About the Museum
The Coos County Fairgrounds Museum in Myrtle Point, Oregon is a "display museum" where exhibits come from individuals, service organizations, schools, libraries, businesses and virtually every museum within Coos County. Some exhibits are a sampling of the established and treasured collections of well known regional institutions, such as "Scenes from the South Coast", fine art and photography from the permanent collection of the Coos Art Museum. Other exhibits follow a theme and story with support items from dozens of participants. The museum is located on the top floor of the old Commercial Building at the Coos County Fairgrounds in Myrtle Point, Oregon.
One popular theme depicts schools, not just the buildings, but the students, teachers, athletes and boosters, from the 1850s into the 1930s. Of special interest is school work from 1905 Marshfield (Coos Bay) pupils from the collection of the Coos Historical and Maritime Museum. It was part of Coos County's participation in the 1905 Centennial Celebration of the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon. The photographic portion of this exhibit exceeds 1,000 images, from the collections of the Coos Historical and Maritime Museum, with more coming in almost every day.
For 2007 an additional cooperative display used early Sanborn maps to show the location and use of buildings in Coquille and Myrtle Point at ten to fifteen year intervals from the 1891 and forward. Period photographs, drawings, paintings and stories were tied to the maps. The whole exhibit was concurrently displayed in the museum and on the Coquille Valley heritage web site. Please with ideas and materials for this display, especially with stories and photographs of homes, businesses, farms, ranches, factories, vehicles, roads, parks, churches, rivers and boats and especially of the people who made and used them.
The Fairgrounds Museum evolved out of a community spirited effort when the Coos County Logging Museum agreed to take custody of a model of the Gardiner Large Log Mill from the Umpqua Discovery Center in Reedsport near the mouth of the Umpqua River. Needing a large room to house the 30 foot long model, representatives from the Logging Museum approached the Fair Board and the concept of the Fairgrounds Museum was born. In only a few short months, the upstairs of the old Commercial Building was cleaned, painted and upgraded with plans becoming action to have a display ready for the 2005 Coos County Fair.
The original and continuing mission is to provide display space to tell the story of the large Log Mill operating in Gardiner, Oregon as recently as 1989. Once upon a time trees were felled, cut down where nature put them. Now they are planted, nurtured, harvested, transported, milled, and transported and processed some more to support an admirable portion of life as we know it: newspapers and buildings, picture frames and Myrtlewood bowls, pencils and computer printouts, wood products are everywhere. It is a worthy, engaging, complex, and sometimes inspiring tale of strong, industrious, clever, creative and admirable people.
All area museums and many, many individuals participate in the broad reach of the Fairgrounds Museum by providing displays which show building the Coos community from abundant natural resources to support a diverse and evolving culture. Logging is featured, also mining, fishing, agriculture, ranching, manufacturing and businesses, to show how they support, family, school, church, recreation and the arts.
The Fairgrounds museum finished its third summer season (2007) with over 5,000 people passing through the huge barn style doors making this attraction one of the most popular on Oregon's the south coast. The museum opens Sundays, from June until Labor Day, from 1:00pm until 4:00pm. During the off season the museum opens by appointment, by announcement, by individual request, in support of local education and in order to work to build the exhibits for 2011 or to work on the model railroad and layout.
Participants and displays in the Fairgrounds Museum come from a wider area than the current boundaries of Coos County, Oregon. An 1898 map of the Pacific Ocean (in the US government publication called "Our Island Possessions") shows Tokyo on Japan to the far west and to the far east on North America, Empire City, the only named town along the west coast of Oregon. By that time, to be sure, the region was well populated. It was "on the world map" because the Coos region supplied their global clients with some of the best lumber available, including Port Orford Cedar, Douglas Fir and even the curious Oregon Myrtle and some of the best fresh fish, vegetables, and even tobacco and beef. The ships that carried the lumber were made locally and did not return empty, but with exotic plantings and decor, food and drink, art and artifacts. One of the many local treasures that remains from this era is Shoreacres, an exotic garden featuring flora from many of these places in the world, the original caretaker's cottage built in the 1890's and new buildings made of Coos county lumber.
Look at the 1895 map above and note the western bulge on the lower left. That westerly point is Cape Blanco. North, south and inland to the mountain crests is Coos Territory, whose history and heritage finds celebration in the Fairgrounds Museum. It ranges from the Wild Rogue Wilderness and Siskiyou forests in the south, stretches north past the Port Orford and Sixes River, across the Elk River and Flores Creek to the extensive and fertile inland valleys of the Coquille River, then further north to the Coos Bay, overlapping and sharing life with friends in Reedsport and Gardiner on the Umpqua River.
If you are interested in providing material for display in the museum or in helping with building restoration or just dropping by and chatting a bit, please contact Steve Means, the museum director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (541) 260-1457.
The Coos County Fairgrounds has three nicely renovated and maintained buildings which are used throughout the year for events ranging from weddings to conferences. The Fairgrounds Museum Building is next in line for improvements to make it a year round facility. Any and all help and support is welcome.
To get to the Fairgrounds Museum take Oregon Highway 42 to Myrtle Point. At either stop light go west to Fourth Street and then south to the fairgrounds entrance. Go right around the first building and enter either up the steps or from the ground level porch on the east end.
Coos County Fair
770 4th Street
Myrtle Point, OR 97458
PO Box 332
Myrtle Point, OR 97458
Steve Means, 541.260-1457 (cell)
One until Four (or later) Sundays from June to Labor Day
Ten until Ten Daily during the Coos County Fair
and By request and for special events throughout the year
Free or with fair admission during the Coos County Fair.
Director - Steve Means
Assistant Director - Robyn Greenlund
Museum Partners for 2007: