History of the Port of Brookings-Harbor
Brookings Lumber & Box Company
In 1900, a Judge was reported to have operated a small water powered sawmill about 12 miles up the Chetco River. Though it was not a financial success, the industry was transferred to the Brookings Lumber and Box Company in the year of 1907 where John E. Brookings served as President. The town of Brookings was named after him in 1908.
Brookings Timber & Land Company
In 1912, the Brookings Lumber and Box Company started construction of the first railroad in Curry County, a lumber manufacturing plant, a deep-water harbor, and the town of Brookings. In 1913, the Brookings Timber and Land Company were organized to take over and operate all of the Oregon property owned by the Brookings Lumber and Box Company. Under this company, the harbor was developed and a 17-acre log pond was built and a large, all-electric direct-drive saw mill was erected.
California & Oregon Lumber Co. Formed
In 1915, the entire holdings of the Brookings Timber and Land Company were merged with a large block of redwood timber in Northern Del Norte County forming the California and Oregon Lumber Company. To serve the newly formed company, construction of a piling and timber wharf extending 1,200 feet into Chetco Cove, was commissioned. This wharf, carrying two tracks of the company-owned railroad, was completed in 1917.
Industry Shuts Down
There were many more changes to the Company, Port, and Township over the next five years. Ownership of the corporation and the railroad serving the Port, changed. The railroad and wharf were improved and extended shortly before the industry shut down in 1925. Only the land, the mill pond and the townsite of Brookings, the plat: ("A map of a town or a section of land that has been subdivided into lots showing the location and boundaries of individual parcels with the streets, alleys, EASEMENTS, and rights of use over the land of another.") of which was filed in 1920, would remain for many years to follow.
Oregon coast Highway Stimulates Popularity of Area
After the lumber company shut down and abandoned the railroad, there was a period of steady but slow improvement of the Oregon Coast Highway and an increase in popularity of the area for recreational uses.
Deep Water Harbor at Chetco Cove Discussed
For many years, there was talk of the development of a deep water harbor at Chetco Cove and of a "jetty-protected harbor" at the mouth of the Chetco River. In the early 1920's, a bill to construct a harbor was presented to Congress. Reviews of the area were made by the Corps of Engineers, but no official approval was given to construct either project.
Nationwide Publicity Due to Flower Bulb Industry
The area gained nationwide publicity in the 1940's because of the establishment of the flower bulb industry. Today, the seven farms in Brookings and Smith River (Del Norte County) provide the majority of the North America Market of Easter lily bulbs – distributed worldwide.
Rivers & Harbors Act
There was a gradual strengthening of old and new opinions concerning utilization of natural resources offered by the ocean and river. A previous study of a proposed improvement at the Chetco River had received the approval of the Corps of Engineers, but was not given the OK by congress. The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1945 authorized the improvement again, but this time no money was appropriated for construction.
Development of Chetco Project at Mouth of the Chetco River
In 1954, a committee of public-spirited citizens was formed to actively sponsor the development of the Chetco Project at the mouth of the Chetco River. The primary aim of this committee was to secure, from Congress, the money necessary to construct the project. The project, as approved by the Corps of Engineers, consisted of constructing jetties and dredging at the mouth of the Chetco River.
Senate Appropriation Committee
Amends Bill for Rivers and Harbors
Armed with approvals and recommendations from the governor and other Oregon officials, county courts, the chamber of commerce, service clubs and petitions from about 3,000 residents of this and other areas, along with assurances of local contributions of land, easements and rights-of-way for the project, two members of the committee went to Washington D.C. in early 1956. The matter was presented to the proper committees and the Senate Appropriation Committee agreed to offer an amendment to the bill for Rivers and Harbors and included an appropriation of $250,000 for work on the project.
The Corps of Engineers completed the project in 1957 and removed some rock pinnacles from the entrance channel in 1958 and 1959 at a reported total cost of $483,000.
Coast Guard Places Navigation Buoys to Mark the Channel
The U.S. Coast Guard has since placed navigation buoys to mark the channel, a whistle buoy outside the entrance, a concrete tower with a light to mark the entrance and steel towers on shore with range markers and lights to guide vessels through the entrance channel. At that time, the Coast Guard also had taken into consideration the establishment of a station with moorage near the entrance of the boat basin.
Port of Brookings, Port District Created
A special election in 1956 created the Port of Brookings, Port District, and Governor Elmo Smith appointed the first five Port commissioners. From 1957 through 1959, the issues at Board meetings were planning, financing, and acquisition of land. While these remained important concerns, a good start was made in the physical development and the Port was now operating.
First Boat Basin Constructed
In 1958, Brookings rancher Archie McVay received approval for construction of a small boat basin. The work was completed from private funds, and in 1959, the Port extended the boat basin upstream onto Port property that had been purchased earlier that year from Mr. McVay.
Lumber, Crab, Shrimp & Miscellaneous Fish - Abound
The first year's operation of the Port facilities ended in October 1960. Through December 1960, the privately owned wharves had handled 51 million board feet of lumber, 3.2 million pounds of crab, 171,705 pounds of shrimp, and 107,726 pounds of miscellaneous fish. Of these, 1.6 million pounds of the crab were brought in during the month of December alone.
Port Financially Solvent After Only One Year of Operation
In that first year, all spaces for moorage of commercial fishing boats and for small sport fishing and pleasure boats had been filled with an estimated receipt of $5,100, including launch fees. The Port was financially solvent after only one year of operation. The Port budget called for a total levy of $31,800. While that sum was far less than the amount needed to provide land and facilities in demand, the public didn't desire a tax increase unless it was agreed upon that the merits and the benefits would be solely derived from the operation of the Port.
Port of Brookings-Harbor Most Active Port on Oregon Coast
Today, the Port of Brookings-Harbor is one of the most active Ports on the Oregon Coast. In 2002, more than 95,000 anglers utilized the Port for recreational and commercial fishing.
Port Retail Center Adding More Commercial Space
The Port manages a 9,300-square-foot retail center, and added an additional 13,000 square feet of commercial space. It also leases commercial and retail space to 34 businesses.