Excited by reports reaching Boston in 1850 of gold and new settlements in the West, a merchant named Gardiner outfitted a ship for trading along the Oregon Coast. A Capt. Coffin commanded the vessel, named the Bostonian, and Gardiner’s nephew, George Snelling, took charge of the expedition.
The ship went around Cape Horn without incident, but on Oct. 1, 1850, the Bostonian wrecked on the bar while attempting to enter the Umpqua River. Most of the cargo was salvaged and brought to the site known for years as “Gardiner’s City,” in honor of the uncle back in Boston. Later, “City” was dropped from the name. Gardiner became the headquarters of the Umpqua Customs District in 1851. A post office opened in Gardiner in June with Snelling as postmaster.
On July 26, 1880, a fire destroyed most of the community. The town rebuilt and from 1885 to 1916 Gardiner was one of the busiest towns on the Oregon Coast.
Located across the Umpqua River from Reedsport, Gardiner’s historic downtown has been listed since 1994 on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sources: Durbin, Georgina. The Umpqua Trapper. Fall Hunt ed. Vol. V. Roseburg, Oregon: Douglas County Historical Society, 1969. Print; Historical marker located along U.S. Hwy. 101 in Gardiner, Oregon. 2014. Web. 13 Dec. 2014, http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM158P