Baker City, Oregon

Baker City is a city in and the county seat of Baker County, Oregon, United States. It was named after Edward D. Baker, the only U.S. Senator ever killed in military combat. The population was 9,828 at the time of the 2010 census.

Baker City, Oregon
Main Street
Main Street
"On the Historic Oregon Trail."
Location in Oregon
Location in Oregon
Baker City along I-84 in Oregon, surrounded by sections of Wallowa–Whitman National Forest.
Baker City along I-84 in Oregon, surrounded by sections of Wallowa–Whitman National Forest.
Baker City is located in Oregon
Baker City
Baker City
Location in Oregon
Baker City is located in the United States
Baker City
Baker City
Baker City (the United States)
Baker City is located in North America
Baker City
Baker City
Baker City (North America)
Coordinates: 44°46′30″N 117°50′04″W / 44.77500°N 117.83444°W / 44.77500; -117.83444Coordinates: 44°46′30″N 117°50′04″W / 44.77500°N 117.83444°W / 44.77500; -117.83444
CountryUnited States
 • MayorKerry McQuisten
 • Total7.16 sq mi (18.55 km2)
 • Land7.16 sq mi (18.55 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
3,451 ft (1,052 m)
 • Total9,828
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,369.59/sq mi (528.81/km2)
Time zoneUTC−08:00 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−07:00 (Pacific)
ZIP Code
Area code(s)541
FIPS code41-03650
GNIS feature ID1167694 [5]
WebsiteCity Website
Coordinates are from the Geographic Names Information System.[5]


Aerial view, about 1929

Platted in 1865,[1] Baker City grew slowly in the beginning.[6] A post office was established on March 27, 1866, but Baker City was not incorporated until 1874.[1] Even so, it supplanted Auburn as the county seat in 1868.[7] The city[1] and county were named in honor of U.S. Senator Edward D. Baker, the only sitting senator to be killed in a military engagement. He died in 1861 while leading a charge of 1,700 Union Army soldiers up a ridge at Ball's Bluff, Virginia, during the American Civil War.[8][9]

The Oregon Short Line Railroad came to Baker City in 1884, prompting growth; by 1900 it was the largest city between Salt Lake City and Portland and a trading center for a broad region.[1] In 1910, Baker City residents voted to shorten the name of the city to simply Baker, the name change becoming official in 1911; Another vote in 1989 restored the name to Baker City.[10]

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Baker was established on June 19, 1903, after which the Saint Francis de Sales Cathedral was built in Baker City.[11] In 1918, Baker was the subject of national interest when the 1918 solar eclipse took place and the U.S. Naval Observatory based its observations there.[12] The path of totality of the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 included Baker City as well.[13]

One of its former councilors Adam Nilsson who also served for the Baker City Public Arts Commission[14] was charged with criminal mischief for graffiti on August 1, 2017 while holding office. The officer made connections through the tag "Provolotus" which has been found in graffiti complaints as well as on Nilsson's Instagram profile.[15][16] The graffiti was on a Baker County owned property when Nilsson and his friend Ashley E. Schroder were cited.[14] On November 20, 2017 Nilsson pled guilty to one count of criminal mischief in the third degree and was sentenced to one year bench probation and was ordered to pay $150 in fines and perform fifty hours of community service.[17] Nilsson, who has pled guilty to spray painting graffiti at the Lime plant contends his constitutional rights were violated and has filed a $1.3 million lawsuit against Baker County and the county sheriff in August 2019. In this lawsuit, Nilsson wrote that he was negotiating with the artist, whose moniker is "Thrashbird" to obtain art as "public art" for Baker City.[14]


Baker City's city council consists of seven councilors who are elected by the residents of the city. The councilors select one of their members to serve as mayor for a two-year term.[18]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total land area of 7.16 square miles (18.54 km2).[19]

The city is situated in a valley between the Wallowa Mountains to the east and the Elkhorn Mountains, part of the Blue Mountains to the west, with the Powder River running through the center of downtown on its way to the Snake River.


Baker City has a cool semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk), with a large diurnal temperature variation most of the year, peaking at 39.3 °F (21.8 °C) in August. July is generally the warmest month, with a normal mean temperature of 65.1 °F (18.4 °C).[20] The highest recorded temperature, 109 °F (43 °C), occurred on August 10, 2018.[21][20] December is the coldest month, with a normal mean temperature of 24.8 °F (−4.0 °C).[20] On December 23, 1983, the temperature fell to −34 °F (−37 °C), the lowest recorded in the city.[20] May is typically the month of highest precipitation, averaging 1.48 inches (38 mm).[20] Snowfall averages about 25 inches (64 cm) a year.[22]

Climate data for Baker City Municipal Airport, Oregon (1981–2010 normals,[a] extremes 1928–present[b])
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 61
Mean maximum °F (°C) 47.0
Average high °F (°C) 33.8
Average low °F (°C) 16.3
Mean minimum °F (°C) −2.2
Record low °F (°C) −30
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.80
Average snowfall inches (cm) 7.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 11.4 8.6 10.1 9.7 10.4 8.5 4.6 4.3 4.3 6.3 11.1 11.5 100.8
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 7.8 5.7 3.5 2.3 0.3 0 0 0 0 0.4 5.0 8.4 33.4
Source: NOAA[20][23]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)9,809[4]−0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[25]

2010 censusEdit

As of the census of 2010, there were 9,828 people, 4,212 households, and 2,529 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,372.1 people per square mile (529.8/km2). There were 4,653 housing units at an average density of 674.3 per square mile (259.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.57% White, 1.12% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.44% African American, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.97% from other races, and 2.35% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.52% of the population.

There were 4,212 households, of which 24.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.1.2% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.0% were non-families. 33.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.85. In the city, the population was 23.7% under the age of 19, 5.0% from 20 to 24, 23.0% from 25 to 44, 27.8% from 45 to 64, and 20.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.6 males. In 2005, the median income for a household in the city was $29,020, and the median income for a family was $34,790. Males had a median income of $26,638 versus $20,313 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,179. About 10.7% of families and 16.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.1% of those under age 18 and 14.9% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and cultureEdit

Annual eventsEdit

Baker City hosts many annual festivals, including the Miners' Jubilee on the third weekend of July, which celebrates the mining history of the area and the filming of the 1969 Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood musical comedy Paint Your Wagon in the city.[26] The Miners' Jubilee was originally launched in 1934 as the Baker Mining Jubilee, but lapsed after 1941 because of World War II and a declining interest in mining. The event was revived by Richard and Marge Haynes in 1975. The couple organized the celebration for two years before handing it over to the Baker County Chamber of Commerce.[27]

Museums and other points of interestEdit

Baker City Hall

The Baker Historic District, on the National Register of Historic Places, is located on about 42 acres (17 ha) centered on Main Street in downtown Baker City. Within its boundaries are more than 130 properties, about half of which include structures built between the late 1880s and about 1915. Many of these as well as others built as early as 1870 are two-story masonry commercial buildings. The city hall, county courthouse, the former post office, former library, former social clubs, a Roman Catholic cathedral, and an Episcopal Church are among notable buildings within the district.[28]

Baker City Tower, a nine-story structure in the historic district, is the tallest building east of the Cascade Range in Oregon.[29] Opening in 1929 as the Baker Community Hotel, it was converted to other uses in 1970.[30] The concrete Art Deco structure features terracotta eagles at each ground-floor entrance and is topped by an octagonal observation center with an eight-sided hip roof and a flagpole.[29]

Also in the historic district is the Geiser Grand Hotel, a three-story, stucco-clad, brick structure that at the time of its opening in 1889 had plate glass windows, electric lights, baths, an elevator, and a dining room that seated 200. Originally called the Washauer Hotel, it became the Geiser Grand in about 1895 after its purchase by the John Geiser family, which had large mining investments in Baker County and elsewhere.[31]

Baker Heritage Museum, previously the Oregon Trail Regional Museum, is housed in the Natatorium built in 1920 on Grove street across from the city park. The exhibits interpret the history of the region including mining, ranching, timber, early Baker City life, Chinese culture, and wildlife. The Adler House Museum, the former home of Leo Adler is now the Baker Heritage Museum's largest artifact. Learn the story of Leo Adler, Baker City philanthropist who donated millions to the people of Baker County in his will. The Adler house has been restored to his original splendor with original furnishings and interiors.

The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, about 5 miles (8.0 km) east of the city, offers exhibits, theater performances, workshops, and other events and activities related to the Oregon Trail, the ruts of which pass through the center's 500-acre (200 ha) site.[32] Established in 1992,[1] the site is managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management and Trail Tenders, a group of volunteers.[32]

Other points of interest in Baker City include the Crossroads Art Center, in a former Carnegie library;[33] the downtown U.S. Bank, featuring a gold display that includes the Armstrong Nugget, weighing 80.4 ounces (2.28 kg);[34] the Eltrym, Baker City's only movie theater, housed in a single-story structure built in the late 1940s.[35]

Sports and recreationEdit

The Baker City Cycling Classic is a set of bicycle races held in Baker City and the surrounding region.[36] Similar bicycle races, the Elkhorn Classic, were based in Baker City through 2011.[37] The city hosts the Oregon School Activities Association Class 1A girls and boys basketball tournaments at Baker High School in March.[38] The Oregon East−West Shrine Game (high school football) is held here in July.[39] The Hell's Canyon Motorcycle Rally is also held in Baker City, in July.[40]

Sections of the Wallowa–Whitman National Forest are to the west and to the northeast of Baker City, which serves as the forest headquarters. Possible forest activities include hiking, biking, winter sports, fishing, hunting, mineral prospecting, camping, wildlife viewing, and other forms of recreation.[41]


The 45th Parallel sign near Baker City, on Interstate 84

Interstate 84 (I-84) runs along the eastern edge of Baker City, while U.S. Route 30 passes through its downtown. Oregon Route 7 runs between I-84 in Baker City and Sumpter and Austin to the west. Oregon Route 86 heads north and east past the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center and on to the cities of Richland and Halfway.[42]

The city owns and operates the 398-acre (161 ha) Baker City Municipal Airport, located about 3 miles (5 km) north of downtown in rural Baker County.[43] Greyhound Lines offers long-distance bus service via a depot in the city.[44] Northeast Oregon Public Transit provides hourly trolley service around Baker City, as well as twice daily bus service to La Grande, on weekdays.

Baker City is served by the Union Pacific Railroad (UP), originally the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company (OR&N). In 1887, the UP acquired a long-term lease on the OR&N, which connected to existing UP track and the Oregon Short Line at Huntington.[45] The UP provides freight service but not passenger service to Baker City.[44] Between 1977 and 1997 the city was a regular stop along the former route of Amtrak's Pioneer between Chicago, Salt Lake City, Boise, Portland, and Seattle.[46]

Schools and librariesEdit

Baker City is served by Baker School District 5J. It includes Baker High School, Baker Middle School, Brooklyn Primary, and South Baker Intermediate as well as Keating Elementary and Haines Elementary in rural Baker County. Serving about 1,800 students, 5J is the largest of three school districts in Baker County.[47]

Baker Middle School was designed by Ellis F. Lawrence and completed in 1917. It is constructed from local tuff and is a stripped classical style. As of 2011 the building was unoccupied and was on the Most Endangered Places in Oregon list of the Historic Preservation League of Oregon.[48]

The main branch of the Baker County Library system is in downtown Baker City. The other branches are in Haines, Huntington, Halfway, Richland, and Sumpter.[49]


Baker City has one newspaper: the Baker City Herald, published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.[50] It has five radio stations: KBKR AM 1490;[51] KKBC FM 95.3;[52] KWRL FM 102.3;[53] KCMB FM 104.7;[54] and KANL FM 90.7[55]


KATU ABC Portland, Oregon

  • K44AJ Channel 44 Baker City

KOIN CBS Portland, Oregon

  • K42AI Channel 42 Baker City

KTVB NBC Boise, Idaho

  • K46AM Channel 46 Baker City

KTVB NBC Boise, Idaho

  • K18KI Channel 18 Baker Valley

KGW NBC Portland, Oregon

KPTV FOX Portland, Oregon

  • K40AJ-D Channel 40 Baker City

KTVR PBS Lagrande, Oregon

  • K20IV Channel 20 Baker City

Sister citiesEdit

In 1996, Baker City established a sister city relationship with Zeya, Russia. In that same year, Baker School District 5J agreed to support development of a student exchange program between the two communities.[56]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Incorporated Cites: Baker City". Oregon Blue Book. Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  3. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
  4. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Baker City". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 1980-11-28. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  6. ^ Bailey, Barbara Ruth (1982). Main Street: Northeastern Oregon. Oregon Historical Society. pp. 20, 45. ISBN 0-87595-073-6.
  7. ^ Writers' Program of the Works Projects Administration. "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon: Ontario to Baker". Oregon State Archives. Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved 2012-03-19.
  8. ^ "October 21, 1861: Senator Killed in Battle". U.S. Senate. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  9. ^ "Historic Baker City, Baker County, Oregon". Oregon Genealogy. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  10. ^ McArthur, Lewis A.; Lewis L. McArthur (2003) [1928]. Oregon Geographic Names (7th ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society Press. p. 45. ISBN 0-87595-277-1.
  11. ^ In 1952, the name was changed to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baker.
  12. ^ "NASA - Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 Aug 21". NASA. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
  13. ^ a b c Jacoby, Jayson (September 13, 2019). "Former Baker City Councilor sues county, sheriff". Baker City Herald. Archived from the original on December 22, 2019. Retrieved 2019-12-22.
  14. ^ "Councilor's legal trouble". The Baker City Herald. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  15. ^ "Police seize paint, phone from Nilsson". The Baker City Herald. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  16. ^ "My Eastern Oregon". Elkhorn Media Group. November 21, 2017. BAKER CITY: Adam Nilsson sentenced for trespassing and graffiti at the lime plant in Baker County Press release from the Baker County District Attorney's Office On November 20, 2017 Adam Nilsson (dob 4/13/1971) of 307 Hillcrest Dr. Baker City, Oregon pled guilty to one count of Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree. As part of a plea agreement with the Baker County District Attorney's Office one count of Criminal Trespass while in Possession of a Firearm was dismissed. Nilsson was sentenced to one- year bench probation. He was ordered to pay a $150 fine and complete 50 hours of community service.
  17. ^ "City Council | Baker City, OR". Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  18. ^ "Quickfacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2015-09-16.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". NOAA. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
  20. ^ "Baker City Municipal, OR History | Weather". Weather Underground ( Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  21. ^ Taylor, George H.; Hannan, Chris (1999). The Climate of Oregon: From Rain Forest to Desert. Corvallis, Oregon: Oregon State University Press. p. 113. ISBN 0-87071-468-6.
  22. ^ "Station Name: OR BAKER CITY AP". National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
  23. ^ Moffat, Riley. Population History of Western U.S. Cities & Towns, 1850–1990. Lanham: Scarecrow, 1996.
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  26. ^ Collins, Chris (2001). "Celebrate 20 Years of Re-Jubilation". Baker City Herald. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
  27. ^ Van Duyn, James N. (1978). "Baker Historic District". National Park Service. p. 1. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
  28. ^ a b Van Duyn, James N. (1978). "Baker Historic District". National Park Service. p. 59. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
  29. ^ "Remodeled Landmark At Baker Does Brisk Business As Hotel". Corvallis Gazette-Times. Corvallis, Oregon. Dec 21, 1970. p. 36. Retrieved December 16, 2018 – via  
  30. ^ Van Duyn, James N. (1978). "Baker Historic District". National Park Service. p. 10. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  31. ^ a b "National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center" (PDF). Bureau of Land Management. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
  32. ^ "About Crossroads". Crossroads Art Center. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
  33. ^ Richard, Terry (2009-08-01). "Don't Ask to Hold the Gold Nugget at Baker City". The Oregonian. Oregon Live LLC. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
  34. ^ "Baker Heritage Museum". Oregon Museums Association. Archived from the original on 2012-06-21. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  35. ^ "Baker City Cycling Classic". Baker City Cycling Classic. Retrieved 2012-03-20.
  36. ^ "Elkhorn Classic". Oregon Bicycle Racing Association. 2011-06-19. Retrieved 2012-03-20.
  37. ^ "2012 1A Basketball State Championships" (PDF). Oregon School Activities Association. 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-20.
  38. ^ "Shrine Game Caps High School Careers". Albany Herald-Democrat. 2011-07-31. Retrieved 2012-03-20.
  39. ^ "Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally". Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally. Retrieved 2012-03-20.
  40. ^ "Wallowa−Whitman National Forest: Recreation". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved 2012-03-20.
  41. ^ The Road Atlas (Map). Rand McNally & Company. 2008. pp. 84−85. ISBN 978-0-528-93961-7.
  42. ^ "Airport". City of Baker City. Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  43. ^ a b "Our Community". Baker County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. 2011. Archived from the original on 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2012-03-19.
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  45. ^ Amtrak (2009). "Pioneer Route Passenger Rail Study" (PDF). National Railroad Passenger Corporation. Retrieved 2012-03-19.
  46. ^ "Welcome to Baker School District". Baker School District. Retrieved 2012-03-19.
  47. ^ "Most Endangered Places 2011 - Baker City Middle School". Historic Preservation League of Oregon. 2011. Archived from the original on 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  48. ^ "Branches". Baker County Library. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
  49. ^ "Baker City Herald". Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. Archived from the original on 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  50. ^ "KBKR-AM 1490 kHz: Baker, Oregon". Theodric Technologies. 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  51. ^ "KKBC-FM 95.3 MHz: Baker, Oregon". Theodric Technologies. 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  52. ^ "KWRL-FM 99.9 MHz: La Grande, Oregon". Theodric Technologies. 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  53. ^ "KCMB-FM 104.7 MHz: Baker City". Theodric Technologies. 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-19.
  54. ^ "American Family Radio Station Guide" (PDF). American Family Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-07. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  55. ^ "Sister City". City of Baker City. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  1. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  2. ^ Snowfall measurements have been discontinued at Baker City Airport since September 2001.[20]

External linksEdit