Coal was first discovered in Coos County in 1853, and several mines opened before R. A. Graham and J. D. Spreckles and Brother Co. of San Francisco decided to run a spur of their railroad, the Coos Bay, Roseburg and Eastern, to a hill near Beaver Slough. The railroad reached Beaver Hill on August 22, 1894, and construction of houses and a store quickly got underway. The company town prospered between 1894 and 1926 with a diverse population of Italian, Black, Greek, Irish, Scotch, English, Mexican, Scandinavian, Austrian, Chinese, and Japanese miners and their families.
Black miners were recruited from the coal fields of West Virginia, many arriving in late December 1894 with families only to find the terms of their employment had been grossly misrepresented and Coos County residents helped them return East. Later, many Black miners traveled between collieries in Washington and the mine at Beaver Hill. In the 1890s when the state’s Black population numbered around 1,000, Beaver Hill had over 100 Black residents.
The marker tells the story of Oregon’s only commercially developed coal region and the diverse company town that developed there. The story of the mine brings to light Oregon’s complex history with Black residents and the resilience Black miners exhibited.
Location: Coquille Valley Wildlife Area, entrance to Beaver Slough Parking Lot off North Bank Rd between Hwy 101 and Hwy 42
This marker was made possible by grants from Oregon Coast Visitor’s Association and Travel Southern Oregon Coast.