Baker was founded as a station on the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad in 1908, and was named after Richard C. Baker, business partner of Francis Marion Smith in building the railroad. Baker later became president of the T&T himself.
Baker was established in 1929 by Ralph Jacobus Fairbanks (1857–1942), who was an American prospector, entrepreneur and pioneer who established several towns in the Death Valley area of California, including Fairbanks Springs (1904–05) and Shoshone (1910)
It is the site of a vacant for-profit prison formerly operated by Cornell Corrections which experienced a major riot on December 2, 2003, four weeks before it was temporarily closed. It was permanently closed on December 25, 2009. GEO Group purchased Cornell Companies, its owner, on August 12, 2010. It had previously experienced escapes in August and November 1995, and two on July 15, 1997.