The name "Oregon" comes from a mistake. The name was first used by French Canadian explorers who mispronounced the word "Ouragan" which means "hurricane" in French. They used it to describe the powerful Columbia River, and the name stuck.
Baker County, located in Eastern Oregon, has a rich and colorful history dating back thousands of years. The area was traditionally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Shoshone, Nez Perce, and Bannock tribes, who lived off the land through hunting, gathering, and fishing. The arrival of European settlers in the 19th century had a profound impact on the region.

During the mid-1800s, Baker County saw a surge of prospectors during the Oregon gold rush. Miners flocked to the area in search of wealth, leading to the establishment of several mining towns such as Auburn, Sumpter, and Baker City. These towns became centers of economic activity, with thriving businesses, saloons, and schools. Notable mines in the area included the Virtue Mine and the famous Sumpter Valley Dredge.

The region's boom continued with the arrival of the Oregon Short Line Railroad in the late 19th century. The railroad connected Baker County to the rest of the state, facilitating the transportation of goods and people, and spurring further development. Baker City became an important transportation hub and a trade center for the surrounding agricultural communities.

In the 20th century, Baker County experienced economic challenges as the mines and timber industries declined. However, the county's rich history and natural beauty have contributed to a growing tourism industry. Today, visitors can explore the remnants of mining operations, enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing, and immerse themselves in the area's fascinating heritage.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Baker County, Oregon.

  • 1862: Baker County is established on September 22.
  • 1864: The county seat is moved from Auburn to Baker City.
  • 1889: The Oregon Short Line Railroad arrives in Baker City.
  • 1898: The Baker County Courthouse is built.
  • 1914: Eastern Oregon Normal School, now known as Eastern Oregon University, is founded in La Grande.
  • 1939: The Sumpter Valley Railroad ceases operation.
  • 1970: The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center opens near Baker City.