Facts and History

County Seat: 1995 3rd St. Baker City, OR 97814
Phone: (541)523-8200
Fax: (541)523-8340
Established: September 22, 1862

Elevation: 3443'
Latitude: 44.820112
Longitude: -117.752996
Population: 16,082
Land Area (square miles): 3,068.12
Average Temperatures: January 34 degrees, July 85 degrees
Annual Precipitation: 10.63''

Assessed Value:$1,059,354,869
Real Market Value: $1,354,508,658

Economy: Agriculture, forest products, manufacturing and recreation

Interesting Facts of Baker County

The first mineable mineral was discovered October 23, 1861, by Henry Griffin. That material was a gold nugget and the place was alter named "Griffin Gulch" in honor of the discoverer.
In the early spring of 1926 a young man named Lloyd Carter who was working on a highway crew from Haines, saw "smoke" smoke rising from a nearby field. Investigating he found two ill-fated sanitoriums. On July 4, 1926, the geothermally heated pool officially became a popular recreation area, with camping facilities available for some time.

Facts and History

General Information

Baker County's first school was formed in 1865 and held in the kitchen of a local house.
In the early 1970's, the Crossroads Creative and Permoring Arts Center was created when The American Association of University Woman outgrew the small art group's capacity because it became so successful.
One night in the year 1862, the miners on Rock Creek and vicinity were awakend by a terrible rumbeling sound. Thinking it was an earthquake they returned to bed, but upon rising the next morning they discovered the peak of Hunt Mountain had slid into Rock Creek. This is known as the Rock Creek Slide. The massive scar is still visible today.

A major boost for Baker City's fortunes occured on August 19,1884, when the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company arrived in Baker City. The railroad joined the Union Pacific at Huntington, giving Baker City direct Rail service to the East and West.

The cannon presently in the east lawn of the county courthouse courtyard was believed to be from the Imperial Japanese Army. After a Halloween prank in which the cannon was used to fire buckets of nails, chains and other assorted metel junk into the roof of a nearby church, county authorities sealed the barrell and firing pin to prevent future use of the cannon.

The Powder Basin compromises more than 2 million acres, including almost all of Baker County and a small part of Union County.

Baker County retains memories of the Chinese who were active here in the gold mining days. The Chinese Association headquarters remained in Baker City until the early 1950's.

At the turn of the century, Baker City was known as the "Queen City of the Inland Emplire", and boasted a population of approximately 6700, larger than Spokane or Boise City at the time.

Courtesy of The History of Baker County Published by Baker County Historical Society

Facts and History

Census Information

See Also: 2020 Census

Demographics Baker County
Population Estimates,July 1, 2019 16,124
Population change, April 2010 to July 1, 2019 0%
Persons under 5 years old 2019 5.1%
Persons under 18 years old 2019 19.8%
Persons 65 years and over 2019 26.5%
Female persons 2019 49.0%
White persons 2019 93.7%
Black persons 2019 0.7%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons 2019 1.6%
Asian persons 2019 0.9%
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander 2019 .1%
Persons reporting two or more races 2019 3.0%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin 2019 4.7%
White persons not hispanic 89.7%
Households with a computer 2014-2018 85.7%
Households with broadband internet 2014-2018 72.2%
High School graduate or higher 2014-2018 89.6
Bachelor's degree or higer 2014-2018 22.3%
Median household income, 2014-2018 $43,921
Per Capita income 2014-2018 $26,152
Persons below poverty level 15.4%

Business Summary Baker County
Total employer establishments, 2018 522
Total employment, 2018 4340
Total annual payroll, 2018($1,000) 155,055
Total employment, percent change, 2017-2018 9.0%
Total number of firms 2012 1748
Men-owned firms, 2012 1748
Women-owned firms, 2012 1748
Minority-owned firms, 2012 78
Geography Baker County
Population per square mile, 2010 5.3
Land area in square miles, 2010 3,068.36
FIPS Code 41001

Courtesy of the US Census Bureau

Facts and History

Col. Edward Baker

Col. Baker

Col. Edward Baker
Edward Dickinson Baker "The Old Grey Eagle"

Soldier, Senator, Orator, Patriot and Statesman

Born in London, England, February 24, 1811, Edward Dickinson Baker was the son of Mary Dickinson Baker And her husband, a school teacher, Edward Baker. The family emigrated to the United States in 1816, initially settling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, then moving to New Harmony, Indiana in 1825. A year later the family moved again, settling in Belleville, St. Clair County, Illinois.

With some formal education and military training in England at his father's school and exhibiting much native intelligence, young Baker later embarked on a course of self-education through varied, extensive reading, much as the young Abraham Lincoln. No doubt, his father encouraged him in this effort, and suggested readings which would and did produce the best mind possible, as borne out in later years.

Edward tried a brief, unsuccessful apprenticeship in weaving, and later drove dray in St. Louis. The Baker family, again seeking new territory, once more resettled, this time in Carrollton, Greene County, Illinois.

Young "Ned", as he was called by his father, at 16 years of age entered the study of law at the urging of Moses C. Bledsoe, an attorney and mentor, and the most influential man in Carrollton. He provided Baker with books for his studies and persuaded him to read law in the office of Judge A. W. Caverly, the leading attorney of the town. He passed his law examination in 1830, but didn't immediately enter practice. At the age of 19, he was too young to qualify for the state bar in Illinois.

On the 27th of April the following year, Baker married Mary Ann Lee, the widow of a former employer, who was left with two children, Frank and Maria. They had four children of their own: Edward, Jr., Alfred, Caroline and Lucy. Edward Dickinson Baker, Jr. served in the U.S. Army and was discharged with the rank of Major, and Alfred served as an Army surgeon in the Medical Corps. Mary survived Edward's untimely death by ten years, passing away in 1871.

In 1832, Baker enlisted as a private soldier during the Blackhawk Indian War, and due to military training in his early schooling, rapidly rose in the ranks and was discharged as a Major at the end of the conflict.

After the war, Baker settled his family in Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois where he finally began his practice of law. During this period he was associated with such notables as Abraham Lincoln, Lyman A. Trumbell, Stephen A. Douglas and other rising young jurists.

Baker and his associates participated in many spirited debates and discussions at Joshua Speed's Shop in Springfield developing their oratorical styles, rhetorical prowess and the abilities which would serve them well in future legal and political endeavors.

It was during this time when Lincoln and Baker became close personal friends, a relationship which would continue until Baker's death. At times political rivals, Baker defeated Lincoln in a race for the 29th Congress in 1844. Ned and Abe maintained a friendship which transcended a usual lack of trusted confidants of great men. This was perhaps due to both of these men, with their common educational background, recognizing that "quality of greatness" in each other, and, although occasionally rivals as well as associates, saw no conflict in holding differing views. Lincoln named one of his sons, Edward Baker Lincoln, after his close friend.

After variously serving from 1837 to 1846, in the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate and the 29th U.S. Congress, Baker resigned his seat in Congress and accepted a commission as Colonel of the Fourth Regiment of The Illinois Volunteers which he helped raise for the Mexican-American War. He distinguished himself in several campaigns, being wounded once. Taking charge of the brigade when his commanding officer, General Shields was wounded, he lead a successful charge and captured the enemy position at the battle of Cerro Gordo.

At the end of the war, Baker once again returned to Illinois, moving his family, and resuming his practice of law in the town of Galena, Jodaviess County. He was elected to the 31st Congress, serving from December 3, 1849, to March, 1851, but did not run for re-election.

A man of striking demeanor, Baker stood 5' 10" tall, weighing 190 pounds, with silver-grey hair, a prominent nose and keen blue eyes. His oratorical abilities flowed with the help of a commanding voice and a sharp intellect honed in the courts and the chambers of state and national government.

His first speech made in Congress in 1846, was in support of U.S. claims to the occupation of the Oregon Territory, going against his own Whig Party's opposition to the notion. Baker went so far as to advocate armed enforcement of the American claim to the northwest territory. Arbitration between the U.S. and Britain, however, settled the matter diplomatically.

Later, illness suffered while working on the Panama railway forced Baker to seek a cooler climate and in 1852, he moved the family to San Francisco. His facility with the law and oratory earned him his nickname "The Old Grey Eagle" during this time.

Together with Lincoln, Baker was one of the founders of, and, thereafter, politically ran under the banner of the Republican Party.

His strong beliefs against vigilante justice and pro-abolitionist view were responsible for his defeat in the Congressional race of 1859.

A duel involving a conflict over the slavery question between California's U.S. Senator, David C. Broderick and Broderick's former friend, California Supreme Court Chief Justice David S. Terry, prompted an oratorical tirade delivered by Baker over his friend Broderick's dead body, and resulted in the outlawing of the "code duello" for dispute settlement in the United States, as well as solidifying the people of California against slavery.

Baker's oratory prowess prompted representatives from the new government in Oregon to seek him out in California and petition him to return and run for the U.S. Senate from their new state. He accepted, and after a vigorous campaign on issues vital to Oregon and both northern and southern factions in the new state, Republican Baker was elected by the state legislature to serve commencing in March 1859. The second Senator elected was Douglas Democrat, James Nesmith, which balanced the slate.

Returning to a 100 gun salute in San Francisco, Baker tarried only long enough to make a few speeches in favor of the Union position concerning the fermenting problems brewing in the east and south, and prompting many to feel California's support of the Union was due, primarily to him.

Baker's credentials were presented to the Senate on December 5, 1860, and he presented the credentials of his fellow Oregonian James W. Nesmith to the Senate February 18, 1861.

Continued friction between north and south on the slavery question prompted Baker to journey to Pennsylvania, and organize a regiment referred to as the "California Regiment," later called the 71st Pennsylvania Regiment. Lincoln offered Baker a commission as Brigadier General, but he declined, choosing to serve at his former top rank of Colonel in order to retain his seat in the Senate.

Baker's refusal of a higher commission was not only to save his Senate seat, but to set at ease those Union Generals who were suspicious of his relationship with Lincoln. He delivered his last and most important speech to the U.S. Senate in his blue uniform and fatigue cap, in vigorous defense of the Union. Southern Senators were outraged as Baker verbally tore their arguments to shreds and all but accused them of outright treason.

Three months after his momentous speech in the Senate, then acting Brigadier General Baker, assigned to General Charles P. Stone, was given orders to cross the Potomac at Edward's Ferry with two thousand men and attack Confederate forces to drive them back. This would give Union troops access and allow a flanking attack to defeat the Confederates. Since not all troops were able to cross simultaneously, a reduced force of just over 1,700 men was able to charge up the steep river bank toward the higher ground of Ball's Bluff into withering fire from an estimated 4,000 southern troops. Confederate sharpshooters, equipped with rapid-firing, Hall breech loading rifles, captured from the Harper's Ferry Arsenal, quickly cut down the inexperienced, attacking Union forces.

Three Union artillery pieces, a James rifled cannon and two mountain howitzers, were successfully brought across the river, disassembled and hauled up to the battleground on the bluff. There, they were reassembled and used to best advantage. The crew of one piece was decimated by rifle fire from the Confederates but was re-manned and continued to support the attacking Union forces.

At 5:00 o'clock, with a promised reinforcement's failure to appear, and vastly outnumbered, a charge mounted by the southern troops caught Colonel Edward Dickinson Baker, leading his men to meet it, and he fell dead with eight Confederate bullets in him.

In a brave, concerted effort, troopers under the command of Captain Louis Beiral withstood the enemy's charge to capture the colonel's body or his sword. He and his troopers recovered Baker's body themselves, and, with over half of the attacking Union forces dead, wounded or captured, retreated to the Potomac. To keep the artillery pieces from falling into the hands of the enemy, Union troops hauled them down from the bluff and threw them into the river.

General Stone was blamed for the defeat at Ball's Bluff due to inadequate intelligence, insufficient battle preparation, poorly trained troops, and failure to reinforce Colonel Baker in this most crushing defeat for the Union Army. Imprisoned for incompetence, he was later released, without trial, and restored to rank.

In the smallest United States National Military Cemetery at Ball's Bluff, Virginia, behind a rock wall, buried in a circle, are the remains of Colonel Baker's fallen troops. Outside the wall and remote from his men's graves, a lone headstone commemorates the death of Colonel Edward Dickinson Baker. Colonel Baker's body was embalmed and, as per his wish, sent to San Francisco for burial.

Killed in action at the Battle of Ball's Bluff, Virginia, October 21, 1861, Colonel Edward Dickinson Baker was buried December 11, 1861, at Lone Fir Cemetery, San Francisco, California. His remains were re-interred, May 21, 1940, with those of his wife Mary Ann, and son, Major Edward D. Baker, Jr., at the National Military Cemetery, The Presidio, San Francisco, California.