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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, Oregon is located in Oregon
Baker City, Oregon
Baker City, Oregon
Location in Oregon
Baker City, Oregon is located in the United States
Baker City, Oregon
Baker City, Oregon
Location in the United States
Baker City, Oregon is located in North America
Baker City, Oregon
Baker City, Oregon
Location in North America
Country United States
State Oregon
County Baker
Platted 1865
Incorporated 1874
 • Total 7.16 sq mi (18.55 km2)
 • Land 7.16 sq mi (18.55 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
3,451 ft (1,052 m)
 • Total 10,099
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,369.59/sq mi (528.81/km2)
Time zone UTC−08:00 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−07:00 (Pacific)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 541
FIPS code 41-03650
GNIS feature ID 1167694
Website City Website
Coordinates are from the Geographic Names Information System.

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 10,099 at the time of the 2020 census.


Aerial view, about 1918

Platted in 1865, Baker City grew slowly in the beginning. A post office was established on March 27, 1866, but Baker City was not incorporated until 1874. Even so, it supplanted Auburn as the county seat in 1868. The city 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.

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. In 1911 the city dropped "City" from its name, but restored it in 1989.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Baker was established on June 19, 1903, after which the Cathedral of Saint Francis de Sales was built in Baker City. 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. The path of totality of the upcoming solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 includes Baker City as well.


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

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 cold semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk). July and August are generally the hottest months, when the high temperatures average 84.5 °F (29.2 °C). The highest recorded temperature, 106 °F (41 °C), occurred on August 4, 1961. December and January are usually the coldest months, when lows average 17 °F (−8 °C). In December 1978, the temperature fell to −39 °F (−39 °C), the lowest recorded in the city. May is typically the month of highest precipitation, averaging 1.48 inches (38 mm). Snowfall averages about 25 inches (64 cm) a year.

Climate data for Baker City, Oregon
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 59
Average high °F (°C) 34.4
Average low °F (°C) 17.0
Record low °F (°C) −30
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.91
Average snowfall inches (cm) 6.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 11.7 9.4 9.7 9.3 10.0 7.9 4.9 5.0 4.8 5.8 11.3 11.0 100.8
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 inch) 8.2 5.6 4.1 2.2 0.4 0 0 0 0 0.4 4.8 8.2 33.9
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 312
1880 1,258 303.2%
1890 2,604 107.0%
1900 6,663 155.9%
1910 6,742 1.2%
1920 7,729 14.6%
1930 7,858 1.7%
1940 9,342 18.9%
1950 9,471 1.4%
1960 9,986 5.4%
1970 9,354 −6.3%
1980 9,471 1.3%
1990 9,140 −3.5%
2000 9,860 7.9%
2010 9,828 −0.3%
2020 10,099 2.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

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 culture

Annual events

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. 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.

Museums and other points of interest

Baker City Hall
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.

Baker City Tower, a nine-story structure in the historic district, is the tallest building east of the Cascade Range in Oregon. Opening in 1929 as the Baker Community Hotel, it was converted to other uses after financial setbacks during the Great Depression. 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.

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.

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. Enjoy exhibits interpreting the rich history of the region including mining, ranching, timber, early Baker City life, Chinese culture, and wildlife. Make sure to stop by the Adler House Museum, the home of Leo Adler is now the Baker Heritage Museum's largest artifact. Learn the amazing 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. Established in 1992, the site is managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management and Trail Tenders, a group of volunteers.

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

Sports and recreation

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

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.


45th parallel sign - Baker City, Oregon
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.

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. Greyhound Lines offers long-distance bus service via a depot in the city. 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. The UP provides freight service but not passenger service to Baker City. 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.

Sister cities

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

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See also

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