Frenchglen & Malheur Wildlife Refuge
This is part 3 of our eastern Oregon trip. If you would like to start at the beginning in the Alvord Desert click here.
We woke the next morning at the Steens Mountain Resort in total silence. The night before the owner of the Frenchglen hotel invited us in for dinner. Dinner here is served family style so we met some of the local people. The population of Frenchglen when we visited was 7. We were told it sometimes goes up to 12.
This entire trip does not feel real. It would be easy to go through life not realizing that there are places like this that exist. Below is the main street of Frenchglen and we found something we had not seen in years, a phone booth.
Guns and Art. I guess that pretty much says it all. Well, and Harleys.
The entire town is about three blocks. There is a mercantile store and the Frenchglen hotel as well as a firehouse and a school with 14 students. I am guessing why they are not counted in the population is that they do not live in town but rather come from the ranches scattered around the area. We did not stay at the Frenchglen Hotel but we were given a tour and you can see the inside of the rooms in the video above.
We stocked up on some supplies and continued north to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Obviously we packed a lunch as there will be no options for eating once we leave town.
We consider ourselves professional picnic people. We have eaten in some very remote and beautiful places. I remember a time making scallops in an orange buerre blanc sauce on the trunk of my car on the side of Hwy 101 in the California Redwoods. Even when visiting large cities and town squares in Europe we often choose to self cater as our view is exactly the same as the people paying large amounts of money for a table just a few feet away.
Just a few months after our visit the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge would make the national news. On January 2, 2016, an armed group of far right extremists seized and occupied the headquarters of the refuge in Harney county and continued to occupy it until law enforcement made a final arrest on February 11, 2016. Their leader was Ammon Bundy who participated in the 2014 Bundy Standoff at his father’s Nevada ranch. Other members of the group were loosely affiliated with non-governmental militias and the sovereign citizen movement.
Harney county is one of the largest counties by area in the United States though the population is only about 7,700. Cattle outnumber humans by 14-1. 73% of the county is owned by the Federal government managed by the BLM, the USFS and the USFWS.
We continued north towards Diamond Oregon and called the Diamond hotel asking them if they would like to participate in our eastern Oregon documentary. They said yes! They also have a restaurant so we will be well fed and have a nice sleep courtesy of the hotel.
That will be part 4 of our trip through eastern Oregon and when we will set off into the desert to find a herd of wild mustangs.