Pursuant to an act of the legislature in 1874 the people of Baker City proceeded to form a city government, by electing the officers required by the terms of the charter.
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The trustees were S. B. McCord, J. A. Reid, S. Grier, J. H. Parker and G. J. Bowman.
The first meeting of the board was held at the Court House, November 25, 1874, at which Bowman was elected president.
The minutes of the meeting were signed by R. H. Cardwell, recorder.
At a meeting of the board November 28, Wm. M. Constable was elected city marshal.
On December 2, James H. Shinn was elected city attorney.
At a meeting on the 9th of December, ten ordinances were submitted to the board by the city attorney and adopted.
George Wisdom was elected night watchman with a salary of seventy dollars per month.
December 30, W. J. Eastabrook was declared elected recorder in place of Cardwell, resigned.
March 3, 1875, E. W. Reynolds was elected recorder in place of Eastabrook, resigned.
At a special election March 18, J. M. Shepherd was elected recorder.
July 31, 1875, a fire engine for the use of the city was purchased for $700.
At the regular city election November 4, 1875, Bowman, Eppinger, Alfred, Weller and John Bowen were elected trustees. H. C. Durkee, recorder; George Wisdom, marshal and R. Alexander, treasurer.
November 6, 1876, Foster, Weller, Heilner, Hulsey and Parker were elected trustees, Thomas Britten, marshal; Durkee, recorder and G. H. Tracy, treasurer.
November 5, 1877, Weller, Alfred Umberger, Bowen and Bowman were elected trustees, Tracy, treasurer; Phil Hardisty, marshal and Gray, recorder.
The records were not at hand to continue a connected account of city affairs. The next after November 5, 1877, on file in the auditor’s office in regard to city officers is the following:
November 11, 1885, new board of trustees met, present: Heilner, James, Geiser, Gardner and Tracy; Heilner chosen president.
Smith, marshal; Wulff, treasurer; Van Slyck, recorder; Hyde, city attorney; Alfred, street commissioner.
November, 1886, the following officers were elected:
Weller, Weber, Kellogg, Tracy, Kastner, trustees; Van Slyck, recorder; Kimberly, marshal; Janney, treasurer; Moeller, street commissioner.
In 1887, under the new charter the officers elected and appointed were:
McCord, mayor; Moulton, Carter, Palmer, Campbell, Kelly, councilmen; Donnelly, auditor; Travillion, chief of police; Hyde, city attorney; Foster, city surveyor; and Moeller, street commissioner.
In 1887, D. M. Kelly and G. B. Moulton were appointed a water committee with instructions to report the most feasible method of supplying the city with water. March 14, 1888, the committee reported progress and the sum of $100 was appropriated to be used in their discretion in the development of certain springs on Washington gulch. The city subsequently purchased certain ditches and water rights of Adams on Washington gulch, for $820.
At a meeting of the council May 23, 1888, the water committee submitted an estimate of the probable cost of bringing water to the city and it was ordered that an election be held the 6th day of June for the purpose of voting upon the question of bonding the city to the amount of $20,000. June 6, 250 votes were cast, 219 in favor of bonding the city and 37 against the measure.
August 8, 1888, the council passed an ordinance granting L. L. Bromwell an exclusive franchise for the purpose of erecting and controlling gas works, electric light plants or other artificial light for the purpose of supplying the city and people artificial light for the period of fifteen years.
Also the right of way for the construction of a telephone system was granted to Robert L. Nolf and Harry Bowers.
September 12, the water committee was instructed to sink a well on the city property east of the brewery.
March 14, 1888, council accepted proposition of Levens to donate block 37, Levens addition for a city park.
November 1888, McCord was elected mayor, Campbell, Kelly, Smith, Perkins and Clarke councilmen.
Officers appointed were Foster, surveyor; Moeller street superintendent; Travillion, chief of police, Hyde, city attorney; and Packwood, auditor.
At a special election held June 24, 1889, the sum of $8920.50 was ordered paid to the owners of condemned property on the line of Center Street.
October 24, right of way was granted for a street railway.
November 1889, the following named persons were elected:
Mayor, McCord; councilmen, Clarke, Ernst, Perkins, Green, Place, Houston, Campbell and Shinn; treasurer, Abbott. Appointed officers: Packwood, auditor; Moeller, street superintendent; Hyde, city attorney; Reynolds, water superintendent; Foster, city surveyor; Harper, chief of police.
The great increase in the amount of city business incident to the improvements of streets and establishing a water system in the year 1889, made a more elaborate system of bookkeeping necessary, and Auditor Packwood introduced a set of books in which each item of city finance is entered in its proper place, and in such a way that its whole history can be easily traced from the time the matter is first acted upon by the council until finally settled. The amount of revenue obtained from any particular source can readily be ascertained from the books, as also the expense of each department for any given time.
From November 10, 1888, until November 10, 1889, Auditor Packwood drew orders to the amount of $51,740.63.
November 1890, the officers elected were as follows:
McCord, mayor; Clarke, Donnelly, Green, Miller, Place, Palmer Campbell and Thompson councilmen; Murphy, treasurer.
The officers appointed were Smith, chief of police; Packwood auditor; Hyde, city attorney; Reynolds, water superintendent; Wolff, street superintendent; Foster, surveyor.
November 1891, the officers elected were as follows:
Johns, mayor; Clarke, Miller, Faull, McMurren, Parker, Geddes, Boreman and Levens councilmen; Murphy treasurer.
The appointed officers were Baisley, chief of police; Packwood auditor; Hyde, city attorney; Wolff, street commissioner; Foster, surveyor; Reynolds, water supt.
Ex-Mayor McCord in his address to the incoming council, said:
Our city water system is now on a paying basis. We have good wells, reservoir, pumps, boiler and appliances; also about 7½ miles of water mains and 71 fire hydrants.”
November 1892, the officers elected were: Johns, mayor; Clarke, Geddes, Boreman, McMurren, Cook, Baird, Castle and Hinshaw councilmen; Murphy, treasurer.
Officers appointed: McGuire, chief of police; Packwood, auditor; Parker, water superintendent; Rand, city attorney; Foster, surveyor.
Vacancies occurred in different offices at various times by the death or resignation of the persons elected, and in such cases their” places were filled by the appointment of persons whose names do not appear in the reports of the elections.
At the election in June 1868, the candidates on the democratic ticket for county offices, were all elected, and Baker City received a majority of the votes in the county for the county seat and the result was so declared, but in the act providing for such vote to be taken there was nothing said about the manner in which the change should be made in case the people declared for Baker City. Men who owned property at Auburn wished of course to have that town remain the county seat, and it was not clearly perceived in what manner the office should be removed. A. F. Johnson who was then county judge, issued an order to the county clerk, Joseph H. Shinn, to bring all the county records to Baker City. Some citizens of Baker went to Auburn with a wagon and team and very early in the morning everything belonging to the county offices was loaded into the wagon and on the way to their destination before the people of Auburn know what was going on.
The first settlers in the town of Baker regarded tree planting and gardening as an experiment of which there was little hope of successful results. There were some failures, particularly in the matter of starting grass in door yards, but success was attained by repeated experiments.
John Brattain was one of the pioneers in that line, and one of the first to achieve success by making the peculiarities of the soil and climate a study and adapting his method of cultivation to the necessities of the case. He says it was the great interest which he took in matters affecting the credit of the city that led him to call the attention of the council to the condition of Mr. Hindman’s potato patch on a certain occasion, stating that it was too badly gone to weeds to be allowed to remain on one of the principal streets, and asked that an ordinance be passed requiring Mr. Hindman to remove it to one of the back streets.
Mr. Brattain says the council took the same view of the case and were about to pass such an ordinance when he proposed to them to postpone action until the next meeting, and he would try to prevail upon Mr. Hindman to make his potato patch look sufficiently respectable to be allowed to remain.
He says he was so far successful in his endeavor that he was able to report to the council at the next meeting that Hindman had destroyed so many of the weeds that further compulsory measures were unnecessary.
Baker County, as established at the session of the legislature, September 1862, extended from the territory of Washington, on the north to the state of Nevada on the south, and from Snake River on the east to the Blue Mountains on the west.
Union County was organized in 1864, with main Powder River and the north fork of same for the boundary line between the two counties.
February 17th, 1887, by an act of the legislature Malheur County was organized comprising all the territory of Baker County south of the Burnt river mountains.
The boundaries of Baker County at this time are as follows:
Commencing at the intersection of Powder River with Snake River; thence up the main channel of said Powder River to the intersection of North Powder River with said main Powder River to the mouth of Anthony fork of said North Powder River; thence up the main channel of said Anthony fork of North Powder River to the largest lake near the source of Anthony fork, which lake is used as a reservoir for the Camp Carson mines; thence due west to the chain of mountains known as the Blue Mountains, that separate the waters of Powder River and Burnt River on the east, from the waters of John Day River on the west; thence southerly along the chain of mountains between the waters of said Powder River and Burnt River on the west to a point where The Dalles Military road crosses the summit of said Blue Mountains; thence due east to where the range line between ranges 36 and 37 east of the Willamette meridian is intersected; thence easterly along the summit of Burnt River mountains to the intersection of the south boundary line of township 14, south of range 43 east; thence east on the south boundary line of township 14 to the middle channel of Snake River to the mouth of Powder River to the place of beginning.
The extreme length of Baker County east and west is about 65 miles, and from north to south about 50 miles, containing about 1,380,000 acres, of which about 280,000 would be classed as agricultural land, and about 820,000 as grazing land, and about 280,000 as mountain forest.
The summit of some of the mountain peaks in the northwestern part of the county are about 8400 feet above sea level and about 5000 feet above the level of Powder River Valley.
As yet but a comparatively small portion of the agricultural land is cultivated. Most of it needs to be irrigated in order to make it productive, and there has never been any extensive system of irrigation inaugurated.
To what extent agriculture will extend in the future over what is now called grazing land, time alone can tell.
Farming and fruit growing are now carried on successfully, where it once thought that the land was not adapted to such purposes.
The country on lower Burnt River and on Snake River has been called the fruit belt. Apples, pears, peaches and all small fruits grown to perfection but as yet only a very small part of the land suitable for horticultural purposes has been improved.
Some land which was once thought to be most worthless in Powder River Valley has been converted into the best meadow land, the farms of R. D. McCord and James Garren, west of Baker City, being samples of what can be done by cultivating and irrigating sage-brush and grease-wood land.
In 1884 the Oregon Short Line railroad was built through Baker County, and two new towns were built on the line of the road. Huntington in the southeast corner of the county is next to Baker City in business importance, being the supply point for an extensive tract of country and the shipping point for a wide extent of cattle range. The original town site was a part of the claim taken by Henry Miller in August 1862.
Mr. Miller came to Auburn from Salt Lake with goods in the summer of that year, and after selling his goods, returned down Burnt River and took a claim which was known far and near as Miller’s ranch. It was an important stage station down to the time the railroad was built, and a very popular hotel for teamsters and travelers.
In 1867 he sold his claim to G. W. Davis, and in turn sold to some one else, and in 1882 Huntington bought the place and the next year engaged in the mercantile business, and a small town sprung up. When the railroad was built in 1884, the present town was laid off nearer the road than the old town retaining the name of Huntington.
There are seven large brick business buildings in the town, and a two-story brick schoolhouse in process of construction, the building alone costing $7,500.
The First Congregational church is a substantial and commodious house of worship, well finished and furnished.
The business of the town is represented by three general merchandise stores, one drug and one grocery and variety store, three hotels, three livery stables and one blacksmith shop.
From Huntington stages run daily to the town of Mineral in Idaho and tri-weekly to Burns and Malheur in Harney and Malheur counties.
The business of the town extends through out Malheur and Harney counties and a part of Baker and a portion of Idaho, one firm selling 52½ carloads of merchandise in the year 1892.
The Oregon Short Line Railroad Co., building from the Union Pacific railroad westward, and the Oregon Railway & Navigation Co., building from the Columbia River eastward, formed a junction of the two roads at Huntington in 1884. For some years the two companies could not agree on freight rates and all freight had to be transferred, but the matter was finally adjusted and through rates agreed upon.
In 1890 the two companies leased their roads to the U. P. Co., and since that time they have been under one management. The monthly pay roll of the company at Huntington amounts to $5,000.00.
The fruit belt of country tributary to Huntington extends fifty mikes down Snake river and twenty miles up Burnt river, and eastward into Idaho and southward into Malheur County. The fruit grown throughout that belt is acknowledged to be of superior quality. In the year 1892, 14,000 boxes of fruit of different kinds were shipped to eastern markets, besides supplying the home demand, and yet it is estimated that one half of the crop was not saved.
An extensive canning establishment at Huntington is needed to enable fruit-growers to utilize the entire product of their farms.
At the Oregon Marble and Lime Company’s works four miles west of Huntington a superior quality of lime is made, and the trade supplied for a great distance east and west. The lime used in the construction of the Oregonian building in Portland was shipped by the above named company.
The kaolin fields, four miles south of Huntington, owned by L. Durkee, C. W. James and E. H. Blake, of Baker City, give promise of great value in the future. Some of the kaolin has been sent to China to be tested and was found to be of extra quality for the manufacture of fine porcelain.
Between Huntington and Snake River coal has been found, and some development work done on a small vein, and further prospecting may lead to the discovery of a large coal field.
The steamer Norma was built on Snake River in 1890, and the next year run sixty miles down the river and back. Since that time the sum of $50,000 has been expended by the government in improving of the river, and more work is yet to be done, and when the mines in the Seven Devils district are developed, the boating business on the river will increase rapidly.
Huntington has a population of about 600, and was incorporated in 1891; F. A. Bowen was the first recorder. The town supports a newspaper, The Herald, now in its third volume, issued weekly by F. A. Bowen, editor and publisher, and has a circulation of about 500 copies and a liberal advertising patronage.
In 1884 a town site was surveyed on the line of the railroad about midway north and south in Powder River valley. The town was named Haines for the proprietor of the land on which it was built, the late Senator I. D. Haines.
Haines is the nearest shipping point for a great part of the best farming land in the valley, and also for the lumber and shingles from three sawmills and a shingle mill in the foothills on the west side of the valley.
The business establishments comprise one store, general merchandise, a drug store, a confectionery and cigar store, a restaurant, two blacksmith shops and a livery stable.
A house of worship was built in the town in 1890 by the Baptists and the Methodists built another one for the use of that denomination in the year 1893.
In October, 1891, the Sumpter Valley railroad, three foot gauge, was completed from Baker City twenty-five miles up Powder River, at the present terminus of which the town of McEwen was built. The principal business of the road is the transportation of sawlogs from the timber region about McEwen to the Oregon Lumber Company’s mill near Baker City, but passengers and freight are also carried over the road.
The road was built and equipped by the stockholders of the Oregon Lumber Company at a total cost of $400,000.
The rolling stock consists of four locomotives and sixty cars of all kinds.
The directors of the S.V.R.R. Co. are David Eccles, Ogden, Utah; C. W. Nibley, Logan, Utah; John Stoddard, Wm. Eccles and F. M. Shurtliff of Oregon. Joseph A. West, superintendent, Baker City.
The S.V.R.R. Co. contemplate extending the road to the John Day coal fields near Canyon City.
The Oregon Lumber Company have built another sawmill four miles from McEwen. The two mills will have a cutting capacity of 100,000 feet per day.
Nearly all the products of the mills is shipped to Ogden, Utah. The company have a planing mill near the Baker City sawmill, where they manufacture flooring, rustic, ceiling, surfaced lumber, molding, lath and fruit and packing boxes. About one hundred men are employed by the company in the various branches of the business.
A telephone line from McEwen connects with the company’s office at Baker City, the U. P. depot and Warshauer hotel.
The town of McEwen has two stores, a hotel, two blacksmith shops, a saloon, an Odd Fellows hall and a Methodist church. The country about McEwen is settled by claimants on timber lands. Logging is the principal industry.