Baker City is a latter-day bonanza of “Old West” history and scenery. Situated along the Oregon Trail, it is a testament to why the cross-country trek was worth the walk. The idyllically situated townsite lies in a broad valley near pine-shrouded mountains. A relatively mild four-season climate supports ranching, farming, and abundant year-round recreation.
Intrepid transcontinental pioneers between 1841 and 1869, lured by the beauty and the bounty of the promised land, walked right past the townsite on the Oregon Trail as they neared their intended destination in the Willamette Valley. In 1861, gold was discovered in a nearby gulch. Thanks to water for a millsite, Baker City became the queen of the mines, and diversified its economy with trade, lumber, and cattle. The town prospered through the 19th century in spite of major fires. But, by the 1970s, “modernization” attempts plastered over much original architecture, and genteel decay had set in.
Baker City once again embraces its historic past, and venerable buildings have regained their luster, many restored to their glory days. Renovation and enhancement of the Geiser Grand Hotel, the region’s most distinguished landmark, is the capstone. The town’s evolving role as a major travel destination is further enhanced by a bonanza of recreation opportunities in the mountains and lakes around town. Today, Baker City’s place on the Oregon Trail is celebrated by the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center–one of the most soul-stirring museums in America.For more information, go to Baker Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.
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