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Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Shopping~~Harney County Style

Yesterday was the annual Customer Appreciation Day at the Pete French Round Barn Visitors Center. To me it wouldn't be Christmas without a trip to the Round Barn! It's located between Princeton and Diamond...out in the middle of numerous cattle ranches.


The Pete French Round barn was built by cattle king Pete French in the late 1870's or early 1880's, the date is uncertain. He actually had built 3 of these barns and this is the only one remaining. In 1969 the Jenkin's family donated the Round Barn to the State of Oregon for everyone to enjoy.



During the long, cold winter months the buckaroos would train horses in this barn. They trained them for driving. Freight lines were all horses then of course, so there was a huge market for well trained driving horses.


The new training horses would be hitched up behind experienced driving horses and the unique round construction allowed them to circle around and around on the outside circle. The open outsides are facing the off-wind side.


The inside circle is constructed with thousands of stones. Windows are placed evenly around the circle to let light into the center. The inner circle housed the horses that were being trained and you find remanents of old hay feeders and such.


Also take note of the construction on this gate. There are no hardware pieces...no hinges. The gate post swings by rotating in a hole at the base and the top. The size of the timbers is amazing. They (and the stones) were hauled many a mile to this location.

This is the other gate. There are two openings going into the center circle.



The construction style of these barns was unheard of before. Pete French was a genius in his time. He also had common sense...he was the first rancher in the area to stock pile dry hay for winter feeding. One extremely bad winter, most of the other homesteaders lost all of their cows. Pete French didn't loose any...he had hay to feed! What a novel idea!

See the huge bird's nest at the base? You'll also notice the dozens of mud dauber nests in the rafters.

But, Pete French was also a very greedy man. He was short in stature and very cocky. He pushed settlers off their land so he could claim it...he amassed huge land holdings. But, he thumped on one settler at the wrong place and wrong time, one too many times. Pete French was shot dead off of his horse. It never pays to be greedy.

Ok...enough of that...the wind was blowing and I was cold enough...ready for a warm up! Off to the Visitors Center...goodies and drinks await us!

As you can see, the construction on the inside of the Visitors Center resembles the Round Barn. Dick Jenkins built the Center in 2003. He was born and raised at the same place he lives now. Dick is a wonderful man and so interesting to talk to...if you need to know something, Dick will know!

During the Spring, Summer, and Fall he does tours around Harney County to all the historical sites, Steens Mountains, and the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge. I see him come by our "Old Princeton" buildings with his tour bus.

Need a Les Vogt bit? This is where I got mine!


How about a book...I get stuck in this book store...excellent sellection of books from wildlife to cooking to the old west to training your horse! I picked out a couple for my stocking stuffers. Yep, I pick them out and My Man hides them until Christmas...heehee!

If you are interested in reading more about Pete French "Untamed Land, The Death of Pet French & The End of the Old West" is my suggestion. It's very interesting reading.

I also got a new winter coat. My Carhart coat of 1 winter's use blew out the zipper! Dang. I'm going to try to replace it, but in the meantime, this one will do just fine.

By the time we left (1:30 p.m.) the place was full of neighbors and friends chatting the afternoon away. Beer, wine, coffee, pop and a table full of finger food to enjoy. A great time was had by all!

So, if you're ever in Harney County, stop at our place and we'll all take a trip to the Round Barn for some fun shopping!

16 comments:

Reddunappy said...

Cool barn! I always wanted to take picture of old barns in our area, they dont last a hundred years here on the wet side. Its cold and icky out I am going to cancel my doc appt for tommorow because of the weather, its in Portland. I still have shopping to do..... sigh

Tracey said...

Sure, sure...break my heart a little more!

I've yet to visit the round barn, but it's on my to do list. Perhaps next year, right?

Kathleen said...

So cool, love the history.
Also love the John Denver song on your playlist! :-)

C-ingspots said...

That is a cool barn - they did a segment on Oregon Public Broadcastong (OPB) on that barn one time. It is really amazing. I'd just love to come see it in person though. And, your shopping weekend is my kinda shopping!! I just got a new Carhart catalog - there's a coat in there I'm just dying for!! Sounds like you had a great time.

The Wife said...

What a great old barn! The construction was awesome. Thanks for sharing!

Train Wreck said...

Yes that is a great barn! Very well made! Nothing like that around here. Even the old wood barns are falling down around this area, people stealing the barn wood. Very sad! Thanks for checking oon me while I was away!

Pony Girl said...

Amazing barn! Is the structure still solid? I would love to see that someday! That visitors center store looks like a fun place to browse, too! I might check into that book. I'm reading one about dude rancher Alice Gleason right now and it's so enjoyable. Such a different time and life!

froglander said...

That is a really ingenious structure! I love all the lines in it. Thank you for posting so many pictures. I am just gonna have to make it down there again and check out more than just the corrals...

the7msn said...

I'd rather shop there than Nordstrom's any day of the week. And the old training barn...what I wouldn't give for one of those. So much history where you are! How close is your place to the Oregon Trail?

Cheyenne said...

Wow, what a beautiful old barn. I love old things. The other pics from Christmas shopping are awesome. Maybe I have one day the chance to see this.
Thanks for sharing !

Best wishes
send you
Cheyenne

gtyyup said...

PG~The barn really is quite solid for its age. There have been some minor repairs to the roof and outside. It was constructed with Juniper logs which is a very long lasting hard wood. Combined with the dry climate, it has preserved the barn. If you like history like that, you'll enjoy the book.

7MSN~The Oregon Trail is quite a ways north of us. It traveled through northeast Oregon until it reached the Columbia River, between Oregon and Washington. We're in southeast Oregon.

Latigo Liz said...

Love it! They just don’t make barns like that anymore! I’d love to have a barn that lasted like one of those old ones!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

What an interesting bit of history you've shared about that unique old barn. I was fascinated! And you shopping trip was just the sort I enjoy....no flashy malls for me, thank you!

When I get to SE Oregon one day, I'll be sure to look you up :)

~Lisa
New Mexico

Ed said...

Great history lesson...

OneCowgirl said...

I would love to see that round barn. How COOL!!

Practicalrider said...

That's absolutely amazing.
My husband and I are planning a round stable-working-training building and I have been doing some architectural test renderings for a few months. These images gave me a lot to chew on.

I have never seen or heard of another round barn.

I love the 'high rise' in the middle of this. We were going to make ours 'two story' and use the high area in the middle for hay storage (doubling as added insulation.

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