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Bars where Pete has had a drink

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

#2617 - Baldwin Saloon, The Dalles, OR - 9/12/2014

Baldwin Saloon, The Dalles, OR
Baldwin's Restaurant was first founded in this location in 1876 and soon became a saloon, still in the midst of the gold rush days when the Dalles had some 30 saloons. The building hosted a range of non-bar businesses for most of the 20th century until 1991, when Mark and Tracy Linebarger purchased the building and refashioned it into the Baldwin Saloon again.

The Dalles, Oregon was named for the French word for "slab" ("dalle"), inspired by the flat slabs of rock that populated this part of the Colulmbia river. The locals will tell you that the city was the true termination of the Oregon Trail, as gold miners and other emigrants ended the land portion of the route here and floated the rest of the way to the coast down the Columbia.

The current Baldwin Saloon offers a large menu of mostly traditional American favorites made from scratch, with an occasional anomaly ("Chef Tammy's Thin Mint rubbed lamb roast!"). They have a very nice selection of craft beers and their cocktails -- well, let's just say the cocktails are not among the many reasons it is worth going out of your way to stop by.

Baldwin Saloon, The Dalles, OR
Above the dark woody booths and wainscoting and around the attractive, antique, mahogany back bar the exposed brick walls are covered with period oil paintings, with the focus on a growing collection by landscape artist John Englehart. The owners were not afraid to take an ethical stand on the 2017 "Day Without Immigrants," and include a few offbeat attractions. Perched on a ledge high about the tables is an 1894 Schubert mahogany piano, which includes a live pianist on weekends, described thusly: "Caroline Homer, 78, who's been playing an 1894 Schubert piano at the Baldwin every Friday and Saturday night for 20 years, except when she goes elk hunting."

To close with a bit more history I quote the saloon's own web site:

"It all began in 1876 with the Baldwin Brothers, James and John, as the original proprietors of the Baldwin Saloon. With the railroad right out front and the Columbia River nearby, business at the Baldwin Saloon kept the two brothers busy, as it was said to be the headquarters for the many men who worked the river and the railroad.Following the era of the Baldwin brothers, an interesting fellow by the name of Dr. Charlie Allen operated a saloon in this same building. Allen was an arrogant man who used the title “doctor”, although his previous occupation consisted of simply selling and adjusting eyeglasses.Allen insured his time spent at the Baldwin Saloon would go down in history when he had caduceus (medical insignias) included in the cast façade that trims the original front of the building. This cast iron façade was made specifically for this building by Golden State Iron Works in San Francisco.During the ownership of Dr. Charlie Allen, a brothel in a small frame building was attached to the back of the saloon. The operator of this establishment later married Allen, and they operated their businesses together.

The Baldwin Saloon
Photo from Wasco County Pioneer Assoc.
Since those colorful times 0f long ago, the Baldwin Saloon building has served many other purposes including a restaurant, a steamboat navigational office, a warehouse, a coffin storage site for a nearby mortuary and a state employment office.In 1962, Garth and Evelyn Bonney purchased this building for their business, Bonney Saddle Shop. For nearly 30 years Garth worked at this location making quality saddles by hand, a rare and true art passed on to him by his father. Then, only months shy of Garth’s 80th birthday, the Bonneys retired, selling their building to Mark and Tracy Linebarger, new owners with an old business in mind.They restored the saloon to its original use as a restaurant and bar. ‘the renovation process, including the conversion of the unfinished basement into a commercial kitchen, took almost one full year. Finally, on December 15, 1991, the Baldwin Saloon opened its doors and welcomed history all over again.

Today’s Baldwin Saloon certainly doesn’t have the bawdy atmosphere of its predecessor. The interior has a simple, yet elegant look that radiates warmth and comfort. Rich mahogany and golden oak booths and tables are complemented by various brass fixtures throughout the restaurant. Beautiful turn-of-the-century oil paintings are all around, and the original brick walls and old fir floor have been uncovered and given new life.

Inside the Baldwin Saloon are several old fixtures of interest. The most talked about is an 18-foot long mahogany backbar made in the early l900s. It features large columns topped with scrolls and the original mirror is trimmed with stained glass panels.

A large pendulum clock with local historic significance now hangs in the Baldwin Saloon. In 1879, this clock hung in the Umatilla House, another historical building which carries much of The Dalles’ early history. This unique clock was made in the early 1800’s and is inscribed “This clock belongs to Judd S. Fish”, who was one of the owners of the Umatilla House. Another clock like this one, but still in its original wood encasement, can be seen at the Fort Dalles Museum.

At the end of the bar is a big brass cash register that today’s bartenders use with the same enthusiasm as they did in the 1920s. To ring up a sale, the bartender must crank around the register’s arm, which in turn opens one of the three mahogany drawers the register rests on. Also on display are an old floor safe and a scale, both originally used by saddle maker Henry Kuck. Ralph Bonney (Garth Bonney’s father) and Henry Kuck were partners in the saddleshop business years ago. Kuck and Bonney Saddles was located at the corner of 2nd and Laughlin downtown The Dalles. This is where Garth first got started in the business.

Nestled up on a ledge above the dining tables is a 1894 Schubert mahogany piano. Weekend evening guests are entertained by melodies of the past sent sweeping through the building, creating a genuine feeling for the turn of the century.

The Baldwin Saloon’s history is forever in the making. As additional Englehart oil paintings are acquired and historically significant pieces are found, they will continually be added to the collection that makes the Baldwin Saloon so unique. This is a building whose spirit will live on forever."


205 Court St, The Dalles, OR 97058 - (541) 296-5666
Est. 1876/1991 - Building constructed: 1876
Web site: - facebook
Reviews: eater - sticksandsconesyelp - tripadvisor - judysbook  

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