Baker County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is named for Edward Dickinson Baker, a senator from Oregon who was killed at Ball's Bluff, a battle of the American Civil War. It was split from the eastern part of Wasco County. Union County and Malheur County were set off from Baker County in 1864 and 1887 respectively. In 2000, its population was 16,741. The seat of the county is Baker City.
In 1861 gold was discovered and Baker County became one of the Northwest's largest gold producers.
On September 22 of the following year, the state assembly created Baker County from the eastern part of Wasco County. Later, Union County and Malheur County were created from this county. The boundaries were adjusted for the last time in 1901, when the area between the Powder River and the Wallowa Mountains was returned to Baker County.
The original county seat was at Auburn. While at first a booming mining town with 5,000 inhabitants, once the gold was mined out Auburn's population dwindled, and county citizens eventually voted in 1868 to make Baker City, incorporated in 1874, the new county seat.
In 1914 Fern Hobbs, on behalf of her employer Governor Oswald West, declared martial law in the Baker County city of Copperfield. This was the first declaration of martial law in the state since the American Civil War.
About 30% of the county is forest.
There were 6,883 households out of which 28.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.20% were married couples living together, 8.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.00% were non-families. 27.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.87.
In the county, the population was spread out with 24.20% under the age of 18, 5.80% from 18 to 24, 23.60% from 25 to 44, 27.30% from 45 to 64, and 19.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 98.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $30,367, and the median income for a family was $36,106. Males had a median income of $27,133 versus $20,480 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,612. About 10.10% of families and 14.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.80% of those under age 18 and 12.40% of those age 65 or over.