As the rest of the New
World, Florence was originally inhabited by the Siuslaw Indians,
whose name to this day is shared by the mighty river that flows
through the country where these Native Americans once lived.
Europeans first began traversing this region during the Golden Age
of Exploration, when Spanish galleons sailed off the coast,
charting the territory. Years later, on his northwest voyage, the
famous English seaman Captain Cook explored the Oregon coastline,
giving names to many present landmarks, such as Cape Foulweather.
In the second half of the
19th century, Anglo-Americans permanently settled the area that
would become Florence. This rugged frontier community depended on
the logging and fishing trades for its economic survival. The town
hit a landmark population of 300 in the year 1900, a year when it
was proud to boast a lumber mill, two general stores, two
canneries, a saloon, and a weekly newspaper.
One of the town's most
complete mercantile stores, located in the Kyle Building, was
built in 1901. Bulk goods, farm tools, hats, boots, and other
items were sold here, providing residents necessities for life in
what was a remote part of the state. The town's vital link across
the Siuslaw River was provided by ferry boats until 1936, when the
picturesque Siuslaw River Bridge was completed. The ferries were
soon made obsolete, overtaken by the growth of the automobile.
Today the town's legacy is
still going strong and its history is well-preserved. Historic
buildings line the narrow streets and picturesque waterfront of
Old Town Florence. The Kyle Building can still be found along Bay
Street, where it now represents a perfect example of early Central
Coast commercial architecture. There are even a few remnants of
the old Siuslaw ferry service on the south side of the river.
Finally, there are a number of historic lighthouses left along the
Oregon coast, including the one located at Heceta Head, 12 miles
north of Florence. The Heceta Lighthouse stands out as one of the
most-photographed lighthouses in the nation.
Spend some time in
Florence and the surrounding area and get to know some of its
living history. Explore the old buildings, streets, and docks. And
spend time in the antique shops, which offer local treasures from
times gone by. No matter what, any history lover or antique
collector will love the treasures and stories to be found in
of Commerce Visitor's Center
270 Hwy 101, Florence, Oregon 97439
(541) 997-3128 .......