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Within the life time of children who are just fairly beginning to read and write with facility, there has sprung up from all experimental mining camp of it few hundred inhabitants, an up-to-date and rapidly upbuilding city of 7,000 people, named like the county, of which it is the natural and geographical center, in honor of one of the world’s most truly great men, Col. E. D. Baker.
Baker City is not only the business and social center of the county, but is the center to which people flock, on trading or pleasure errands from hundreds of miles in almost every direction. Many of the business blocks of brick or stone cost from $15,000 to $50,000, and the Hotel Warshauer, the leading one of the 15 hotels, Is a modern three-story brick, costing $70,000. During the past year there have been erected over 200 business structures, elegant residences and cottages at au outlay of $50,000, unit the call for more room continues in spite of the utmost energy of every available bricklayer, mechanic and workman. and the sound of the trowel, saw and hammer, echoes steadily in every section of the city.
The broad streets of the city are lined with many handsome shade trees, and the schools, churches and residences would be creditable in a place of 25,000 people.
The city has electric, gas and water plaints. The newly built power house of the electric company, in South Baker is of practically 500-horse power and can supply lighting juice amply sufficient for a city of many times the size of this. The 2-mile street car system, many cabs, hacks, baggage and express wagons sad the numerous pedestrians on the leading streets, aid greatly in indicating that Baker City is not operated on the plan of a country town, but is In fact a metropolitan center. The main public school building is a substantial and elegant three-story brick, costing $35,000. There are 1,100 pupils enrolled in the public schools which are efficiently directed by Prof. Churchill, aided by a talented corps of sixteen able teachers. St. Francis Academy, for young ladies and girls, has 125 pupils enrolled and the school building costing $20,000 is one of the ornaments of the city. St. Eilzabeth’s Hospital, a modernly constructed and equipped three-story structure, can accommodate upwards of 50 patients arid has an experienced corps of nurses (Sisters of St. Francis) and au able staff of physicians.
Powder river, a swift mountain stream, flows through the city, and is spanned by five bridges.
Nearly every leading denomination has a good church building, the brick edifice of the First Methodist church costing $8000, and comfortably seating 700 people. Among other houses of worship are St. Francis’ (Catholic); St. Stephen’s (Episcopal); Presbyterian, Baptist, Christian and Adventist The various fraternal and benevolent orders nave many handsome lodge rooms, and the brotherhoods are in excellent financial and social’ working shape.
The city’s water system is an excellent one, the supply being from an artesian well, and it is probable the fluid supply of the system will be doubled in amount In the near future by piping water from mountain streams lying westward of the city about 9 miles. The fire department of six volunteer companies is well organized and has a record for the best volunteer ones in the West. The city has fine telegraphic service, a good local and long distance telephone system, and messenger boys are within call day or night.
Besides the Morning Democrat and the Weekly Bedrock Democrat, the former having been publishes 11 years, and the latter 28 years, there are one daily and two weekly newspapers.
The cash resources of the First National Bank of Baker City closely approach $750,000, and dozens of mercantile and other establishments each carry stocks of goods worth from several thousand up to $60,000. The yearly payroll in the mines alone is about 750,000 and the greater portion of this is spent in and about the city.
In Baker City are found blended to a useful degree the energy and conservatism of the pioneer and the culture and refinement of the Easterner. Yet the entire community of 7000 souls is leavened with fast open-handed hospitality so apparent in every up-to-date and thrifty city in the great and growing West. The city is beautifully laid out, on a very even and gently sloping surface. The beauty of nature as seen in the surrounding rugged, forest-clad mountains, with hoary granite peaks reared heavenward, lisp sentinels of the gods, and the lower plains and valleys begemmed with the emerald of foliage and meadow land, forms an ever new and changing panorama like that which certainly inspired the ancient Greeks to vigor of mind and body, and to labor of priceless value to nations then unborn.
A pleasing feature in this metropolis amid the great golden mountains of Eastern Oregon is the unusually large number of handsome residences and cottages. Home edifices, constructed In the best of modern taste of stone, brick and wood are seen by the hundreds in every ward and section, costing from $2500 to $10,000 each, have spacious surroundings of lawns, flowers and shade trees and many of the more modest cottages have yards made beautiful by loving labor.
Baker City has a Chinese quarter in which about 400 people of the flowery kingdom “live, move and have their being,” with stores, restaurants, temple of worship, etc., like unto the surroundings of their heathen brethren in the celestial empire. These Chinese are singularly free from “ways that are dark and tricks that are vain,” fund their leading merchants and business men are considered to be of the strictest honesty and integrity. These Mongolians own and operate a considerable number of gold mines in many districts tributary to Baker City, and the Chinese quarter here is the Mecca to which come the little brown men delving In the various camps in the mineral belts.
The Baker City Commercial Club Is an organization of live business men which s doing a vast deal of good in the upbuilding of the city and county.
Among the many industries worthy of note are the Baker City Iron Works. French & McLynn, proprietors, which manufactures yearly thousands of dollars worth of mining and other machinery; the Baker City Sampling and Reduction Works, ably managed by Kadish & French; two modern steam laundries employing 25 operatives: three cigar factories operated by experienced men; and numerous other enterprises-assaying establishments, candy factories, excellent bakeries and dye works.
Powder river, Rock and fine creeks, and other streams near this city, would supply power sufficient for the location here of a second Lowell. Enterprises which would pay especially well on the investment, would be a roller flouring mill, there not being a mill of this kind In the county, and a woolen factory which would have within easily available reach the clip of wool from 150,000 sheep.
This is a great “show” and amusement town, and a well equipped opera house would receive generous support. It is not unusual to have on the same evening a well attended ball, and crowds of hundreds at a play and some large religious meeting. In amusement lines, bicycling, bowling and out door sports have numerous devotees, and a well kept race course near the city limits, periodically attracts enthusiastic admirers of swift running and trotting horses.
Much of the trade in the city’s stores is of the wholesale type, and almost daily miners, stock raisers and ranchers’ throng the principal establishments laying in long lists of supplies and outfits, the country merchant dickering for goods and add to his depleted stock.
The metropolitan system of department or special class stores generally prevails in this city, and it is surprising to the average visitor to find so many establishments each devoted to dry goods, commission and storage, hardware, jewelry, hooks and stationery, musical goons, bicycles, trusts sun produce, men’s and ladies’ wear, and so on.
The hotels and restaurants call into use railway service to provide “everything the market affords,” from other states and lands. Not only the hostelries but the private homes here are very generally provided with most of the conveniences found only In much older and more populous cities.