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As It Was: Port Orford Elaborately Celebrates 1880 Fourth of July

The morning of July 4, 1880, opened fair and pleasant at Port Orford, Ore., with many celebrants arriving early to take part in Independence Day celebrations.

By 10:15 everyone was assembled at the Blacklock Hall for a reading of the Declaration of Independence, followed by an address by the designated Orator of the Day, Capt. William Tichenor, whose attempt in 1850 to establish a settlement at Port Orford was thwarted by the indigenous inhabitants.

After the speech, the crowd turned its attention to horse races on the beach, followed by races featuring the town’s fleet-footed young sprinters.  At noon, the Windsor Hotel spread a sumptuous luncheon for all.

Various sports fill the afternoon, including blindfolded participants attempting to drive wheelbarrows in a direct bee-line to a designated stake.  Few succeeded.

An evening ball provided music and a midnight meal received high praise. Dancing continued until daylight and beyond.

The existing newspaper of the time, the Port Orford Post, said the day’s celebration was unanimously voted the grandest affair ever to take place in Port Orford.


Source: Source: "The Fourth in Port Orford." Port Orford Post, 7 July 1880, p. 1. “Incidents of the Celebration Omitted in Our Last”, Port Orford Post, 15 July 1889, p. 1

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.