OTE - Oregon Travel Experience

Empire City

Posted on: September 19th, 2011 in Historical Marker Details |

Subject:  Describes the history of the port city from its native origins through its decline after the turn of the 20th century.

Native Americans occupied the banks of this river and its bay long before Euro-American settlements appeared. Empire City, a bustling port of call that occupied this portion of Coos Bay’s waterfront, was once the site of an ancient Coos Indian village called Hanisitch. In 1826, fur trappers for the Hudson Bay Company were the first to meet the local natives. Emigrant settlers arrived here in 1853 to found Empire City. The community quickly established itself as an economic and commercial center. For over 40 years Empire City was the seat of Coos county government and southwest Oregon’s link to the outside world.

During the 1850s, entrepreneurs from San Francisco, attracted by an accessible, modern harbor and the region’s wealth of natural resources, began shipping lumber, coal and agricultural products to domestic and foreign markets. Regularly scheduled steamer service soon carried passengers and freight. Since imported commodities such as machinery, food staples, and clothing flowed through Empire City to the farms, homes and industry of the region, it was also the site of the United States Collector of Customs for the Southern Oregon District.

Hwy/milepost: OR 540 MP 3.8