Diamond Oregon, Wild Kiger Mustangs, Pete French Round Barn & Steens Mountain Brewing
This is part 4 of our trip through eastern Oregon. If you would like to start at the beginning in the Alvord desert click here.
I listed off a few facts about Harney county in part 3 of our trip through eastern Oregon. It is a very sparsely populated area. Today we drove into the smallest town yet, Diamond Oregon with a population of 5.
We called the hotel Diamond after leaving the Malheur Wildlife refuge and they offered to put us up for the night and serve us dinner with wine. Even though there was almost no opportunity for sponsorship on this trip we were met with the kindness and hospitality of the local residents every day as we made our way across the eastern part of the state.
That night we enjoyed a lovely family style meal with the other guests staying at the hotel. We are also very lucky this trip that the only lodging accommodations available would be pet friendly. I did not take still photos of the food but the dinner service is shown in the video below.
The next morning the owner of the hotel informed us that there was a possibility of finding the heard of wild Kiger mustangs. She gave us directions that included going through a few cattle fences and driving about 11 miles off into the desert on a rough road. It was worth it. We found them and it was spectacular to see mustangs in the wild. There are some very nice shots of the horses in the video above.
We were on another loop road experience and eventually came to our next point of interest, the Pete French Round Barn. The Pete French Round Barn stands in the heart of Harney County and remains a monument to one man’s livestock empire. Peter French arrived in 1872 and began amassing land and cattle. By the mid-1880s, his enterprise had grown to 70,000 acres and 45,000 head of cattle.
Some claimed he didn’t legally acquire the land or water rights, which prompted land disputes and court cases and added to his controversial reputation. One of the disputes eventually led to his murder in 1897. Although dubbed the ‘Cattle King,” French was the first rancher in the area to put up hay. He also raised thousands of sheep for their wool. The Round Barn was used to train wild horses to pull long wagon trains full of wool, hay and supplies to market in Oregon City.
We continued driving north towards Burns Oregon. One of my favorite parts of a road trip is the synchronicity. Having no itinerary and allowing events and people guide you along is magical. Back in Frenchglen John, the owner of the hotel told us about the smallest brewery in Oregon. It was especially interesting as the outhouse at the hotel is covered by hop vines and apparently these hops are used in the outhouse stout produced by Steens Mountain Brewing. We called the owner of the brewery Rick Roy and he invited us to stop by. The brewery is in his house where we found 5 gallon buckets of fermenting beer.
I apparently took no photos of this but we did make a nice short video below. He gave us 2 beers to go and we continued north. We have spent four days traveling on dirt roads. This would be the first time we would drive on pavement in almost a week.
Our next part of the adventure would be driving straight into one of the largest wildfires in Oregon. We were making our way towards Prairie City to visit the John Day fossil beds and the painted hills.