Port Orford, Oregon

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Port Orford is a city in Curry County, Oregon, United States. 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.

The town takes its name from George Vancouver's original name for Cape Blanco, which he named for George, Earl of Orford, "a much respected friend."



Before the arrival of European settlers, the Port Orford area was originally inhabited by Tututni peoples. The Tututni languages were a part of the Pacific Coast Athabaskan language family.[3]

The first European settlers, led by Captain William Tichenor, arrived in 1851. Tichenor, needing to return to north for supplies, left a group of nine men behind. However, members the local Qua-to-mah tribe reacted with hostility to the newcomers, whom they felt were encroaching on their territory. Taking up a position on a nearby seastack, now known as Battle Rock, they were attacked by a band of over 100 warriors. 23 natives were killed and two of Tichenor's men were wounded in the ensuing conflict. Soon afterwards, a truce was called between the two groups when the settlers told the natives that they would be leaving in 14 days. For the next two weeks, they did not see any members of the local tribes. However, after the 14th day, an even larger band of warriors than the first attacked. During the battle, the chief of the tribe was killed. Retreating with their dead chief, the tribe set up camp nearby. The settlers soon fled north under cover of darkness.[4]

Port Orford was formally founded in 1856. It would serve as a receiving port for mercantile and fishing. The port district was formally set up over 50 years later in 1911. It was during this time that Port Orford would become a shipping port for local Port Orford Cedar. The port was sold in 1935. However, in 1957, a little over a hundred years since the cities founding, the port was bought back. Eventually, Port Orford would see a decline in fishing and the shipping of timber would cease.[4]

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.[5]

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