Portland skyline

Coos Bay, Oregon

Coos Bay’s population is not large. But its 16,000 residents make it the largest town along Oregon’s Pacific coast. For more than half its existence, however, the city was known by a different name. Originally established as “Marshfield” (in honor of the Massachusetts hometown of city founder J.C. Tolman) when the first white settlers arrived in the 1850s, and incorporated under that name in 1874, the name was not changed until 1944.

Though it is a bit more than 200 miles from Portland, Coos Bay’s size relative to other area communities has long made it the commercial and transportation hub for much of coastal Oregon. This is a significant change from the city’s early generations. Prior to the completion of a railroad line to Portland during World War I the city was quite isolated. Crossing the mountains to reach Portland was so difficult that most travelers came and went by sea, and San Francisco was easier to reach than Portland. The railroad changed all that, and spurred decades of significant growth. From the 1930s through the 1950s shipyards turned out vessels for the US Navy and Coast Guard, and Coos Bay’s status as a seaside city with a rail link to the interior made it a major processing and shipping center for the timber industry.

Today, as a tourist destination, Coos Bay is particularly known for the access it provides to Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. This vast sea of sand dunes is visited by an estimated 1.5 million people per year, many of whom use ATVs to explore the region. It is, however, an unfortunate fact of life that recreational activities can lead to personal injury accidents. Product liability is often a problem with recreational gear and ATVs pose a number of unique safety issues.

According to data compiled by the federal government, between 1982 and 2010 there were 189 ATV-related deaths in Oregon, an average of 6.75 per year. Of those deaths 32 – more than 1-in-6 – were children under the age of 16.

Oregon has a number of laws and regulations pertaining to ATVs and their use that everyone, but parents especially, need to keep in mind:

  • All riders under 18 must wear a helmet with the chin strap fastened
  • ATV riders under 16 must be supervised by an adult when riding on public lands
  • ATV users under 16 are required to complete a state-approved training course
  • ATV operators younger than 12 need to be accompanied by an adult when crossing a highway

For more information see the state Parks and Recreation department’s ATV page (link below).

Portland-based Kaplan Law LLC offers a complete range of legal services pertaining to ATVs and other recreational vehicles from its office at 222 SW Columbia St in Portland’s KOIN Center. The legal needs of individuals and companies in communities like Coos Bay and its sister communities up and down the Oregon coast differ significantly from those of fellow Oregonians in other parts of the state. Kaplan Law’s expertise in personal injury law relating to injuries to children and traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries can be essential when tragedy strikes.

To reach Kaplan Law LLC’s office in downtown Portland at the KOIN Center, Suite #1111, 222 SW Columbia Street between SW 2nd and 3rd Avenues head north out of Coos Bay on US-101. When you reach Reedsport turn east on State route 38 and continue east until the road joins Interstate-5 near Pass Creek State Park. Take I-5 north toward Portland and join I-405 and US-26 West as you approach downtown. Once on the 405, take Exit 1B onto SW 4th Avenue and travel north for eight blocks. Turn right on SW Columbia Street to reach the KOIN Center. We are just south of the Hawthorne Bridge, only two blocks from the beautiful Columbia River and SW Naito Parkway. Call (503) 226-3844 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your personal situation.


Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation – ATV information page