Coos Bay and North Bend

With 38,000 people, Coos Bay and its surrounding areas make up the largest town on the Oregon Coast. It consists of a peninsula surrounded by the broad waters of Coos Bay, one of the finest natural harbors on the Pacific. The actual town of Coos Bay takes up the southern part of the peninsula and the town of North Bend takes up the northern part. The fishing village of Charleston, at the mouth of Coos Bay to the southwest, makes up the rest of the urban area. This area has no sprawl and no suburbs, the result of having no interstate highway. Sea cliffs stretch to the south and dunes to the north, with the Coast Range forming a wall inland. It may well be the most isolated city of this size in the continental United States.

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of Coos Bay, Downtown, Waterfront, Boardwalk, Tall Ship Days, The Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain visit Coos Bay for the 2015 Festival [Ask for #274.135.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of Coos Bay, Downtown, Waterfront, Boardwalk, Tall Ship Days, The Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain visit Coos Bay for the 2015 Festival [Ask for #274.135.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of Coos Bay, Waterfront Boardwalk, Fishermen's Seafood Market floats just off the boardwalk, offering fresh local fish [Ask for #271.117.]


Fishermen's Seafood Market, located on downtown Coos Bay's Boardwalk, offers fresh local fish. [Ask for #271.117.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of Coos Bay, Downtown, Coos Art Museum, Front view of museum's 1936 home, originally a post office. [Ask for #274.053.]


The Coos Art Museum occupies a 1936 Art Deco post office in downtown. [Ask for #274.053.]

Up through 1944 Coos Bay was known as Marshfield, the original core of today's downtown. Marshfield centered on the docks at the uppermost end of Coos Bay, the farthest point of navigation by deep draft vessels. Docks were built over the marshy edge of the bayfront, and buildings were constructed on the docks. Then new docks would be extended from the old docks, which would be replaced with permanent structures constructed on fill. This went on for decades. In the 1990s town fathers were thunderstruck to discover that nearly all of downtown had been built on this fill — and the State of Oregon, as owner of all navigable waters, retained title to it. This was no minor matter, as the marshes had extended three blocks inland. Clear title has, of course, long since been resolved. North of downtown leached pilings of old docks still extend into the bay.

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of Coos Bay, Downtown, An elegant old bank, now retail space [Ask for #274.050.]


An elegant old downtown bank, now retail space [Ask for #274.050.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of Coos Bay, Downtown, The Chandler, a downtown hotel now converted to condos [Ask for #274.049.]


The Chandler, a downtown hotel now converted to condos. [Ask for #274.049.]

Both Coos Bay and North Bend have boardwalks. Coos Bay's runs along its downtown waterfront for four blocks along US 101, and is lined by yacht slips, interpretive exhibits, tug boat moorings, and a floating fish market noted for its fish and chips. North Bend's extends for two blocks along the bay, half of it built over the water; you'll find it two blocks east of US 101 via Virginia Ave. It gives good views of the active logging dock immediately to its north — a rare survival of a working downtown dock.

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of Coos Bay, Waterfront Boardwalk, Welcome sign [Ask for #271.118.]


Entrance to Coos Bay's Boardwalk. [Ask for #271.118.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of North Bend, Waterfront, A ship loads logs by the boardwalk [Ask for #271.114.]


A ship loads logs by North Bend's Boardwalk [Ask for #271.114.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of Coos Bay, Downtown, Waterfront, Boardwalk, Tug boats moor by the boardwalk [Ask for #274.143.]
Tug boats moor at Coos Bay's Boardwalk. [Ask for #274.143.]

Charleston, on the urban area's southwestern edge, is one of the Oregon Coast's most important fisheries, both commercial and sport. It sits near the entrance of Coos Bay at the mouth of one of its largest sloughs, South Slough, forming a naturally sheltered harbor. It has extensive docks and boat ramps, several fish processing plants, a marine institute, and several restaurants serving locally caught fish.

OR: Coos County, Coos Bay Area, Charleston Area, Charleston Harbor, View [Ask for #274.007.]


A fish packing plant on Charleston Harbor. [Ask for #274.007.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, Charleston Area, Charleston Harbor, Crab traps [Ask for #276.186.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, Charleston Area, Charleston Harbor, Crab traps [Ask for #276.186.]
OR: Coos County, Coos Bay Area, Charleston Area, Charleston Harbor, Seafood restaurant on the floating docks [Ask for #276.197.]


Seafood restaurant on Charleston Harbor's floating docks [Ask for #276.197.]

Coos Bay has always been a major shipping point for the Douglas fir harvested in the forests of the Coast Range. Somewhere around half the forests are government owned and these are unlogged, tied up in environmental lawsuits. Only the privately owned lands are now logged, much of it in a one-square mile checkerboard left behind by 19th Century railroad land grants. Timber is loaded onto ships at several points along Coos Bay, including downtown North Bend, while the local railroad hauls out cut lumber.

OR: Coos County, Coast Range, Coquille River Mountains, Burnt Mountain Tie Road, View off a forestry road (Burnt Mountain Tie Road) towards an active clearcut on the opposite valley slope, showing foresters at work [Ask for #274.290.]


Foresters harvesting timber in the mountains just east of Coos Bay. [Ask for #274.290.]
OR: Coos County, Coast Range, Coquille River Mountains, Bear Track Road, Paved BLM road gives public access to these actively logged mountains, running through a clear-cut in a ridge-top fir forest with broad views [Ask for #274.111.]


This picture and the next give some idea of what the logged lands look like. Both are taken on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, looking into private land. All the clearcutting is on private land. [Ask for #274.111.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coquille River Drainage, Burnt Mountain Area [BLM], Burnt Mountain, Burnt Mountain Tie Road, View from Burnt Mountain northwards towards Tioga Creek Valley and Coos Mountain, showing replanted clearcuts [Ask for #274.276.]


Both of these pictures are taken from paved roads that penetrate deep into the BLM lands and are open to the public. I've posted a guide to them here. [Ask for #274.276.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of North Bend, Waterfront, Logs are loaded onto an ocean-going ship; panoramic view. [Ask for #271.159.]
Logs are loaded onto an ocean-going ship moored in the center of North Bend. [Ask for #271.159.]

One of America's finest natural Pacific ports, Coos Bay's three giant curves offer protected harbor to deep draft ships with plenty of places to construct docks. It opened to traffic in pioneer days — but on the Oregon Coast "pioneer" means the 1880s. By 1915 the bay's three major ports had come into existence. Charleston, at the mouth of the bay, was a natural site for a fishery but was originally a gold rush town where equipment could be shipped from San Francisco then rafted up a slough. North Bend, as its name implies, is at the northernmost point of the bay's great curve. Marshfield — now Coos Bay — marked the point where goods had to be transfered between deep draft vessels and small vessels coming up the sloughs. Most of this was timber rafted to the deep water port, and the bleached pilings that line the sloughs are relics of those days.

OR: Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of Coos Bay, Waterfront, Tugboats moored on the waterfront, by Front St, on Coos Bay [Ask for #274.816.]


Tugboats on Coos Bay's waterfront, moored at the center of downtown right by the Boardwalk. [Ask for #274.816.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of North Bend, Waterfront, Sunrise view from the boardwalk as a dredge deepens the channel [Ask for #276.088.]


Sunrise view from the North Bend Boardwalk as a dredge deepens the channel. [Ask for #276.088.]
OR: Coos County, Coos Bay Area, Charleston Area, Coos Head, View from the sea cliffs at Coos Bay's mouth northward over the shipping channel towards the dunes of the North Shore. [Ask for #276.140.]


View from the sea cliffs at Coos Bay's mouth northward over the shipping channel towards the dunes of the North Shore. [Ask for #276.140.]

The variety of recreational opportunities is impressive. The Charleston fisheries are adjacent to the tall cliffs of Cape Arago, a dozen miles southwest of downtown. On the other side of the bay sits the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, with 55 miles of wide beach and thousand foot dunes managed by the National Forest Service; large areas are reserved for both ATVs and hikers, the two of them kept carefully apart. The city itself has some excellent museums, a quaint downtown, and an old fashioned vibe caused by never having had an interstate highway. Behind the town lies the Coast Range, whose forest lands alternate between private timber and public preservation. Here you'll find the spectacular Golden and Silver Falls State Park, two large waterfalls a short walk from each other. Also part of the Coast Range is the Old Coos Bay Wagon Road, a pioneer wagon road in close to its original condition, passing completely through the Coast Range with remarkable scenery. Twenty miles to the south Bandon has sea spires rising from a superb beach. You can enjoy all of this knowing that the summer weather — May through September — is absolutely reliable, with temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees and rain is rare.

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of Coos Bay, Downtown, Waterfront, Coos Bay History Museum, Viewed over the pilings of a long-gone wharfside structure [Ask for #274.823.]


Coos Bay History Museum, viewed over the pilings of a long-gone wharfside structure. [Ask for #274.823.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of Coos Bay, Downtown, Waterfront, Coos Bay Historic Railroad Museum, Caboose, interior. [Ask for #274.809.]


Coos Bay Historic Railroad Museum, Caboose, interior. [Ask for #274.809.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of North Bend, North Point, McCullough Bridge (US 101), The center pier of this 1936 cantilevered steel truss bridge named for its designer, with Oregon Dunes NRA sand dunes behind [Ask for #274.935.]


McCullough Bridge (US 101), spanning Coos Bay on the north end of town. The center pier of this 1936 cantilevered steel truss bridge shows classic Art Deco features. [Ask for #274.935.]
OR: Coos County, Coos Bay Area, Cape Arago Parks, Shore Acres Cliffs, View over sea cliffs towards the Shore Acres overlook pavillon [Ask for #276.361.]


View over the sea cliffs of the Cape Arago area, towards Shore Acres State Park's overlook pavillon. [Ask for #276.361.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, Coos River Mountains, Gold and Silver Falls State Park, Silver Falls [Ask for #271.134.]


Silver Falls, in Golden and Silver Falls State Park. [Ask for #271.134.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coos Bay Wagon Road, Sitkum Community, Panoramic view over meadows towards the steep mountains that ring this isolated cove [Ask for #274.232.]
The Old Coos Bay Wagon Road. This wagon road survives in nearly original condition, yet can be easily followed with an ordinary car. It passes straight through the Coast Range. [Ask for #274.232.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, City of North Bend, North Bend Regional Airport, Panoramic view of the airport terminal and runways, with McCollough Bridge (US 101) in the background [Ask for #274.184.]
The airport for the Coos Bay urban area sits on the bay, with sand dunes and the McCollough Bridge behind it. [Ask for #274.184.]
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Coos Bay, OR
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