Port Orford and Vicinity

An American historian named Hubert Howe Bancroft once wrote: “Port Orford is a little hamlet on the wrong side of the mountain with no reason on earth for being there.” Bancroft may not have understood why anyone would settle in such a remote area, but there was a reason... and it had to do with gold. Starting in the mid-1850s, prospectors began to brave the Oregon wilderness to find their fortune glistening in streams, rivers and rocks. The best known strike in Oregon occurred in 1852 when two tradesmen accidentally discovered gold while digging a well to water their mules. The resulting mine became known as Rich Gulch and was located along the Rogue River on the east side of the Coast Range Mountains. Many hoped the Rich Gulch strike would mean a new gold rush and many coastal settlements were founded or expanded to handle the expected influx of raw ore and the wealth which would follow. Such was the case for Port Orford. Today, with gold-rush fever an ancient memory, Port Orford is a small but picturesque community with a thriving fishing industry and a growing art scene.

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