Some towns - some small towns or midsized towns - give you the impression that community leaders of the past had the idea, and acted on it, that this place was going to become a major urban center in time to come. And though it never did, the landmarks remain, testimony to that long-ago ambition.
You notice it, for example, in Wenatchee, Washington. And in Baker, Oregon. As you bypass Baker on Interstate 84 you can pick out the downtown a couple of miles away, and even from that distance you get the sense that this was a place of ambition. From a distance, and even more close up, you can see in the Geiser Grand Hotel, restored now to much of its former glory (and a place worth staying for an out of town jaunt, by the way).
And, of course, a few blocks from there, and most of all as a marker of Baker urbanity, the Baker Tower (which also was once a hotel).
That's its name, and it's what you'd call it if you didn't know the name. It is 10 stories high, the tallest building in Oregon between the Cascade Mountains and Boise, Idaho. By itself, it connotes that Baker was and is something more than just a highway stop of a burg.
We note this today because the tower, rehabbed in 2001 into usefulness as retail and office space, is up for sale at auction. The reserve price ($1.8 million) is less than the cost of the rehab work, suggesting an emergency sale; but no immediate explanation for the sale has been released. In any event, the eyes of Baker will be upon the results. History and pride ride on it.