It is on the southern Oregon Coast, at the northern end of what coastal Oregonians call the Banana Belt, because the weather from Port Orford south is noticeably warmer than the weather north of Cape Blanco. The population was 1,153 at the 2000 census.
Captain William Tichenor was the first to settle in the area of the town, which was an important early center for shipping Port Orford Cedar. It was the county seat for Curry between 1855 and 1859; while it was not formally incorporated until 1935, it was the first town to do so in the county.
In October 1941 then-mayor Gilbert Gable, frustrated with the poor condition of the state roads around Port Orford, which hampered economic development, suggested that a number of counties along the Oregon and California state border should secede and create the State of Jefferson. This movement came to an end with US involvement in World War II.
The Port is an open water dock (no natural protection} and boasts the only drydock port on the west coast. The fishing boats are lifted in and out of the water by operated cranes, set on custom made dollies, and parked in rows on the dock. As a result it is known as a "dolly dock".
The Port Orford Heads State Park is located in Port Orford on a scenic headland and historic Coast Guard station. The city is adjacent to Cape Blanco, considered by many to be the westernmost point in the lower 48 states, however this is disputed (see Cape Alava in Washington). It is also located just north of Humbug Mountain, which is considered the tallest mountain in the lower 48 to descend directly into an ocean.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.6 square miles (4.2 km²), of which, 1.6 square miles (4.1 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (2.44%) is water. A lake or natural lagoon exists within city boundaries as well as a large amount of wetlands.
There were 571 households out of which 19.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.0% were married couples living together, 9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45% were non-families. 39% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2 people and the average family size was 2.66.
In the city the population was spread out with 18.8% under the age of 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. For every 100 females there were 92.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $23,289, and the median income for a family was $29,653. Males had a median income of $35,221 versus $15,179 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,442. About 16.1% of families and 17.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.9% of those under age 18 and 9.2% of those age 65 or over.
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