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AUBURN

These gold fields discovered in 1861 by goldseekers Henry Griffin and David Littlefield, were for a brief time the gold metopolis of the busy mining district of the Baker area. In 1862 two young Frendmen panned nearly $100,000 in gold dist from Blue Canyon Creek. An increasing local population erected numerous log cabins and a blockhouse as protection against Indians; by 1863-4, Auburn had a roistering population of 5,000 and was the second largest town in the state. For five years - from 1862 to 1867 - Auburn was Baker countyseat, but is life declined folliwng the discovery of godl in Idaho. A wide-open town, it early became a center of operation for gambler nd questionable characters. In later years many Chinese came in to operate laundries and restaurants, and stayed through the town's decline to gather the last traces of gold. Still later all the vestiges of Auburn disappeared, leaving only three cemeteries, one whete and two Chinese.

 

BOURNE

Located seven miles up Cracker Creek from Sumpter, Bourne was named after Jonathan Bourne, Jr. who became a U.S. Senator for Oregon from 1907-1913 who acquired extensive mining properties in northestern Oregon.

 

BRIDGEPORT

A crucial link between Baker City and the Burnt River Valley, Bridgeport was established to accomodate a shorter route to Clark Creek, and thus construction of the wagon road began in 1868, and at the south end of the road where the river crossed, the terminus was situated and the creation of the toll road and thus Bridgeport sprung into being ....

 

CARSON

Named for Tom Carson, an early miller who settled on a small stream and established a saw mill known as Carson Mill.

 

COPPERFIELD

Located seventy-five miles northeast of Baker City, this wild town was established in 1908 to house the miners who were working on the Snake River, but was so rowdy, it was closed under martial law and later burned down.

Because Baker County authorities refused to clean up the railroad boom town of Copperfield, in northeastern Oregon, by Christmas, 1913, Oregon's Governor Oswald West, sent his secretary, Fern Hobbs, tothis wide-open town on New year's Day, 1914, with full authority to act in his name. Acoompanied by five national guardsmen, and a declaration of martial law, she dramatically closed all saloons and "establishements" within eighty minutes, then took the train to Baker and Salem. The four gaurdsmmen remained to mop up. A few months after their departure, a fire left the town in ruins. The incident ws something of a nationwide news sensation.

 

CORNUCOPIA
("Horn of Plenty")

Located at the upper end of the Pine Valley, high in the Eagle Mountains, it was so named because of the millions of dollars worth of gold discovered here in 1880. The town, which was hastily constructed to house the miners who rushed here.

 

DURKEE

A Wells Fargo stage station, the Express Rand was situated on the Durkee family ranch which sold the railroad right-of-way in 1883.

 

HAINES

This town was started in 1883, one year before the railroad came to Baker City, and was platted on the land of Judge I.D. Haines of Baker City. It's firs post office was established in November of 1884.

 

HALFWAY

With post offices on either end of the valley, one at Pine and the other at Cornucopia, the residents of the valley petitioned to open a post office halfway between the two at the store owned by Alex Stalker; and thus Halfway came into existence. At the time it was established, it was situated in Union County which had split from Baker in 1864, but the panhandle area was returned to Baker County in 1901.

 

HEREFORD

This town, which was primarily a ranching community raising livestock, was named its been said, when a Hereford bull was being led through the settlement and someone suggested the name.

 

HOMESTEAD

Named for the Pearce homestead upon which the settlement sat, it was platted and incorporated by the Dyke Mine promoters, but a slump in the copper production caused the railroad to remove their lines and Homestead became a ghost town.

 

HUNTINGTON

Settled in August of 1862 by Henry Miller who had built the tavern, Miller's Station, at which the pioneers stopped, it was bought in 1882 by J.B & J.M. Huntington. The Oregon Short Line and the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company joined here, which also brought J.T. Fifer who opened a general merchandise store and others such as a blacksmith shop, hotel, boarding houses, restaraunts, and saloons.

 

KEATING

Named for "Uncle Tom" Keating, who was a British sailor and one of the first to settle the area. He owned much of the land, but lost most of it ....

 

LIME

This town grew around the lime manufacturing business which provided most of the lime for Eastern Oregon and Western Idaho. The town built many of its prominent buildings from this lime stone, but the plant which produced more than one half million tons from 1923, closes down in 1980.

 

OXBOW

Located on the Snake River near the Ox Bow Station.

 

RICHLAND

Named for the rich soil and platted by W.R. Usher ...

 

SPARTA

Located twenty miles Northeast of Baker City, it was named by spinning a four-sided wooden top with a suggested town name on each end. Winning the spin, was William H. Packwood, a prominent pioneer from Sparta, Illinois. This town also served as a stage stop between the Eagle Valley and Baker City.

 

SUMPTER

Named for a primative log cabin called "Fort Sumpter" to commemorate the 1861 shelling of the garrison in Charleston, South Carolina, this area was settled in the fall of 1862 by Hugh Asbury, Bill Flannigan, Fletch Henderson, Dick Johnson, and John Reel. Although a miner named Winters took out $40,000 worth of gold in seven weeks from this area, the town didn't really begin to boom until the Transcontinental Railroad reached Baker City. The town was platted then in 1886 but became busier during the years of 1899 to 1903 when other hardrock mines were opened. it boasted a rickyard, sawmill, smelter, streets paved with planks and wooden sidewalks and electric lights. It also was host to baseball and basketball teams, a brewery, dairy, hospital, livery stables, hotels, clothing stores, opera house, banks, churches and several saloons as well as a newspaper and fire department. - Then, tragically, on August 13th, 1917, the town was consumed by fire and reduces to ashes and rubble ...

 

UNITY

Originally located on the freight road to Baker City around Job Creek at Tucker Swamp, the ranchers and settlers decided the post office was not convenient, and all having agreed unanimously and in unisison to move it about one and a half miles away, they decided to call it Unity and the first post office was established in 1891.

 

WHITNEY

Named for a pioneer landowner, C. H. Whitney, it was once a logging town located fourteen miles southwest of Sumpter on the Sumpter Valley Railroad line.

 

WINGVILLE

A once thriving village Northwest of Baker City, it was named because of the many southern democrats who migrated to Oregon in 1864, many who had been soldiers in General Sterling Price's army, and thus tagged, "the left wing of Price's army."

 
Sources: Telefax, Incorporated; and Dictionary of Oregon History, Edited by Howard McKinley Corning, Compiled from the Research Files of the Former Oregon Writers Project with much added material 1956 by Binfords & Mort Publishers, Metropolitan Press, Portland, Oregon
 
 
 
Updated 04 Jun 2013
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