Curry County is located at the most southwestern corner of Oregon. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, California to the south, Coos County to the north and Josephine County to the east. Curry County was created from the southern part of Coos County on December 18, 1855. Boundary adjustments were made to Curry County in 1872 and again in 1951 with Coos County and in 1880 and 1927 with Josephine County. This increased the size of the county to 1,648 square miles.
The county was originally proposed to be named after Captain William Techenor, a council member from Port Orford. He declined the offer because his constituents wanted to honor the territorial governor George Law Curry. The original Curry County courthouse was in Judge Fred Smith’s home in Port Orford. The first ‘real’ courthouse was built in Gold Beach in 1912 and the current Curry County courthouse was built in 1958. The first government of Curry County originally consisted of a probate judge, a three member board of commissioners, sheriff, auditor, treasurer and coroner.
Port Orford was designated as the temporary county seat until the citizens of the newly born county could decide upon a permanent site. In 1859 Ellensburg was designated, by an informal vote, to be the county seat. Ellensburg was renamed Gold Beach in 1891 because of the Gold and other minerals found in the sands in the area and to stop confusion with a city in Washington State also known as Ellensburg.
The initial settlers of the county were concentrated along the coast line and depended primarily on water transportation. Curry County was relatively isolated well into the twentieth century because of the slow development of inland transportation routes. Explorers discovered gold and other precious metals in the area in 1852 along the beaches and in the Chetco and Rogue rivers. Although there is still some mining of cobalt, nickel and chromium in the Gasaquet Mountain area, the area’s economy has turned to agriculture and timber. Myrtle wood and Port Orford cedar are very important export products for the area. The county also has excellent grazing area for cattle and sheep and produces most of the Easter Lilies raised in the United States. There are also numerous recreational areas and activities that draw tourists to the area. A list of these activities follows:
Hiking ** Beachcombing ** Whale Watching **Kayaking ** Rafting ** Windsurfing ** Camping ** Fishing ** Lighthouse Tours ** Bicycling ** Horseback Riding ** Jet Boat Trips ** Golf **Agate Hunting **
For some interesting Legends and Lore on Curry County check out these stories: