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So Much Port Orford, So Little Time: Seriously Multilayered on S. Oregon Coast

Published 09/11/22 at 5:45 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

So Much Port Orford, So Little Time: Seriously Multilayered S. Oregon Coast Town

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(Port Orford, Oregon) – Saunter into this little burgh with its mix of soaring, rocky bluffs and blobs along with the usual sandy goodness, you'll soon find yourself in not just a pleasant beach town but a haven for whale watching as well. Those intricate sea stacks and coves seem to attract them, and the bluffs allow great vantage points. (Photo courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

Port Orford has multiple layers, that's for sure. Not only does it and the surrounding area make for nearly endless south Oregon coast exploration but there's tales aplenty about them. History, shipwrecks and gobs of ways to recreate abound here.

In 1792, explorer George Vancouver was one of the first to make contact with the local tribes, and all went essentially peaceful. Later, in the 1850s, the U.S. was on a conquering spree unmatched in its history, and in that not-so-pleasant spirit came Captain Willian Tichenor in 1851 to what would one day become Port Orford. Arriving by steamship, he was accompanied by nine men, landing right at a village of local tribes.


Cape Blanco near Port Orford, courtesy Cape Blanco Heritage Society

Tichenor's group (yes, there's a lot in the area named after him) showed up with guns and cannons, which caused tensions to immediately flare. The captain himself took off for San Francisco for a time and left the others to deal with the situation on their end. That didn't wind up well for anyone. The resulting battle gave Battle Rock its name.


Harbor at Port Orford, courtesy ODOT

Yet that was only the beginning of this awful chapter in Oregon coast history. See Cruel and Quirky History Tidbits of Port Orford, South Oregon Coast.


HIlls beyond Port Orford, courtesy Oregon Department of Forestry

Many parts of the southern Oregon coast town's history weren't all death and destruction. Sometimes it was just odd tales. Like the tale of “lost gold” that somewhat still haunts the area between there and Gold Beach. One group of Civil War soldiers purportedly found a gold mine a ways east of town, but no one could find it later. Another similar mystery began in the late 1950s when a government geologist claimed to have found a massive meteorite, snagging national attention. Again, no one could find the thing, and the whole story was debunked by the late century.

Or was it? See the same story.


Humbug Mountain, courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Port Orford is known for its stunning views left and right – and north and south. A quick drive from there, Humbug Mountain unleashes vast scenic splendor on the south Oregon coast visitor, both above and below. Beaches in and around this soaring monster (it's the tallest point on the coast next to the ocean) provide an extremely varied range of finds and landscapes, and in the winter there's some gnarly wave action around the point.


Port Orford's Tseriadun State Recreation Site, courtesy Oregon State Parks

Camping here is legendary, and there's 5.5 miles of trails that take you to those mind-altering summits at 1700 feet high. See Oregon Coast Riveting Views and Humbug Mountain and State Park on South Oregon Coast: Varied, Intricate Attractions --- A treasure trove of wilderness, trails, and cloistered beaches near Port Orford.


Courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Looking for something a little less challenging? Not far from Port Orford, Arizona Beach State Recreation Site is a calm and comely beach that boasts not just lovely stretches of sands but a variety of funky rock structures to meander on and around.

Then there's that little pond just above the beach – not something you usually find at a beach access. Arizona Beach has remarkable discoveries to be made. Arizona Beach on S. Oregon Coast: Cloistered, Sheltered from Wind, Delightfully Mellow – Arizona Beach near Port Orford is one of the coastline's more intriguingly mellow hangouts.


Port Orford, courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

More fascinating finds lurk in the place's past, like shipwrecks. One was a serious nail biter. See S. Oregon Coast Cottoneva Shipwreck a Tense Drama for Port Orford. One of the few shipwreck chunks you can see on the Oregon coast sits at Port Orford.

Another especially tragic one took place in 1919: the J.A. Chanslor left 36 dead near Cape Blanco. It was one of the deadliest ever on the coast, happening December 18.

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