Great Western Cities ‘On-the-Air’ tour: Coos Bay, Oregon

The ninth and last in this series.

This tour winds up in Coos Bay, Oregon and I think fittingly. How so? Picture this “Great Western Cities ‘On-the-Air’ tour” series as a train. It has a beginning (the locomotive), a middle (the rolling stock) and an end (the caboose – you remember those, right?). In the lead-off spot is Grand Prairie, Texas followed by Vail, Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Luis Obispo and Long Beach, California (in that order); Flagstaff, Arizona; Mountain View, California; Reno, Nevada and last but by no means least, today’s entry, Coos Bay, Oregon – the caboose. Funny how the two – Coos Bay and caboose – syllable- and pronunciation-wise even sound alike. And, as it turns out, as words spelled out, there are many common letters.

A seaport city, Coos Bay isn’t what I would call “typical,” like Newport News or Norfolk in Virginia; Charleston in South Carolina; Seattle in Washington; or even Los Angeles or Long Beach or Stockton in California are. Nope, this coastal port situated in Oregon along the eastern Pacific is one of the cleanest and greenest I can think of anywhere in the continental U.S. In fact, during my stay – which was back in the early 1990s – I can’t remember at any time the air not being good. Moreover, nowhere on the American Lung Association’s “Most Polluted Cities” list for ozone, daily or yearly particle pollution can Coos Bay, Oregon be found. And, that’s a good thing and I hope it stays that way.

So back to the visit, on vacation then in late summer, I had driven north along the California coast on Highway 1 and on some parts on combination SRs (state routes) 1 and 101 this resulted in my entering Oregon south of the appropriately named Pacific Ocean seaport town of Harbor and Brookings just north of that. It was a relatively long trek from there to the town of Coos Bay which sits a little ways inland from the ocean on an inlet.

One of the things that really stood out about Coos Bay was in its own harbor were these huge ships that were docked there. I also remember rain and the extremely craggy and rocky coastline. And, as well, I very distinctly remember seeing a place called Simpson Reef – named for a prominent family whose own roots were in tree (wood) harvesting and processing? I was amazed by all the local lumber-related industry, there and elsewhere in state. I also recall the weather being cool but not cold.

Like this account, short but sweet my Coos Bay visit was.

Oh, and incidentally: In getting to and from there were many highlights. Driving up and down the Oregon coast took me to and through towns like Florence, Gold Beach, Newport, North Bend, Reedsport and Tillamook (known for its cheeses) to name a few. Thinking back, places along the way through which I had traveled were some of the most picturesque this side of the Mississippi. I even spotted a covered bridge or two.

“This side of the Mississippi,” the river, that is, what this whole “Great Western Cities ‘On the Air’ Tour” series really is about.

This concludes the “Great Western Cities ‘On-the-Air’ tour” series. Hope you enjoyed the tour.

Coos Bay Waterfront
Coos Bay Waterfront

Image above: Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

– Alan Kandel