A September 2004 trip
to Baker City by Wildcat Dianne
Quote: On the way to the Igougo get-together in Vancouver, BC, I stopped in Baker City, Oregon, a small city in eastern Oregon that was once the social center of the Oregon Trail in the 19th century.
Baker City, Oregon, is located only 120 miles from my home in Meridian, Idaho. So, I decided to give myself a decent start on the first leg of my trip to Vancouver by stopping at this historical center of eastern Oregon.
Baker City earned its charter in 1870. By 1874, Baker City had established itself as the social center of the Oregon Trail and support center for the surrounding mining towns. Baker City once claimed to have the largest population in the Oregon, but today, it is a sleepy little town with a newly restored city center. Gone are the whorehouses, saloons, and colorful characters that made Baker City famous, but its charm and ambience still remains today.
Main Street is where all of the action is in Baker City and was the jumping off point for my walking tour of the town center. I stopped at the Chevron Station at the beginning of Main Street to do my business. After parking my car on the street, I started walking down Main Street, taking pictures and enjoying the sights. The main sights of Baker City that should not be missed are:
1. The Baker City Tower. It is the tallest building in Baker City and has recently been renovated.
2. The Geiser Hotel and Saloon dates from 1889 and is one of the most noticeable buildings in Baker City.
3. The Baker City Hall dates from 1873 and is still in use today.
It was cold and damp on my walking tour, and I had arrived there too early to see many of the sights, but I had fulfilled a wish to see Baker City and would return there again in the future.
I didn't make it to the Chinese Cemetery or the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center located outside of Baker City, but if you have time, these places are not to be missed. The Interpretive Center is a museum and historical center that is located east of Baker City on Highway 86. It costs to get in to see the exhibits. The Chinese Cemetery is located off of Atwood Lane, heading towards Highway 86, and it is free to enter. It is a wonderful place to learn about the Chinese miners who came to Oregon and Idaho to work as servants, laundry men, miners, and waiters in the 19th century.
Most of the historical sights and historical city center are located on Main and First Streets. Baker City is a well-signed place, and you will have no problems finding many of the sights. If you do have trouble, there is a Chevron station at the beginning of Main Street you can stop in to get directions and brochures. The man running the place was very nice to me and gives good directions.
I arrived at the Super 8 in Kennewick at 1pm pacific time. I was about an hour early before check-in time, and I thought I would check in and go browsing in the stores nearby until my room was ready. Upon entering the hotel lobby, I was greeted very nicely by the manager and a clerk. I told them I was early for check-in, but thought I could just browse while waiting for my room.
To my pleasure, the rooms on the third floor were ready, and I was quickly checked-in and allowed to go to my room and rest a little bit before going to the nearby mall that the manager highly recommended.
My room was spacious with a queen-sized bed and table and places to put my luggage. The bathroom and room were spotless and neat and there was full cable.
The mall was located about a half-mile from the hotel, and I walked over there to browze about. It was a nice, big mall, and I spent most of the time browzing through books at the Barnes and Noble located there. After being accosted by an obnoxious demo man hawking exfoliating cleaners for your face and hands, I decided to go and have an early dinner at the Applebee's located right next door to the hotel before going back to my room to watch the Red Sox game on ESPN.
To get to the Super 8, Kennewick, from I-82, take the Badger Street exit and go right onto Clearwater Boulevard. From there, turn left onto Deschutes Avenue and right onto Colorado. I highly recommend this Super 8 for its proximity to the highway and shops and for its staff's helpfulness and kindness. It only costs $39 per night and an extra $10 a night for each additional person. So, it doesn't hurt your wallet too much either.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 27, 2004
Super 8 Motel
660 Colorado Street
Baker City, Oregon
Attraction | "The Baker City Tower"
The Baker City Tower is the tallest building in town. It hosts many offices and businesses in the Baker City area. Like most of Baker City's sights and buildings, it went through a period of decay and depression. In 1977, an architecture student discovered this historical gem and worked to get Baker City preserved to its heyday. The Baker City Tower is still under a decades long renovation and reconstruction.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 27, 2004
Baker City Tower
1655 Main St.
Baker City, Oregon
Attraction | "Teddy Roosevelt Slept Here: The Geiser Hotel"
When I entered the hotel, I was politely greeted from the concierge desk by a young woman. I asked her if it was OK to browse around, and she said "yes." I didn't stay very long because this is still a place of business, and I didn't want to disturb anyone having breakfast in the restaurant in the main reception area.
The Geiser Hotel and Saloon was completed in 1889 and was the center of the Baker City social scene. Mining executives and politicians stayed or dined at the Geiser, and at the turn of the 20th Century, President Teddy Roosevelt dined and slept here. Most hotels and inns in the east say that George Washington slept there, but the Geiser can claim that "Old Rough and Ready" slept there.
After seeing the saloon and hotel at Silver City, Idaho, the interiors of the Geiser were a nice surprise, but not as mind blowing as the Idaho Hotel, but it was very nice with its well-preserved and polished mahogany interiors and furnishings. If you are interested in sleeping at the Geiser, it will run you from $89-120 US.
1996 Main St
Baker City, Oregon 97814
Attraction | "The Baker City Hall"
The Baker City Hall was completed in 1873 and was and still is the center of Baker City administrative and legal business. Built in the neo-Renaissance style of architecture, it has under gone numerous renovations to retain its glory from a bygone era.
As I got closer to the City Hall, a very nice man who worked for the city greeted my as I began to shoot some pictures. I told him I was from Idaho and interested in seeing Baker City and was surprised by the chilly weather. He said it was a relief from the heat of the summer and wished me a happy tour before leaving.
I went inside the City Hall but only ventured as far as the main entrance because this is a place of business and wanted to respect the wishes of the people who work there. The interior still looks like the days of miners and pioneers.
Baker City Hall is open daily from 8am-5pm.