham, p 28)
Construction of Coos Bay's south jetty began at the harbor entrance. Within a year nearby Charleston had more stores, a dance hall, and a tavern. (see Guide, p 124)
The Egyptian Theater in Marshfield opened. It took its decorating theme from the publicity surrounding the recently opened King Tutankhamen's tomb. (see Guide, pp 141-142)
Louis Simpson and his second wife Lela started construction of a second mansion at Shore Acres. But the stock market crash of 1929 depleted Simpson's fortune and made it impossible for him to fully complete the home. (see Guide, pp 117-118)
The south jetty on the Coos Bay bar was completed. The north jetty had been built in the 1890's. (see CB Region, pp 104-105 and Guide, p 125)
The Evans Products Company opened a plant at Marshfield to manufacture battery separators and Venetian blinds. The term "Lumber Jinny" (as opposed to the male "Lumber Jack") was coined for the hundreds of female workers employed at the plant through WWII. (see CB Region, pp 106 and 112)
The first regular broadcasts began from KOOS radio in Marshfield. (see Century, pp 497-498)
The Sujameco wrecked on Horsfall Beach off Coos Bay.
The Elliott State Forest was created and named for Oregon's first state forester. Located on lands acquired after the "big burn" of 1868 by the state in the area south of the Umpqua River to the Coos River drainage, profits from sales of timber on the property were designated for the Oregon Common School Fund.
The construction of the tallest building on the South Coast, the Tioga Hotel, begins. With the onset of the Great Depression, the owners ran out of money to complete it. It remained unfinished until 1946. (Jensen, p 53.)
The city of North Bend, its municipal money tied up in a closed local bank, issued some the most unique Depression Era money to pay its employees. Myrtlewood coins were created and circulated throughout city businesses.
1934 Anthropologist Melville Jacobs finished interviews, and recordings, with Annie Miner Peterson of the Empire area. She was one of the last native Coos language speakers (Hanis and Miluk) on the South Coast. This was an important event in the preservation of local Native-American culture. (see Guide, pp 14-15)
The first Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps in Oregon were set up near Gold Beach in Curry County (and Benson Park in Multnomah County). Eight CCC camps were established in Coos County locations to do park work, provide fire protection, and complete other projects. Camps were at Sitkum (Brewster Valley; Coquille (Fairview); Mc Kinley; Bradfore (Upper Rock Creek); 4 miles south of Bandon; Glenn Creek (east of Golden Falls); China Flats (12 miles south of Powers); and at Coos Head near Charleston where workers completed trails at Cape Arago. A CCC camp at Reedsport near the current high school worked on projects from the Umpqua River south to Coos Bay, including, in 1937, the airport landing field at Lakeside. (see Guide, pp 173-175)
Several processing plants for the pilchard or sardine fishery were built at North Bend and Marshfield. For two years the industry brought a large fleet of about 39 purse seiners to the waters off Coos Bay. This industry ended by 1937. (see CB Region, pp 115-116)
The McCullough Bridge, a Public Works Administration (PWA) project on Coos Bay, was dedicated on June 6th, completing Highway 101 (the Oregon Coast Highway). A large celebration marked the event. The Roosevelt Ferry that had transported passengers across the bay from North Bend to Glasgow was retired. (see Guide, pp 152-153)
The town of Bandon was nearly destroyed by its second large fire. The fire destroyed almost every building in the city. One of the buildings that survived is the Masonic Temple building at 2nd Street - originally built in 1913. (see Century, pp 113-114 and CB Region, pp 116-118)
The Hallmark Fisheries Plant opened in Charleston. It mainly processed crabs. (see CB Region, p 116)
Al Qualman began his oyster business on Joe Ney Slough, near Charleston. (see Guide, p 130)
The Bandon Lighthouse ceased operation. (see Guide, p 109)
The Simpson family, who had donated a portion of their Cape Arago estate to the State of Oregon in 1932, sold the remainder of Shore Acres to the state at the outbreak of WWII. During the war, Cape Arago was cut off to the public and the used as part of the coast watch system. After the war, the 2nd Simpson home, now in disrepair, was torn down. The entire property became a state park. The pond, gardens, and gardeners cottage are part of that beautiful state park today. (see Guide, pp 117-118
In September of 1942, incendiary bombs were dropped on Mt. Emily, east of Brookings, in Curry County by a small plane launched from a Japanese submarine off the southern Oregon coast. A second attack near Port Orford occurred two weeks later. In October, the Japanese sub attacked the oil tanker S.S. Camden just west of Winchester Bay and the next day torpedoed the Larry Doheny off of Port Orford. These attacks mark the only time the Japanese directly attacked the continental United States during WWII. (see Guide, pp 70-71)
Marshfield changed its name to Coos Bay after consolidating with some neighboring towns. (see Century, pp 102)
Unmanned "balloon bombs", launched into the jet stream by Japan, dropped incendiary devises on Coos County and the western United States. The CCHS has a bomb ring artifact in its collection from one of the devises that fell in Coos County (see photo right):
"The Coos-Curry Pioneer and Historical Association" opened a small museum in Coquille. The 60 foot long, one-story museum cost $1,695 to build. This was the first museum in the county.
The "Bandon Cranberry Festival" was established.
The Motor Vu Drive In Theater, located on Ocean Blvd., opened on June 7th with a 52 ft. square viewing screen. (Jensen, p 121)
Brookings citizens voted to incorporate the city on July 10th. (see Century, pp 130-131)
A Century of Coos and Curry by Emil Peterson and Alfred Powers was published by the CCHS.
Weyerhaeuser opened a large lumber mill in North Bend. (see CB Region, p 120)
A lumber ship, the Oliver Olson struck the end of the south jetty at Bandon in November. After the crewmen were rescued and the ship's gear salvaged, what remained of its hull was incorporated into a jetty extension. (see Guide, p 111) 1955
Highway 101 was relocated between Coos Bay and Bandon. Prior to that it went from Coos Bay to Coquille and then west along the south bank of the Coquille River. (see Guide, p 109)
The largest, and last operating, splash dam in the PNW was the Tioga Dam on the South Fork of the Coos River. After Oregon legislation was passed outlawing splash dam operations, the Coos River Boom Company had its final drive in 1957. Photos of the event were published in Life magazine
The Coos-Curry Museum was established in North Bend's Simpson Park following a fire that severely damaged the Coquille museum in 1952. The building was constructed by volunteers.
Senator John F. Kennedy, campaigning for the upcoming presidential election, makes a stop in Coos County. Among his stops was visit to a Sadie Hawkins day student assembly at North Bend High School.
Southwestern Oregon Community College was established. This was the first community college district in the state of Oregon. The original college campus was at the old Navy facilities of the North Bend Airport. The driving force behind the founding of the Southwestern Oregon Community College District was Henry Hansen, a local retired longshoreman.
The Bandon Airport was established and dedicated. Also Bullards State Park near Bandon, on the north side of the Coquille River, was established.
On October 12th, Oregon's worst windstorm, Hurricane Frieda (nicknamed "The Columbus Day Storm"), hit Coos County and western Oregon with winds clocked at over 180 mph.
In the spring, construction began on the Empire Lakes campus of Southwestern Oregon Community College. By 1964 two buildings had been completed: Umpqua and Randolph Hall. A "Name the Buildings" committee decided that campus structures would all bear the names of old post offices that were no longer operational in Coos County.
Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was running for president, visited the Bay Area in June and made a speech in the SWOCC gymnasium.
The Coos Art Museum was established. In 1984 the museum related to the former federal post office building in downtown Coos Bay (a building constructed in 1936). THe Coos Art Museum is the third oldest art museum in Oregon. (Jensen, p 122)
The Sawdusters Theater group produce their first performance on Memorial Day weekend in Coquille. The melodrama Drusilla of the Gold Country begin a long run of successful summer theater fun. The founders of the Sawdusters were Dorothy Boskill Sanford Lee and John & Karen Moore. (Encore by Dow Beckam, p 113) The current Sawduster Theater in Coquille first became operational in 1997.
A "Single A" professional baseball farm team of Oakland began play at Clyde Allen Field in North Bend. The "Athletics" played through the 1972 season before disbanding. Previously, in the late 1950's and early 1960's, a semi-pro team, the "Lumberjacks", had played at that stadium.
A large and successful parade was held in Coos Bay for Apollo 14 astronaut Stuart Roosa. Roosa chose Coos Bay for his "home town" parade because he had met two local business men, Phil Waters and Bob Perkins, who invited him to the area. (Jensen, p 117)
Congress established The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The Oregon Dunes spread over 38 miles in length along the coast from the mouth of the Coos River to the mouth of the Siuslaw River. Some dunes reach heights of over 300 feet. Thousands of visitors explore this unique landscape every year. (see Guide, pp 162-163
The South Slough National Estuarine Sanctuary was established. This was the first ever federally reserved slough. (see Guide, p 128)
The city of Lakeside was incorporated.
The Bay Area Hospital opened its doors on May 19th.
In the year following a grand celebration of Coos Bay's centennial, the Bay Area Fun Festival was organized. The annual event has occurred on the 3rd Saturday of September ever since.1977
The Coos-Curry Historical Society changed its name when Curry County formed its own historical society and museum in Gold Beach.
A 10K run in Coos Bay was started in memory of one of America's greatest distance runners: Steve Prefontaine. "Pre" attended Marshfield High School from 1965-1969 before running for the University of Oregon. At one point in his running career, Pre held every American record in distance running. Prefontaine died in a car accident in 1975 at the age of 24.
Members of the Coos, Siuslaw, and Lower Umpqua Indians regained federally restored status as the Confederated Tribes.
The City of Coos Bay began plans to build a boardwalk on the waterfront. (Jensen, p 124)
Weyerhaeuser Company closed its large North Bend mill.
Members of the Coquille Indian tribe regained federally restored status.
The Georgia-Pacific mill (formerly the C.A. Smith / Coos Bay Lumber Company) at Isthmus Slough on Coos Bay closed.
The Coquille Indian Tribe started the first legalized gaming establishment in the county, The Mill Casino, along the waterfront in North Bend.
Curry County was annexed into the Southwestern Oregon Community College District.
The Coquille Forest was established. This 5,400 acre forest, managed by the Coquille Indian Tribe, is located near Bridge in the south part of the county.
On February 4th, the freighter New Carissa grounded off the north spit of Coos Bay. (see Guide, p 127)
The Bandon Dunes golf course opened just north of Bullards and was soon recognized as one of America's premier public courses. A second course, Pacific Dunes, opened there in 2001 and a third course was added in 2005.
The Oregon Coast Historical Railway began operation of a display area and small museum in south Coos Bay. (Jensen, p 124)
The Coos County Airport District was formed by vote of citizens in the fall. The name of the airport in North Bend was changed to "Southwest Oregon Regional Airport" in the spring of 2006. The airport had been a military facility during WWII.
The Coquille Tribe purchased the vacant Weyerhaeuser Company property in North Bend and began development of a large RV campground.
The Sawmill & Tribal Trail was established. The 5.6 mile urban trail approximates an old route first used by Native-Americans and later used by white travelling from Simpson's lumber mill in North Bend to the old Luse Mill in Empire. (Jensen, p 126)
In January the Curry Campus of the Southwestern Oregon Community College District opened for classes. The campus was established just north of Brookings.