The legendary stage stop of Bakeoven
The stage stop of Bakeoven is located along the old The Dalles-Canyon City wagon road and is now known as Bakeoven Road, which winds from Maupin to Highway 97 near Shaniko. The old ranch and some outbuildings remain at the original location in Wasco County.
The story of Bakeoven dates to the discovery of gold in Canyon City in 1862. An enterprising trader started from The Dalles with a pack train of flour. He had crossed the Deschutes River at what is now known as Sherar's Bridge and camped up the old wagon grade at some springs just below Shaniko Flats. Indians drove off his horses during the night. He was left stranded until other travelers along the route would come by. Undaunted by the loss of his horses, he constructed a rough adobe and stone bake oven, and made bread, which he sold to prospectors and miners on their way to the gold fields of Canyon City.
The old oven remained in existence for many years and gave its name to the establishment of a stage stop and post office at the site. There are substantial springs located at the site, and it had been a camping spot for the Lost Meek Wagon Train of 1845, when they were desperately heading for The Dalles. It is reported in journals of the Meek party that six people were buried at the spring site.
Bakeoven soon became a regular stage stop along the steep grade up from the Deschutes to Shaniko Flats. Andy Swift established the Bakeoven Inn, blacksmith shops and livery barn in 1871. He sold to Thomas Burgess in 1873, and he added a general store at the location. A post office was established there on Dec. 1, 1875, with Ellen Burgess the first postmaster.
Bakeoven prospered for several years while gold production in the Canyon City area continued. It was at a division point on the main wagon road to Canyon City from The Dalles. After the mining boom declined, the main wagon road diverted from The Dalles to Prineville, the growing metropolis of Central Oregon. It took a day and a night to travel by stage from The Dalles to Prineville, and Bakeoven was usually the night rest stop. Later, Joseph Sherar built a hotel at Sherar's Bridge, and it became the main rest stop.
The Bakeoven wagon road was put out of business when the Columbia Southern Railroad constructed a line from the Columbia River to Shaniko in 1899. Stage traffic then left from and to Shaniko and eliminated the steep grade by Bakeoven. The Bakeoven area had a short boom when Shaniko prospered as it was a food supplier for Shaniko. When rail traffic at Shaniko declined with the completion of the rails along the Deschutes River, Bakeoven declined. The post office was discontinued on March 20, 1918, and the once prosperous location became an isolated ranch.
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