Coos County

An Economic Boost for Coos Bay

For more than 100 years, generations of Oregon families have relied on Coos Bay’s maritime and rail commerce to make their living. Lottery dollars are helping renew the rail system in southern Oregon, creating jobs and sparking life back into this once-neglected resource.

Coos Bay Rail Line

Coos Bay Rail Line train trestle

Local Economies on the Brink

Back in the 1800s, logging trains along the Southern Oregon coast worked near remote forests, bringing logs into rivers and over to the harbor in Coos Bay. The trains also moved coal from local mines to sailing and steamer ships bound for San Francisco.  The Coos Bay Rail Line was built to span from Coquille to Eugene, delivering goods up and down the 134-mile stretch of track.

But as coal and timber dwindled, activity on the rail lines slowed and the Coos Bay Rail Line deteriorated. In 2007, the line was abandoned. The immediate impact on Southern Oregon counties was severe.

Community Renewal

So Oregonians in this area did what they do best: come together. The local community approached the Port of Coos Bay about buying and operating the rail line. The port agreed and with help from an Oregon Lottery funded grant, a series of nine tunnels along the tracks were repaired. The tunnels are vital to keeping the tracks open so the line could run trains once again.

Coos Bay Rail Line

A Vital Link Restored

Restoration of the tunnels are complete and trains from the Coos Bay Rail Line once again serve Coos, Douglas and Lane counties, boosting the economic success of the area. This vibrant and renewed rail supports 10 shippers and 1000 family wage jobs. But the ripple effect includes jobs for local vendors, contractors and companies from Oregon.

As Oregon’s economy grows, ebbs and changes – southwest Oregon’s regional prosperity continues to depend on the port and rail line. Lottery dollars are helping keep these jobs in rural Oregon and creating new opportunities in the national and international marketplace.

John Burns
Thanks to Connect Oregon and Oregon Lottery providing the funds, we have been able match the federal government’s grants. We’ve been able to conduct these major projects that otherwise would never have happened.
— John Burns, CEO, Oregon International Port of Coos Bay