Named in honor of U.S. Senator Edward D. Baker, the only sitting senator to be killed in a military engagement, wagon trains streamed through Baker County on their way to the lush Willamette Valley, unaware to the buried wealth beneath their feet. In 1861 gold was discovered and Baker County became one of the largest gold producers in the Northwest.
Numerous communities sprung up in the hunt for gold. Sumpter, Bourne, Auburn, Greenhorn, Cornucopia and Sparta all boasted large mines. Today only Sumpter survives as an incorporated town. As the gold played out, logging, farming and industry replaced it. Situated on the Powder River and the main rail line, Baker City became the largest town in the county.
Baker City is now a thriving secret nestled in the Elkhorn Mountains. A steady stream of visitors come for the unique adventures of the nearby ghost towns, Anthony Lakes Ski Area, the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area, the Hells Canyon Recreation Area, and the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. They stroll through the historic business district that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The charming district is full of galleries, shops, amazing cuisine as well as award winning beer and spirits.