"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Painted Wagons to Airstream Trailers - Baker City, OR

Baker City, Oregon
Baker County Fairgrounds

The Baker Heritage Museum is definitely worth a stop if you're in town.  It's somewhat seasonal so check first.  What I really liked is that everything there was donated by a resident over the years and used or made in Baker City.  There are some displays that really stand out.
Paint Your Wagon, Starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood, was filmed outside of town in 1968.  (Don't get mad at me if you find yourself humming that song all day!)

This is a small model of the town of No Name City.  The actual town was completely dismantled after filming.  Too bad they couldn't have left it, it would've been really neat to walk through.
Another big display is a private collection which was started by two Baker City sisters in the 1930's and was their hobby for 45 year.  In 1983 the entire 18-ton collection was donated to the museum where it is on permanent display.
I always like the fluorescent displays.
Huge crystals!!
I don't think I've seen the interesting green color of one of these.
The 1928 Whippet.  I'd never heard of it before.
Pretty interesting.

This kettle was used for lard rendering.
Stamp Mill used in gold processing.
The old "school bus"!

The original museum building was a Natatorium which is a fancy word for indoor swimming pool.  You can compare the two above pictures to see how it originally looked compared to now that it is a museum. 
The original wooden pipe used to fill the swimming pool.
I didn't know this was the birthplace of the Airstream Trailer.
Wally Byam was born July 4, 1896, in Baker City, Oregon. At that time, Baker City was a boom town along the Oregon Trail, which his grandparents had traveled along on their journey out west in a mule drawn wagon.

I really like how creating new travel experiences, encouraging rallies and fellowship were very important to Mr. Byam.
My favorite part of his above creed:  To lead wherever the four winds blow... over twinkling boulevards, across trackless desserts... to the traveled and untraveled corners of the earth.
Every wonder where the name came from? 

St. Frances de Sales Cathedral Parish stands out behind Main St.  It was closed so unfortunately we couldn't go inside.

The Armstrong Nugget is the largest gold nugget from Oregon still in existence today. It was found by George Armstrong and Dick Stewart on June 19, 1913.  Steve couldn't wait to see this display. It is on display at the US Bank in town and can be seen during banking hours.
While washing out gravel in their claim, Stewart spotted an odd looking object in the creek and reached down to pick it up. He was shocked to discover that it was a huge gold nugget, as large as a mans fist. The next day they headed to Baker City with their nugget. The assayer confirmed that it was solid gold and weighed a whopping 80.4 troy ounces.

Almost all of the large gold nuggets discovered by the early miners were melted down, but fortunately the Armstrong nugget still exists today. The melt value is well over $100,000, but it's rarity would make it worth many times that amount to a collector.
They also had many gold coins on display.

One last walk down this cute town before we head back to California for the holidays.


It's not everyday you see a Tyrannosaurus walking by.  Well it is almost Halloween.


  1. Oh, my...that’s a beautiful Whippet, Debbie! My paternal grandfather was a Whippet and Willy’s Knight dealer before the Great Depression. At one time, we had a Whippet banner that flew below the Stars and Stripes in front of his dealership in River Rouge, Michigan. Dad possessed it last, and it’s gone now.

    1. How cool is that?! You're family sure has done some awesome things Jim!

  2. Very cool museum and that gold nugget. Wow....I like to watch Gold Rush on Discovery Channel. Would love to get me some of that. Great photos. Oregon is such a great state. Wish we could have seen more as we passed through.

    1. Steve loves that show too. Maybe we should all buy a mine up there? You guys saw some great parts of Oregon too. We've been about 3 times already. There is a lot to see. We still want to do the NE corner more.

  3. What an interesting museum and town! Glad to see we’re not the only ones so far behind in our blog. 😉

    1. It really was. We only stopped as a pass through back to CA. It turned out to be a really fun place!

  4. Love the old museums, so many times they are gems. Never knew the history of Airstreams, love Wally's creed...still hold true today. That's a lot of gold there, I would love to see the old bank that houses it, but then I was a banker in another life.

    1. I'd read some of the Airstream history in Indiana, but I didn't know anything about them being created here. It was a nice surprise. Really great man with a great vision. The bank the gold is in is just a rather plain, modern bank.

  5. Thanks for the tour of Baker City. I have never been there, but now I have to go. The history of Airstream is also interesting.

    1. It really turned out to be a fun area and town.


I’d love to hear from you! It’s more fun when you leave a comment!