Curry County Oregon

Curry County was created on December 18, 1855, from the southern part of Coos County. Initially it was proposed that the new county be name after Captain William Tichenor, council member from Port Orford. However, he declined because his constituents wanted to honor the territorial governor, George Law Curry. 

Curry County is situated along the Pacific Coast in the southwest corner of Oregon. It is bounded on the south by California, on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the north by Coos County, and on the east by Josephine County. The county originally contained about 1,500 square miles. However, boundary adjustments with Coos County in 1872 and 1951 and Josephine County in 1880 and 1927 increased the area to 1,648 square miles.

Upon creation of Curry County, the Territorial Legislature fixed the county seat temporarily at Port Orford until the citizens of the county could determine a permanent site. In 1859, following an informal vote of county citizens during the general election, Ellensburg was designated the county seat. In 1891 Ellensburg was renamed Gold Beach because of the gold and other minerals found in the sands in this area and to eliminate confusion with the city of Ellensburg located in the state of Washington.

The first courthouse was in Judge Fred Smith's home in Port Orford. Apparently the town's inability to finance the construction of a proper courthouse was a factor in the vote that favored the move to Gold Beach. The first courthouse in Gold Beach was replaced in 1912. The current courthouse was constructed in 1958.

The government of Curry County consisted originally of a probate judge, a three member board of commissioners, sheriff, auditor, treasurer, and coroner. The county judge`s position was replaced by a board of commissioners in 1969. Port districts were established at Port Orford in 1919, Gold Beach in 1955, and Brookings Harbor in 1956.

The first county census in 1860 showed a population of 393. There has been a steady increase in population with the 2016 population given at 22,600, a 1.1% increase over 2010.

In 1852 explorers discovered gold and other precious metals in the rivers and along the beaches of this area. Initially settlement in the county was concentrated along the coast and depended primarily on water transportation. The slow development of inland transportation routes kept the county relatively isolated well into the 20th century. While there is still some mining of cobalt, nickel, and chromium in the Gasaquet Mountain area, the economy has reoriented to agriculture and timber. Port Orford cedar (Lawson Cypress) and myrtlewood are important export products. The county has excellent grazing areas for raising cattle and sheep. It also produces blueberries, horticultural nursery stock, and most of the Easter lilies raised in the United States. Vacation and recreational possibilities in the county draw tourists to the area and provide economic diversity.​

Three story square boxy building that is the courthouse for Curry County Oregon.
The Curry County Courthouse in Gold Beach was built in 1958, replacing one constructed in 1912. (Oregon State Archives Scenic Image 20050913-0782​)

Curry County Courthouse

29821 Ellensburg Ave.
Gold Beach, OR 97444
Clerk: 541-247-3295
Courts: 541-247-4511
Visit Curry County website >​

Whaleshead Beach​​

Oregon beach with tall and wide rock formations at the water line.
Whaleshead Beach, part of the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. (Oregon State Archives Scenic Image 20050915-0802​)
The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is 12 miles of forested park along a rugged, steep coastline accented by small sand beaches. Sam Boardman served as Oregon's first state parks superintendent beginning in 1929. He wasted no time in pursuing his vision for Oregon parks. His strategy was to focus on acquiring land, believing that purchases should be made while the land was unspoiled and inexpensive.
Boardman traveled the state for 21 years arranging land purchases, gifts and exchanges. Under his tenure the park system grew from 4,000 acres to over 60,000 acres. As a result, Oregon has a national reputation for the beauty and excellence of its state parks. (Sources: Oregon's Highway Park System | Oregon Parks and Recreation​)