Baker County, Oregon

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Baker County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is included in the 8 county definition of Eastern Oregon. It is named for Edward Dickinson Baker, a senator from Oregon who was killed at Ball's Bluff, a battle of the Civil War in Virginia in 1861. It was split from the eastern part of Wasco County. Union County and Malheur County were set off from Baker County in 1864 and 1887 respectively. In 2000, its population was 16,741. The largest city and seat is Baker City.

Contents

History

The first groups from the eastern U.S. following the Oregon Trail passed through the area on their way to the Willamette Valley, unaware of the potential wealth they passed over. At Flagstaff Hill, near Baker City, 15 miles (24 km) of wagon ruts left by immigrants can still be seen.

In 1861 gold was discovered and Baker County became one of the Northwest's largest gold producers.

On September 22 of the following year, the state assembly created Baker County from the eastern part of Wasco County. Later, Union County and Malheur County were created from this county. The boundaries were adjusted for the last time in 1901, when the area between the Powder River and the Wallowa Mountains was returned to Baker County.

The original county seat was at Auburn. While at first a booming mining town with 5,000 inhabitants, once the gold was mined out Auburn's population dwindled, and county citizens eventually voted in 1868 to make Baker City, incorporated in 1874, the new county seat.

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