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Think Out Loud

Our Town The Coast

Pete Springer/OPB

This holiday week on Think Out Loud we’re going to take you on a virtual tour of the state, highlighting some of our favorite moments from the Our Town series that we did this year. During the year we traveled to Astoria, Port Orford Camas, Woodburn, Warm Springs, Bend, La Pine, Monument, Baker City, Ontario, Lakeview and Roseburg.

We begin, today, with the coastal towns: Astoria and Port Orford.


Astoria is the oldest settlement in Oregon. In fact, the Chamber of Commerce is among those who regularly boast that it’s the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. When we visited last December, Astoria was wrapping up its bicentennial celebration.

Astoria’s traditional natural resources like fishing, canning and logging are no longer the main fuel in its economic engine. They’ve been supplemented by new businesses and industries. And although it’s a working waterfront, where logs and other cargo are loaded and unloaded, it’s also become a regular port of call for cruise ships. Sometimes as many as 3,000 cruise ship passengers will flood the town, wearing little identifying pins, so that the volunteer “Astoria Cruise Hosts” can help them navigate the town and find what they’re looking for.

You can find a map of Astoria and portraits of many people who live there on the Our Town companion website and here are some photos from the live show at Astoria’s Historic Liberty Theatre:


Port Orford

Port Orford is the oldest town on Oregon’s coast (though Astoria is the oldest settlement). Situated along Highway 101, Port Orford is just 62 miles from the California border.

Fishing is big business in the town, just as it is in many coastal communities. Citizens launched a campaign earlier this year to “keep the port in Port Orford.” The harbor is filled with sand, creating challenges for fishermen who use it on a daily basis. The Army Corps of Engineers said earlier this year that they can’t afford to dredge the fishing port. 

Artists also play a significant role in the life of the town. There are eight galleries. (In a town of 1,150 people, that’s roughly one gallery for every 144 residents.) Each one showcases the work of local artists working in a variety of media, from oil paints to metal sculptures and even scrimshaw.

You’ll find out much more about Port Orford on our companion website right here

Do you live on the coast, or visit there? How do you see the economy changing? What makes the coast special for you?

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