Our identity and heritage have been based on our natural resources. We overlook the mighty Pacific. Rivers, wetlands, creeks, beaches and green bluffs all make up the wild and windy landscape. Our residents appreciate the community’s environment with fresh air, changing cloud formations all the way to the horizon, gorgeous sunsets, a mild climate and dark night sky.
Like many small American towns, Port Orford is in a time of transition between our history and our future, trying to find the best way to shape development to protect and enhance our unique nature.
Our past is rooted in fishing and timber, particularly the beautiful but endangered Port Orford cedar. The timber has faded, but the fishing remains a vital part of our community.
The natural harbor at the north end of Port Orford Bay has one of only two “dolly docks” in the US and six in the world, where boats are lifted in and out of the water by huge cranes and parked on large, custom-made trailers on the dock. A working fishing port, the Port Of Port Orford is home to almost 30 commercial fishing boats, which landed nearly $5 million in product last year.
We are also known for our active artist community, with 8 galleries owned and operated by working artists, and for some of our beautifully maintained historic sites, such as Hughes House and the Coast Guard Lifeboat Station.
We’re in the middle of the south Oregon coast, halfway between Gold Beach and Bandon, about an hour north of the Oregon/California border; just south of Cape Blanco, a headland terrace dated at 80,000 years old, and north of Humbug Mountain, the tallest mountain in Oregon to rise directly from the ocean.
The nearest major city is Coos Bay, 44 miles north, and we are 266 miles from Portland, about a 5-hour drive. Click here for flight information…
Port Orford was first inhabited by the Native American Qua-to-mah tribe of the Tututni peoples. Captain Wm Tichenor brought the first European settlers in 1851, and the town was formally founded in 1856 and incorporated in 1935.
Stats on Port Orford
Our town has a total of 1.6 square miles, with Garrison Lake, a 130-acre fresh water lake in our boundaries, along with a large wetlands portion.
As of the 2000 census, there were 1,153 people, 571 households, and 311 families living here in 62 housing units. a9.6% of the households had children under 18 living with them, 44% were married couples, 39% were individuals and 18.2% had someone living alone who was 65 or older.18.8% of the population was under 18, 3.4% from 18 to 24, 19.7% from 25 to 44, 30.8% from 45 to 64, and 27.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 50 years.
Median household income was $23,289.
While our population numbers appear fairly stable over the past 50 years, the differences in makeup reflect changing demographics and a shift that is becoming more pronounced over time : a change from a natural resource-based economy to a retirement and service economy.
The harbor’s commercial fishing fleet and processing facilities, together with service industries and summer tourism, are the economic mainstays of the community.
Today, commercial fishing continues to be a significant economic sector of the community. The Port estimates that between 90 and 120 people are directly or indirectly involved with the commercial fishing industry in Port Orford. A number of businesses provide services such as fabrication, tools and supplies, which support the industry. The Port facility is an important feature because of its economic impact on the community, and because of the unique ambiance that attracts the local population and visitors.
Tourism continues to be a significant employer for the community. Port Orford’s location on the Pacific Ocean provides ambiance, and its location along Highway 101 provides exposure to the traveling public. The natural beauty of the area, its unspoiled environment and the authentic feel of the community are magnets that appeal to visitors.
The three top employers in Port Orford are government at 29 percent, trade transportation and utilities at 22 percent, and leisure and hospitality or tourism at 17 percent.
Source for much information: Looking to the Future, 2006 City of Port Orford Comprehensive Planning Report.
Average rainfall: 74″
Hottest month: July
Coldest month: Jan
Wettest month: Dec
Driest month: July