Port Orford Old Town

A Brief History of Extant Buildings in Old Town, The Original Port Orford Business District.

“In 1852, Oregon land claims officials, checking on Port Orford, reported that the town had about 60 buildings: one sawmill, three hotels, eight stores, two saloons, one ball alley (bowling), one mine, and 14 structures in a U.S. garrison (Fort Orford). An 1854 visitor described the
town as “lively … with about 1,000 inhabitants.” He reported many stores, hotels, and saloons and much business done by miners.”

Photo taken near eventual site of 351-Building (est. 1895). Only Peg Leg Saloon building remains today.
Photo of same general area (est. 1904). The Fromm Building (and Bates/McPhillamy) still stand today.

“A forest fire destroyed the town in 1868, leaving only the Tichenor house, the stables of the Knapp Hotel, and one or two other buildings. Determined people stayed, and others came. Louis Knapp constructed a new hotel in the early 1880s. Some mines continued to operate. Logging and saw milling continued, and shipments were made by sea.”

“Settlers often had more than one source of income, such as a farm and a store or a gold mine. They might work part of the year in the logging industry or fishing. This pattern has persisted through the years. Even today, locals seek employment in Coos County.”

Photo of the Port Orford Business District circa 1917. Note logging flume in center of photograph. The only commercial buildings still standing are the Fromm Building and the Old Telephone Building. The latter was a communication hub during WWI where local citizens went to learn how the war was going as the local headlines where telephoned into the facility. The White House is the only private residence standing today.
Only commercial buildings that still stand today are denoted in this photo. The Peg Leg Saloon, believed to be the oldest existing building in Port Orford, is obscured by The Fromm Building. It was a private residence belonging to M.M. Bates (zoned commercial) that was eventually transformed into a saloon.

…[during the decade between World War I and the economic crash of 1929]. Port Orford was growing slowly, always dealing with its relative isolation from population centers, fluctuations in timber and gold markets, difficulties of maintaining facilities in the harbor, and the daily work of living in a beautiful area where warm, sunny days alternated with rainy days and brutal storms. Residents found ways to stage events and have fun as well. Conveniences were gradually added to make life easier: the automobile, telephone, and electricity. Automobiles were seen more often in Curry County after World War I ended in 1918. Major influences on the south coast, as elsewhere, were the dark days of the war, followed by the influenza epidemic, and the Roaring Twenties.

Text: Shirley Nelson. “Port Orford and North Curry County.” — PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS and additional research: REBECCA MALAMUD-EVANS
  1. The Seaside Hotel (Lindberg/Masterson)
  2. The White Western Hotel
  3. The Nielsen/Fromm Building
  4. Peg Leg Saloon (M.M. Bates/McPhillamy)
  5. C.A. Long Mercantile (Coast Candle Building)
  6. Old Telephone Building (One Lump Or Two)
  7. 351-Building (Point.B Studio)
  8. Nygren Hotel (outside of current scope)

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1 Comment

  1. Aileen Bellah

    My birthplace in 1928. My favorite place in the world.

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