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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)