This Labor Day weekend we decided to get out of town and explore my husband’s family history so we hopped in the car and traveled three hundred miles east to Baker City, Oregon. It’s a quaint, historic town that played a large part in the state’s history and today many long-time Oregon residents can trace their own family history back to the city’s wide streets and beautiful Victorian buildings.
Baker City, once considered to be Oregon’s “second city” to Portland, was the center of one of our state’s first gold rush eras and later it became a stop on the Oregon Trail. Today, visitors can get a glimpse into that period through the amazing collection of historic commercial buildings lining the wide streets of Downtown Baker City.
More than 80 buildings have been restored in Baker City’s Downtown Historic District since 1991. One of the most impressive is the 127-year-old Geiser Grand Hotel, which is where we chose to stay during our trip.
In its early days, the Geiser had the reputation of being the finest hotel between Portland and Salt Lake City and it proudly took on the moniker of “Queen of the Mines.” It’s Victorian Italianate design features a second floor gallery, mahogany staircase and the third elevator to be found west of the Mississippi (now housed at a local museum).
Period adornments original to the hotel, as well as reproductions are found throughout its three stories, including a recreated stained glass ceiling and Italian-made Murano glass chandeliers acquired from the estate of fashion designer Giovanni Versace.
The Geiser Grand offers all the amenities you would expect in a modern hotel. A large dining room is open for dinner and a café and pub offer excellent breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.
There are several unique and beautiful conference rooms, including one located in the basement where you can view two tunnel entrances that were part of a very active underground community during Baker City’s rowdier days.
Baker City and the Geiser Grand Hotel is a great place to explore the early history of Oregon. There are great museums, fantastic food and drinks, and tree-lined streets that continue to sport the grandeur of Oregon’s illustrious past.