Coos Bay

Coos Bay

Coos Bay, city (1990 pop. 15,076), Coos co., SW Oreg., a port of entry on Coos Bay; founded 1854 as Marshfield, inc. 1874, renamed 1944. Casino gambling, computer services, lumbering, shipping, tourism, fishing, and canning are important industries. It is a worldwide lumber-shipping port that ships much of its products to Japan. Due to environmental concerns, however, the Coos Bay wood-products industry has experienced a depressed market and a severe loss in jobs since the 1980s.
Coos Bay is a city located in Coos County, Oregon, United States. As of the 2000 census, Coos Bay had a total population of 15,374. The 2007 estimate is 16,210 residents. The city is located at the mouth of the Coos River on Coos Bay on the Pacific Ocean, and borders on the nearby city of North Bend. Together, the cities are often referred to as one entity, called either Coos Bay-North Bend or the Bay Area.


Nineteenth century

Sir Francis Drake is said to have sought shelter in the bay for his ship, the Golden Hind and her crew in 1579.

There has been a settlement on Coos Bay since 1853, when the town of Marshfield was founded there and named after the Massachusetts hometown of its founder, J. C. Tolman. The first Methodist church in the area was established in 1857. By 1866 the inhabitants, who were reliant on the sea for their income, had built the Cape Arago Light. The setting up of a post office in 1871 and the arrival of the Coos Bay Wagon Road in the town a year later connected Coos County with the Umpqua River valley in neighbouring Douglas County, on the other side of the Coast Range of mountains. This wagon road, although long gone in its original form, is still partially in existence since the route of Oregon Route 42 roughly follows the original right of way.

1869 saw Coos Bay set up its first, and the state's 48th, chartered Masonic Lodge. Named Blanco Lodge, this brotherhood was set up by several of the town's founding fathers. With this development, the incorporation of Marshfield came in 1874. One of the nation's oldest still-operating machine shops, the Nelson Machine Works-Coos Bay Iron Works, was set up in 1888.

Twentieth century

1908 saw the first automobile to arrive in the town via the Coos Bay Wagon Road, where previously the inhabitants had relied on imports by ship or lesser trails.

In 1916 the Southern Pacific Railroad to Eugene arrived in Marshfield. This enabled quick links for the first time with what was then the state's second largest city, and onwards to the rest of the west coast through the SPR's ever-expanding network. In 1922 disaster struck Marshfield, when a fire in the business district ended up burning down a large part of the immediate area.

In 1928 the town embraced new technology once again by setting up KOOS-AM. This network, now broadcasting on the FM band, was the first of what was to become several Coos Bay radio stations.

The 1934 West Coast longshore strike did not leave the town untouched. While violence of the scale seen in San Francisco between the unions and police was not witnessed in the Coos Bay area, its long-lasting effects did leave their mark on the local shipping industry.

By 1944 there was widespread discontent among the populace with the name of their town. Rather than keeping the name of a town in far-away Massachusetts, the residents voted to change the name of the town to Coos Bay. Marshfield's name change to Coos Bay resulted from a 1943 consolidation vote among the residents of Marshfield and North Bend, and an unincorporated area between them. Marshfield voted for the consolidation and North Bend rejected it. In 1944, Marshfield citizens held a general election, adopting a new city charter and name, Coos Bay.

The worst loss of life for a fire department in modern Oregon history occurred in Coos Bay on 25 November 2002, when three firefighters were killed by a structural failure of the roof in an auto body shop. The accidental blaze paralyzed the city for several hours, with fire departments from several neighboring towns helping to try and stop the blaze. Captain Randy Carpenter, Firefighter/Engineer Robert "Chuck" Hanners and Firefighter/Engineer Jeff Common, all from Coos Bay, died when an explosion caused the roof of the building to cave in - they were on the 2nd Floor at the time.

New Carissa

On 4 February 1999, a Japanese ship named the New Carissa ran aground on a beach 2.7 miles north of the entrance to Coos Bay, drawing international attention to the town. The New Carissa was empty at the time, heading for the Port of Coos Bay to pick up a cargo of wood chips. When the captain was told that the weather was too poor for the ship to enter port, he anchored his ship close by. The crew put out only one anchor, and it appears that this was probably on too short a chain to be effective. The subsequent US Coast Guard investigation found several other aspects of the ship's company's handling of the situation to have been poor, leading to the conclusion that human error caused the grounding.

70,000 gallons of fuel oil were spilt by the vessel, with a further 165,000-255,000 gallons being deliberately set alight and burnt off by salvors later. The stern of the ship remains on the beach; the bow was towed out to sea and sunk after structural damage caused by the fire split the ship in two. As of June 2008, the wreck of the New Carissa is being cut into pieces and removed off the beach. The public support about this removal is not unanimous, many Coos Bay-North Bend citizens think it would have been better to leave it as a tourist attraction.

Law and government

The City of Coos Bay operates under a council-manager form of government. The Coos Bay City Council is composed of a mayor and six councilors who are elected citywide to serve four-year terms. The council is responsible for setting policy decisions and they in turn hire a city manager to oversee the day-to-day administrative functions of the city.

Coos Bay operates its own library, fire department, public works and police department. The fire department has two fire stations that are staffed 24 hours a day. There is a third station that is used to house additional apparatus.

Geography and climate

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.9 square miles (41.3 km²), of which, 10.6 square miles (27.4 km²) of it is land and 5.3 square miles (13.8 km²) of it is water. The total area is 33.52% water.

The climate in Coos Bay and surrounds can be described as temperate west coast, with winter temperatures from 37-55 degrees Fahrenheit (3-13 degrees C) and 52-70 degrees F (11-21 C) in summer. Cool breezes off the Pacific moderate the city's climate year round. Rain is abundant in winter, due to moist low pressure troughs from the Pacific Ocean. The city's annual rainfall is about 64.2 inches (around 1625 mm), but totals are less than an inch in July and August. Fog often blankets the coastal fringe; common in summer due to the temperature gradient between the cool Pacific Ocean and the warm inland. Snow falls on less than 5 days per year in the city, but can be heavy in the adjacent Coast Range. Nearby Cape Blanco is one of the windiest places on Earth, with gusts of 125 miles per hour (200 km/h)or more achieved during severe winter storms.



The Eastside district of Coos Bay was originally called East Marshfield for its situation on the east side of the bay. East Marshfield post office was established in 1891, and it operated intermittently until 1908, when the name was changed to Eastside. The community of Eastside merged with the city of Coos Bay in 1983.


The Empire district was founded as Empire City in 1853 by members of the Coos Bay Company from Jacksonville. It was expected that the town would be center of the region. The company was formed after the discovery of gold in northern California and southwestern Oregon. For a time Empire City was the county seat of Coos County. The first post office in the location was called Elkhorn, which ran from 1853 until 1854. It was the first post office in what is now Coos County, though at the time it was part of Umpqua County. Empire City post office was established in 1858 and ran until 1894, when it was renamed Empire. In 1965, the city of Empire voted to consolidate with Coos Bay.


As of the census of 2000, there were 15,374 people, 6,497 households, and 4,028 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,451.9 people per square mile (560.5/km²). There are 7,094 housing units at an average density of 669.9/sq mi (258.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 90.75% White, 0.37% African American, 2.27% Native American, 1.44% Asian, 0.31% Pacific Islander, 1.35% from other races, and 3.51% from two or more races. 4.49% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 6,497 households out of which 27.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% are married couples living together, 11.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 38.0% are non-families. 30.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.9% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.29 and the average family size is 2.83.

In the city the population is spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 25.2% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 19.2% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 40 years. For every 100 females there are 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $31,212, and the median income for a family is $38,721. Males have a median income of $32,324 versus $22,192 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,158. 16.5% of the population and 12.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 21.0% of those under the age of 18 and 9.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


The public schools in Coos Bay are served by the Coos Bay School District.


Notable residents

Points of interest

Recreational activities

The Coos Bay area is known for a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, including the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, which brings approximately 1.5 million visitors each year. Many of these visitors enjoy exploring the 6,000-acre sand dunes on their ATVs. The area's popularity has increased tourism—a growing industry in the formerly depressed economy.

Historic buildings

Mass media


KSBA 88.5 FM (college) KSOR 89.1 FM (college, translator) KJCH 90.9 FM (Christian) K217CW 91.3 (Christian, translator) KEAR 91.7 (translator) KDCQ 92.9 FM (commercial) KOOS 94.9 FM (commercial) KOOS 95.7 FM (translator) KSHR 97.3 FM (commercial) KYTT 98.7 FM (Christian) KJMX 99.5 FM (commercial) KJMX 100.3 FM (translator) KVIP 102.1 FM (Christian, translator) KYSJ 105.9 FM (commercial) KACW 107.3 FM (commercial) KACW 107.7 FM (translator)

KWRO 630 AM (commercial) KGRV 700 AM (Christian) KDUN 1030 AM (commercial) KHSN 1230 AM (commercial) KBBR 1340 AM (commercial) KMHS 1420 AM (high school)




Sister City

Coos Bay has one sister city:


  • Muppet creator Jim Henson reportedly thought "Coos Bay" was a funny name for a town. The name inspired a long-running Muppet gag, Planet Koozebane. Comedy sketches set on this fictional planet appeared on "The Muppet Show" and in several other Henson projects.
  • The last wooden sidewalk in Coos Bay was removed across from Marshfield High School in 1957.
  • "The Haircut Song" performed by Ray Stevens contains a reference to Coos Bay. When he sings about being in a "macho barber shop (in Butte, Montana)," he mentions that "I'm a logger, just up from Coos Bay, Oregon. Been topping trees. Quite possibly the toughest man in the entire world.
  • The only lynching ever to be documented in Oregon occurred in Coos Bay, of Alonzo Tucker, a black man. He was accused of raping a woman. There is no record of his escape from jail. The only account is that he was caught by a mob of 200-300 people, shot twice and hung from the fourth street bridge. The location of the hanging is across from the high school. No charges were ever brought to the mob. The newspaper at that time reported the mob was "quiet and orderly". Alonzo Tucker's cause of death was asphyxiation.

See also


External links

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