Discovering Florence’s Pioneers and Sea Lions

The city of Florence is a nice little port town with a rich history of pioneering families. Long before the city was formed the river was there, the Siuslaw River (Si-u-slaw) was used by Native Americans and later for traders for transportation long before there was roads and even trails. At what is now the city of Florence the river empties into the Pacific Ocean. The community does not date back that far, only dating back to the late 1800s. In 1828 a Hudson Bay trapper wrote in his diary “he had been where no white man had been before”, doing trading with native Indians on the North Fork of the Siuslaw River. When the area was open for homesteading in 1876 there were some trails but no roads. The coastline and the river were the main means of transportation bringing settlers to the area. People came to log, fish, farm and Homestead the land around the Siuslaw River. The city of Florence was incorporated in 1893. At the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum, they have a huge selection of artifacts, photos and other memorabilia of this time of Florence’s history.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe museum is housed in the Old Florence School building. This non-for profit Museum is funded through donations, memberships and can be toured for a mere four dollars and is well worth it. The idea is to preserve the rich pioneer history of the area. It is located in what is called Old Town Florence down near the piers on the Siuslaw River. This part of Florence is full of great restaurants and quaint little shops of all types and several parks.20170528_13024420170528_130251The museum is home to two stories of all kinds of pioneer artifacts. They haven’t divided up into sections of all the different types of trade in the area back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I will show just a little of what it has to offer in these photos. Here is a section with some logging equipment.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOther sections are home to farming elements with lots of old photos and household items.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd there’s quite a bit of it dedicated to homesteading and family life in the area.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are several displays acknowledging the fishing industry along the coast and the river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s a display with some whale spine bones.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey also have Native American woven baskets and other tools used in the early days.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey have a very large selection of old photos dating back to the late 1800s.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome of the ones I found the most interesting, were of Heceta Head Lighthouse when it was built in 1894 and there are very few trees growing in the area.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen the land was acquired for the lighthouse it was originally a sheep ranch and the sheep kept the vegetation from growing. In this photo you see the original Assistant Lightkeeper’s House through a rock formation called the eye of the needle which has long since collapsed.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA With the arrival of electricity and the completion of the Highway 101 Bridge across the river in 1936 the community has never looked back. Here’s a photo of the drawbridge that crosses the river allowing the taller ships up the river from the Pacific Ocean.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s the old original telephone switchboard use from the early 1940s till 1960 when rotary dial phones came into play.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother thing I checked out on my day trip to Florence, was there famous brightly colored fiberglass stellar sea lions. These started out as a creative way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Florence Events Center, which houses an Art Gallery, Community Meeting Center and State Of The Art Theater. The theme is called Dancing with Sea Lions.20170601_153314Originally 20 of these were commissioned and painted by local artists. And they were on display throughout the city. Since then nine of them have been moved, other communities and private individuals have taken ownership of some of them. But 11 are still around the community of Florence and I tracked them all down. I took photos of them all and each one is unique and quite beautifully decorated, so I hope you enjoy them all like I did. The first two I came across, were at the Sea Lion Caves from my previous post. This one with the beautiful mermaid stands outside next to main entrance.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd this one you had to go inside the cave to get a glimpse of, it has a Mosaic Bird on its back.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis one with a beautiful Sun was outside the Chamber of Commerce office.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis Pirate one, was in a little park down by the docs in Old Town.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd down by the river with the 101 bridge in the background this guy with a Bright Orange Octopus.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis guy is located out front of the library and has all kinds of sea and forest critters.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA20170601_155815

And out in front of Banner Bank this one looks like a Circus Horse with the saddle a little cap.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the lobby of the Three Rivers Casino this one has uniquely carved wooden sea lions attached to it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd out front of the Oregon Pacific Bank hails this brightly colored blue and green with cartoon type drawings on it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn front of the Florence Events Center a very fitting Sea Lion with dancing Ballerinas and a dancing Renaissance Lady.20170601_15334020170601_153324And in my opinion the best for last in front of the hospital this guy adorned with beautiful lighthouses.20170601_15500120170601_15501220170601_154948

That’s it for this post I hope you enjoyed the tour of a little of Florence.  Thanks for following along, Rick




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