We received a wonderful collection of photographs for the Port Orford Historical Photos Project that shows how much our town appreciates their fishing community!

The original photographs were taken by Carrie Courtney in 2012, who was an intern at The Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT) at the time. They were captured during an effort to secure the Port Orford’s local-fishermen-sponsored Marine Reserve. The movie “Ocean Frontiers” (featuring Port Orford fishers) was also released during this time to celebrate this accomplishment. We put together a video featuring many of Carrie’s photos and added a soundtrack recorded by musician Nathan Malamud in 2022:

Port Orford has long been known as a fishing town with its proximity to the ocean and its unique port equipped with a dolly dock. Steeped in tradition, Port Orford is unique in that the fishers actually hoist the vessels out of the water every day to protect them from the severe weather, a practice that the community began in the 1800s (Source: August 2008 NOAA report). The fishing boats are lifted by two operated cranes which hoist boats in and out of the water. The town’s cranes can lift 40 foot boats (up to 25,000 pounds) to its dry-dock port, which means that local boats stay small and belong to families who fish for their livelihood. Another unique aspect of the Port of Port Orford is the fact that there is no ocean bar to cross which results in more fishable days per year.

Photographs of Port Orford’s dolly dock in action taken from Dock Beach by Carrie Courtney (2012):

More images by photographer Alan Mitchell taken from above on the dock in 2004:

Port Orford was formally founded in 1856. It would serve as a receiving port for mercantile and fishing. The port district was formally set up more than 50 years later, in 1911, and the town became a shipping port for local Port Orford Cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana). The port was sold in 1935, but brought back in 1957. Eventually, Port Orford saw a decline in fishing and the shipping of timber ceased.

Port Of Port Orford

Fishing is still a major employer in the area, providing approximately 25% of the jobs in the area (Source: OSU’s Long Form Fishing Community Profile, 2010). A tight-knit community, the fishermen and women of Port Orford share common experiences because if there is an off fishing season it affects everyone who depends on it for their livelihood, even the town residents. This tight-knit sense of community is evidenced in much of what happens in the area, which can be attributed to its geographic isolation.

You can also check out an early YouTube video (first created in 2003) by Alan Mitchell at the Port Orford Dock entitled “Port of Port Orford Oregon – Recreational and Commercial Fishing for over a Century.”

One last video shows the Port’s dolly dock in action at sunrise on November 18, 2021. Port Orford’s dock is very unique, one of only two in the U.S. – and only six in the world – making it a vital hub for Port Orford’s Fishing Community (Video by Rebecca Malamud-Evans).

More photos like this in our Maritime archive.