The history of the Port is intertwined with the City of Florence and begins with Native Americans such as the Siuslaw who lived along the banks of the Siuslaw River. Today, these people are organized under the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians.
French, Russians and Spaniards were early explorers and traders along the Oregon Coast. Heceta Head was named after the Spanish captain Don Bruno de Heceta and the English Captain Cook named Cape Perpetua. The American Captain Robert Gray sailed past Florence (and was the first to cross the bar into the Columbia River), as did the English Captain George Vancouver.
The first white visitors to the Florence area arrived around 1836 and, by 1900, the local population was about 300. Today, the population of the greater Florence area (including Mapleton, Dunes City, Swisshome, Deadwood and the surrounding areas) is about 20,000.
The Port of Siuslaw was chartered in 1909 with an economy built on fishing, canning and lumber.
In the early part of the 20th century, lumber and fisheries were the mainstays of the local economy in a relatively remote part of the State of Oregon. In March 1936, the McCullough designed bridge over the Siuslaw River was opened and became a part of Highway 101. The stretch of Highway 101 between Florence and Yachats is considered to be one of the most scenic stretches of the already scenic Oregon Coast.
Lumber products and fisheries continued to be significant players in the local economy throughout the 20th century. Agricultural products and quarried rock products were also contributors to the local economy. As the 20th century drew to a close, tourism and retirement began to play ever more important roles in the local economy.
Furniture building, value added lumber products such as mouldings, precision machine products, and niche oriented plastic products all add to the local economy. Artists of many types make this area their home and they use the scenic vistas as muse and inspiration for their work.
With the 2008 addition of fiber optics, the greater Florence area can support those high tech and information technology companies and entrepreneurs who need not be located in major metropolitan areas to conduct business. The Port currently offers the largest single piece of land overlooking the Pacific Ocean within the urban growth boundary of the City of Florence.
Located at the junction of highways 101 and 126, Florence is only about an hour’s drive to Eugene, I-5, and the airport to offer quick access for those businesses that choose to relocate to this area. We offer a quality of life on the coast with good schools and proximity to centers of higher education such as the University of Oregon and a local branch of Lane Community College.
Florence was the inspiration behind Frank Herbert’s “Dune”. Florence and Mapleton were backdrops to Ken Kesey’s “Sometimes a Great Notion”.
The Port of Siuslaw invites you to add your own history to this area and to become a part of the future of greater Florence, Oregon.
Siuslaw Pioneer Museum
Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw