North Bend is a city in Coos County, Oregon, United States with a population of 9,695 as of the 2010 census.〔("Incorporated Cities: North Bend" ). Oregon Blue Book (website). Accessed May 2010.〕 North Bend is surrounded on three sides by Coos Bay, an S-shaped water inlet and estuary where the Coos River enters Coos Bay and borders the city of Coos Bay to the south. North Bend became an incorporated city in 1903.〔
Before Europeans visited the Oregon coast, Native American tribes claimed the Coos Bay region as their homeland for thousands of years.〔("Bay Area History" ). (Oregon Bay Area Chamber of Commerce ). Accessed September 2010.〕 Members of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, Siuslaw and Coquille tribes lived, fished, hunted and gathered along Coos Bay and its estuaries, along rivers, and in meadows and forests.〔
Approximately 400 years ago, British and Spanish explorers first approached the South Coast.〔 In 1579 Sir Francis Drake is purported to have sought shelter for his ship, the ''Golden Hinde'', around Cape Arago.〔("History of Coos Bay" ). City of Coos Bay. Accessed September 2010.〕 Trader and explorer Jedediah Smith was in the region seeking furs and the Hudson's Bay Company sent Alexander McLeod to search for an inland passage.〔
The 1852 stranding of the schooner ''Captain Lincoln'' on the North Spit and the survivors' encampment and rescue brought attention to gold prospectors who came to mine placer from area beaches.〔 In 1853 The Coos Bay Commercial Company arrived from the Rogue Valley and created routes for settlers.〔
Empire City was established and was the county seat of government until 1896.〔 Entrepreneurs were drawn to the area's ample natural resources, and sawmills and shipyards at Old Town North Bend and Empire City spurred economic development and attracted workers.〔 Rivers and sloughs provided a means to transport people, forest, agricultural and coal products, and towns provided hubs for inland transportation.〔 Some of the early industries in the area included timber harvesting, shipbuilding, farming, coal mining and salmon canning.〔
Prior to around 1915, The Coos region was largely isolated from the rest of Oregon due to difficulties in crossing the Coast Range and fording rivers, and the Pacific Ocean was used to link people to other areas, including San Francisco, which was an easier two-day trip compared to traveling inland over rugged terrain.〔 In 1916 trains were established that linked the region to other interior settlements and towns, which increased commercial trade and tourism〔
Significant urban growth occurred in the 1920s, and during the 1930s to 1950s large-scale growth occurred.〔 Per the Oregon Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, during the 1930s to 1950s:
During the interregnum of despair between Franklin Roosevelt's election and his inauguration, the only bank in North Bend, the First National, was forced to temporarily close its doors, precipitating a cash-flow crisis for the City of North Bend. The city solved this problem by minting currency using myrtlewood discs printed on a newspaper press. These coins, in denominations from 25 cents to $10, were used to make payroll and the city promised to redeem them for cash as soon as it became available.
However, when the bank reopened and the city appealed for people to bring their myrtlewood money in to redeem it, many opted to keep their tokens as collector's items. After several appeals, the city gave up and announced that the tokens would remain legal tender in the city of North Bend in perpetuity. Until the 1960s, people occasionally did cash in their tokens, but the remaining pieces have become very valuable through scarcity and historical interest. Fewer than 10 full sets are believed to exist.
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