Coos county was organized December 22, 1853, out of portions of Umpqua and Jackson counties. The name is that of the natives of the bay county. It contained about the same area as Clatsop, and had over 25,000 acres of improved land, valued, with the improvements, at $1,188,349. The legislature enlarged Coos county by taking off from Douglas on the north and east enough to straighten the north boundary and to add two rows of townships on the east. Or. Jour. House, 1882, 290. It is now considerably larger than Clatsop. The live-stock of the county is valued at over $161,000, and of farm products for 1879 over $209,000. total of real and personal assessed valuation was between $800,000 and $900,000. The gross valuation in 1881-2 was over $1,191,000, the population being a little over 4,800, the wealth of the county per capita being $329. This county is the only one in Oregon where coal-mining has been carried on to any extent. A line of steamers has for many years been carrying Coos Bay coal to S.F. market. The second industry of the county is lumbering, and the third ship-building, the largest ship-yard in the state being here. Farming has not been much followed, most of the provisions consumed at Coos Bay being brought from California. Fruit is increasing in production, and is of excellent quality. Beach-mining for gold has been carried on for thirty years. Iron and lead ores are known to exist, but have not been worked. There are also extensive quarries of a fine quality of slate. The valleys of Coos and Coquille rivers are exceedingly fertile, and the latter produces the best white cedar timber in the state, while several of the choice woods used in furniture factories abound in this county. Empire City, situated four miles from the entrance to Coos Bay, on the south shore, is the county seat, with a population of less than two hundred. It was founded in the spring of 1853 by a company of adventurers, of which an account has been given in a previous chapter, and for some years was the leading town. Marshfield, founded only a little later by J.C. Tolman and A.J. Davis, soon outstripped all the towns in the county, having about 900 inhabitants and a thriving trade. It is situated four miles farther from the ocean than Empire City, on the same shore. Between the two is the lumbering establishment of North Bend.
The place is beautifully situated, and would be rapidly settled did not the proprietors refuse to sell lots, preferring to keep their employees away from the temptations of miscellaneous associations. Still farther up the bay and river, beyond Marshfield, are the settlements of Coos City, Utter City, Coaledo, Sumner, and Fairview. Coquille City is prettily situated near the mouth of Coquille River, and has about two hundred inhabitants. It is hoped by improving the channel of the river, which is navigable for 40 miles, to make it a rival of Coos Bay as a port for small sea-going vessels, the government having appropriated $130,000 for jetties at this place, which have been constructed for half a mile on the south side of the entrance. Myrtle Point, at the head of tide-water, is situated on a high bluff on the right bank of the Coquille, in the midst of a fine lumber and coal region. It was settled in 1858 by one Myers, who sold out to C. Lehnhere, and in 1877 Binger Herman, elected in 1884 to congress, bought the land on which the town stands, and has built up a thriving settlement. Other settlements in the Coquille district are Dora, Enchanted Prairie, Freedom, Gravel Ford, Norway, Randolph, Boland, and Cunningham. Gale's Coos Co., Dir., 1875, 36-61; Official P.O. List, Jan. 1885, 499; Roseburg Plaindealer, Aug. 15, 1874.