The soul and efficiency of a city may be based in large part on intangibles, such as leadership, organizations, participation and spirit.
Baker City was incorporated by the Legislature on Oct 5, 18874, with a strong mayor-council from of government. Many persons were active at that time, including these and others: C. H. Foster, S. B. McCord, Pete Basche, W. H Packwood, H. C. Durkee, S. A. Heilner, Carl Adler, J. Bowen. There were many others: Geisers, Moellers, Palmers, Campbells, Moultons, Clarkes, Perkinses, Harpers, Place, Johns.
In 1884, the Legislature passed a new charter and again in 1889, when a ward system was adopted; and yet again in 1911, when a mayor-commissioner from was adopted. In 1951, the present city council-manager form was voted in.
As the rural village became a city private companies developed power plants. In 1888, Baker City franchised L. L. Brownell to erect a gas works and electric plant or other artificial light system. In 1900, the Baker City Gas and Electric Company was organized, including a steam plant.
In 1904, William Shoemaker developed the Rock Creek Power and Transmission Company. A year later, the Baker Light and Power Company developed and soon acquired the Rock Creek and the Baker City Gas and Electric Companies. It became the Elkhorn Light and Power Company.
The Elkhorn consolidated with Fremont Power and became Eastern Oregon Light and Power Company, which, with the Grande Ronde Electric, the Elgin Electric, and the Eagle Valley Power Company, had four hydro-electric plants in the system, and maintained an auxiliary plant in Baker.
California-Pacific Utility Company purchased the Eastern Oregon Light and Power facility in 1947, and soon extended lines into the rural areas. Cal-Pac purchased Sumpter Power Company, and in 1947, extended a 69,000 volt line from Huntington to Baker. California-Pacific became CP National and currently is in negotiation to sell this section of CP National to Idaho Power. (JRE).
Baker A Center
Baker has traditionally been a center of finance, distribution to smaller areas, and political involvement in the state. At one time, 23 regional state offices were located here before modern communication caused centralization in the state.
Transportation and distribution patterns have changed also, so that distribution is now accomplished by fleets of trucks from metropolitan centers rather than regional distribution. Hardware and other items come ready packaged for the retail store. Thus, Basche-Sage, a regional wholesale hardware firm closed, as did Eastern Oregon Meat, Baker Grocery and others.
District offices of the Bureau of Land Management are maintained in the Federal Building: Wallowa-Whitman offices are housed there also, with management functions for the forests and the Wild and Scenic Stake River and Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.
Baker is a regional headquarters of the State Police.
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