National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center beginning major retrofit
BAKER CITY, Ore. — A $6.5 million infrastructure makeover of the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center will begin March 2, the Bureau of Land Management announced today.
Plans call for replacing the entire building envelope, installing new cement board siding, insulation, roofing, windows, and doors, along with the heating and cooling system. The all-electric facility costs an average of $10,000 per month to operate and the retrofit is expected to reduce energy consumption by 73 percent.
“We want to be good stewards of our natural resources,” said Vale District Manager Wayne Monger, whose office oversees the center. “This design utilizes high thermal insulation value materials and high efficiency heating and cooling technology to counter summer and winter energy demands of the site.”
Approximately 16 percent of the project is funded through the Great American Outdoors Act, which allocates up to $1.9 billion annually for maintenance and improvements to critical facilities and infrastructure in national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, recreation areas and Tribal schools. Hess Contracting of Preston, Idaho, will conduct the work, which is expected to be complete in spring 2023.
The interpretive center has been closed since October 2021 to allow for the removal and storage of artifacts, exhibits and furnishings in preparation for the project, and will remain closed several more months after construction while the exhibits and fixtures are reinstalled.
During construction, visitors will still have a range of opportunities to learn about the Oregon Trail in Baker City. A new exhibit at the Baker Heritage Museum in Baker City is scheduled to open in May. BLM park rangers will staff the exhibit and provide interpretive programs. Living history demonstrations and events will be held across the street at Geiser Pollman Park, too. The Oregon Trail Ruts Access will remain open throughout construction.
“We recognize the important role the center plays in telling the history of eastern Oregon and the settlement of the Pacific Northwest,” said Monger.
Thirty years ago, the interpretive center opened its doors for the first time. Since then, almost 2.4 million visitors have learned what it was like to be part of one of the longest overland migrations in North American history.
For more information and to learn more about the Oregon Trail, visit oregontrail.blm.gov or call 541-523-1843.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.