Transportation has always been a hardship for coastal residents and businesses. In 1871 Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was built to aid commercial shipping. It was replaced three years later by Yaquina Head Lighthouse. A railroad was completed at the end of 1884 and came from as far as a newly created town, Yaquina City, on the bay east of Newport.
The county’s logging industry got a boost in 1917 when the Army built the infrastructure, including roads and railroad lines, for a milling operation to produce lightweight wood for airplane construction during WWI.
The Roosevelt Military Highway was built in the 1920s. Federal money partially funded the road after World War I. The case was made that evacuation of residents and movement of military equipment would be difficult on the existing road system. The Salmon River Highway opened Saturday, July 19, 1930. The 22-mile cutoff leaves the Portland-Tillamook highway at Valley Junction, passes through Grand Ronde and Rose Lodge, and terminates at Otis. The road follows old Indian routes to the coast, the same ones white settlers followed as the easiest route through the mountains.
Bridges were critical to land travel. The Depoe Bay Bridge was completed in 1926. A drawbridge across the Siletz River was completed in 1926. This bridge was replaced in 1974 with a modern bridge 800 feet downriver. Until 1936, when the Yaquina and Alsea Bay bridges were completed, vehicles could not travel the coastline without ferrying across bays or moving onto the beach.