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Everything's Up to Date in Baker City
A two hour drive from Enterprise led us to Baker City (the locals drop the "city" and just say Baker, so from here on out so will I), a former gold mining town that's maintained its turn-of-the-(20th)-century look and feel.
We were fortunate enough to stay at the Geiser Grand, a gorgeous hotel with stained glass panels on the ceilings and crystal chandeliers (ca. 1889)
The Geiser Grand from outside...
...and from just outside my room. This ain't no Motel 6.
Tempting as it was to settle into the lap of luxury and never leave, I decided to take a stroll down Baker's main drag, which has no fewer than 100 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Two of them (at least) were bordellos in Baker's gold-rush heydey, and now house a cable company and a small business as Baker repurposes the remnants of its bawdy past.
My favorite stop on Main Street was Baker City Gold and Silver.
The sign on the door said, "Come in, we're open," so I did. Once inside, however, I found no people, just a lot of dusty merchandise. The place seemed strangely deserted; though the lights were on and computers hummed in the back office, the only vaguely human presence was a lifesize cardboard cutout of John Wayne.
Nobody there 'cept me and the Duke...
The walls were lined with gold-panning paraphernalia and faded banners from rodeos past.
What to use should you find gold in them thar hills.
After looking through dusty display cases at commemorative Oregon Trail coins and other silver/gold creations, I left the place as I'd found it: dusty and abandoned, much like a dried-up gold dredge.
The rest of Main Street was much more lively. From the wondrous window displays (see photos on our Facebook page) to the locals lounging outside Barley Brown's Brew Pub, Baker was abustle with activity and full of surprises. Its mining days may be over, but we still struck gold there.
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