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Empire City Hotel Offers Oasis on Oregon Coast

In the fall of 1853, the Empire City Hotel was part of the only white settlement in what would become Coos County.  It was a round, log house with just one room that contained the entire hotel, including its kitchen, parlor, dining room, and sleeping quarters.  But for a group of travelers led by Daniel Giles, the hotel was an oasis on the Oregon Coast.

Intending to purchase mining claims, Giles and six men sailed down the Umpqua River with a yoke of oxen and five horses.  At the mouth of the Umpqua, they found a small tent hotel on the beach operated by two white men.  They stayed one night, and then walked south for two more days in constant rain.  

At the north end of the Coos Bay estuary they found an empty cabin near the shore and happily spread their blankets on the floor for the night.  But unusually high tides caused by the rains flooded the cabin by morning.

Seeing their predicament from across Coos Bay, two men from Empire City rescued them in a boat while their horses swam across. Wet and exhausted, the group arrived the following morning at the oasis of the Empire City Hotel.

Sources:  Dodge, Orville. Pioneer history of Coos and Curry Counties, Or. Salem, OR: Capital Printing Company, 1898. 292-93. Southern Oregon Digital Archives. Web. 15 May 2015.

Amy Couture has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Oregon, a master’s in teacher education from Eastern Oregon University, and a master’s in history from Minnesota State University, Mankato.  A former teacher and cross-country coach, she is the author of 14 historical vignettes in the book, Astorians: Eccentric and Extraordinary.