Port Orford has been a unique and beautiful fishing port since 1851, when it was founded by Captain William Tichenor of the Steamship Sea Gull. Captain Tichenor wanted to establish a prosperous seaport, and Port Orford bay seemed like a good choice. It had a natural harbor, so ships could access the port without needing to cross a dangerous ocean bar.
While Port Orford didn’t immediately become a thriving coastal town, it did eventually grow and become successful later, as more settlers moved to Oregon. This larger population made trade and fishing more profitable, and Port Orford benefited from this boom. It became a receiving port for fishing and merchandise, as its natural harbor allowed for greater access throughout the year.
In addition to fishing and trade, Port Orford was a hub for the timber industry for many years. However, timber was economically less sustainable for the town than fishing. The beautiful cedar trees around Port Orford eventually became endangered, and the timber industry declined.
Gold Run Creek Subdivision – View More Photos
Now, fishing and art are the two mainstays of the community. Fishermen are drawn to Port Orford because it offers more fishable days each year. Nearly 30 commercial fishing boats work from Port Orford. Just in 2016, the town’s fishing industry brought in around $5 million.
Port Orford is also a special port because it has one of the few “dolly docks” in the world. Instead of mooring in the water, boats are lifted in/out of the ocean and parked on trailers kept on the dock. The massive cranes that lift out the boats can support up to 25,000 pounds, well above the average weight of a fishing boat.
There are also two great salmon and steelhead rivers in the area, the Sixes and the Elk River, with the latter being part of the national Wild and Scenic Rivers System. For great food, The Crazy Norwegians Fish and Chips in Port Orford is world famous and consistently voted best fish and chips on the Oregon coast.
Next to fishing, Port Orford thrives on the arts. The town has a handful of galleries, all run by working artists. The array of artwork is diverse, ranging from handcrafted furniture and cast glass to nautical paintings and marble sculptures.
One incredible piece of art in Port Orford is a house crafted from a wrecked steamship. This ship, the Joan of Arc, went adrift in heavy fog and hit the coast in November 1920. It was headed to Los Angeles from Portland, carrying supplies and lumber. These goods were partly salvaged from the wreck and used for constructing local buildings, like the charming Joan of Arc house.
The town’s creative community also values the wilderness of the area. They’ve worked hard to keep out strip malls and big developments that compromise the natural beauty surrounding the town. You can admire the beaches, wetlands, forests, lakes, and rocky bluffs around Port Orford by hiking its trail system, which links historic sites with scenic areas.
You can also go diving near Port Orford to experience the area’s underwater beauty. The town is quickly become a popular destination for Oregon divers. Its dive sites are easy to access, and there’s a great variety of marine life. You can spot rockfish, octopuses, crab, sea cucumbers, sea stars, and many other fish and invertebrates. If you prefer surfing, you can access great waves at Hubbards Creek Beach just south of town.
In addition to the beauty immediately around Port Orford, you can visit Cape Blanco State Park, just north of the town. Originally a huge ranch owned by a pioneer dairy farmer, Cape Blanco offers year-round camping with electric campsites and yurts, as well as a horse camp with seven miles of horse trails. You can walk along the beach at sunset, or hike one of the trails for breathtaking ocean views.
While you’re visiting Cape Blanco, you can also check out the historic Hughes House, a restored Queen Anne-style home built by the pioneers who once owned the Cape Blanco land. It’s one of the best preserved nineteenth-century homes in the US and will give you a glimpse of coastal life at the turn of the century.
For a tour of more secluded homes and real estate around Port Orford bay, contact one of our brokers who can show you around the area. Port Orford may not be the most famous town on the Oregon Coast, but it’s certainly one of the most beautiful.
Here are a few other great listings to check out:
A 4 bedroom and 3 bathroom home which includes two master suites and a huge shop on 1.5 acres in the prestigious Cedar Terrace neighborhood.
An adorable 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house with locally sourced hardwood throughout on a beautifully landscaped corner a half block from Garrison Lake.