The Baker City Chinese Cemetery was once the resting place of Chinese immigrants who had lived in the Baker City Chinatown from around 1880 through 1940. The Oregon Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association based in Portland owns the cemetery and has worked with the Baker County Historical Society and numerous volunteers to clean and interpret the site, which is open to the public. As was customary, the remains of most of the people once buried here were gathered and returned to their homelands in China. One marked burial remains and it is suspected that a few others may be unmarked at the site. A walking path and interpretive signs have been installed to share the history of the cemetery and the Chinese immigrants who once made Baker City their home.
The masonry burner at the cemetery had been vandalized but was reconstructed in 2000. The current design is based partly on the memories of an 88 year old Chinese American native of Baker City. The masonry structure has a sheet metal roof on a framework of cast iron pipe based on remains of the original found at the site. Much of the stone used in the reconstruction is believed to be from the original structure. These burners are common features at cemeteries in the Chinese diaspora. They were used for the ritual burning of spiritual tributes, often paper or cardboard facsimiles of money, clothing, houses and other possessions for use by the deceased in the spirit realm.
A carved stone maker in the Baker City Chinese Cemetery commemorates those who had been interred there. The marker lists the seventeen known names, out of the approximately 67, who were buried there before their remains were disinterred and returned to China. A graceful tile roofed pavilion designed and built in Suzhou, China was installed at the site in 2002 by the Baker County Historical Society in recognition to the contribution of the Chinese immigrants to the development of Baker County.
Access information: 2350 Windmill Road, Baker City, OR. From Exit 304 off Interstate 84, head east on OR-7/Campbell Street. After approximately .3 miles turn right onto Windmill Road. Follow Windmill Road for .2 miles to the cemetery.
For more, check out Oregon’s Chinese Heritage: A Legacy of Places.