Shirley Nelson

As It Was Contributor

Shirley Nelson moved to Port Orford on Oregon's South Coast, after having lived 28 years in Medford.  A writer since childhood, she became an elementary school teacher.  As an interested observer of her new environment, Shirley learned the history of Curry and Coos counties. She published a book in 2005 about Coos and Curry counties titled What Happened Here?.  She has published three other small books: North Curry Elder Wisdom,  based on interviews of senior citizens published in 2007; Home at Last, a history of the Port Orford Public Library, published in 2008; and Port Orford and North Curry County.  Nelson has published articles and poetry in several magazines, including Oregon Coast. Besides reading and writing, Nelson enjoys traveling, walking, bowling, music, cooking, and volunteering in community activities with her husband of 54 years, Milt. They have four children and two grandchildren.

For the second time, volunteers are rebuilding a fire lookout station used for years to scan the Rogue-Illinois watershed forests northeast of Gold Beach, Ore.

 In 1862 John and Emma Creswell started the Lone Ranch near Brookings, Ore., where they raised sheep and cattle and cut timber. Builders used a chalky white substance found on their land near the ocean as chalk, and housewives used it as silver polish.

 In the early 1900s, Gladys Miller Payne of Jackson County, Ore., often traveled to the Northern California Coast.  The trip took three days and seven fresh teams of horses from her Evans Creek home.  First, she went to Grants Pass, where she boarded the Concord stage pulled by four horses following roughly the course of today’s U.S. Hwy 199.  

 People driving or walking along Sherman Avenue in North Bend, Ore., can see a building resembling a Greek temple at the top of the hill.  Pure white, the building is solid and square with fluted Ionic columns across the front that support a classical pediment. 

 The Curry County Courthouse in Gold Beach, Ore., stands today on property once the location of a general store managed for many years by David Milton Moore. 

Perhaps Rugged Eight Dollar Mountain in southwestern Josephine County, Ore., was named by a miner who found a large gold nugget or by a man said to have worn out an eight-dollar pair of shoes climbing the mountain.  For certain, a Rogue River Indian War battle was fought in the area on March 25, 1856.

At a four-way crossroads on Hwy 42 west of Winston, Ore., stands the faded elegance of the two-story, false-fronted Brockway Store. Nothing else remains of Brockway.

 Luck ran out in August 1898 for 25-year-old Dwight Safford of Klamath, Calif.  After selling a load of fish in Crescent City, Safford headed to the Willow Saloon, where he was a frequent customer and gambler.

In 1883, Ottilie Parker and her sister at Parkersburg, Ore., on the lower Coquille River were invited to a wedding in Gold Beach, about 60 miles south. They accompanied Mary Windsor, who was older and the bride’s future aunt.

Master boat builder Lex Fromm of Curry County, Ore., learned his trade early and by age 10 was a skilled fisher, fishing guide and carver of cedar canoes.

After graduation from Gold Beach High School, Fromm earned a teaching degree at Ashland’s Southern Oregon Normal School.  He taught in a one-room school in Sixes, Ore., was a principal in Gold Beach for 10 years, and served as a Navy pilot and flight instructor during World War II.

A more than 100-year-old Monterey cypress tree known as the Baldwin cypress graces Ocean Drive in Bandon, Ore. The tree got its name from an Irish immigrant, Henry Hewitt Baldwin, who came to the United States from Bandon, Ireland, in 1846. He joined the army in 1849 and after his military service settled in the Coquille Valley.

  Many historic homes grace the city of Coos Bay on Oregon’s Southern Coast. 

  Firemen blamed an electrical short circuit in the Western Battery and Separator Co. for sparking a major blaze in North Bend the evening of July 30, 1933.  Among businesses seriously damaged were the Kruse and Banks Shipyard, the Mountain States Power Company and Western Battery, where the fire started.  Flames engulfed the three buildings within 15 minutes.