New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Pete French Round Barn


My third Oregon historical book was right after the Civil War and involved the beginning of cattle ranching in Eastern Oregon. The region along the North Fork of the John Day, because I love it so much, actually didn't have big cattle ranchers that early; but hey that's why I call them historical romances not history books.

On this trip, I was doing research for the fourth Oregon book but we had some must stop destinations along the way. One was Pete French's round barn. We'd been there in 1978 (oh my gosh what I looked like over 35 years ago I don't want to even think) but this time we took some wonderful photos of the barn.


Pete French, born John William French in 1849, in 1872 drove herd of 1200 shorthorns up from California to the Malheur region. He had the backing of a big California rancher (whose daughter he later married). The ranch French established eventually grew to 200,000 acres before he was murdered over a boundary dispute. Because of the nature of the law and local western politics at that time, the man who shot him (unarmed and in the back) got off on a self-defense plea because French (small even for the times at 5'6") had hit him with a riding crop-- maybe.

The round barn is one of the remaining structures from the ranch's heyday. It was built to work horses during the winter and a fantastically beautiful structure. It had been maintained by the Jenkins family until it was eventually turned into a state park-- fortunately as Malheur and the P Ranch were closed when we were there thanks to being federally owned.

I might've changed a lot since I was first there, but it looked exactly the same.


Okay, I know after what I said above, you might be curious; so here's the photo of my kids and me from that trip in 1978. The second old photo proves owl families have been using this barn for a long, long time.



9 comments:

OldLady Of The Hills said...

That building is such a BEAUTIFUL shape....And I wish the picture of you and the kids were bigger....I cannot really see you very well, my dear Rain...!

Rain Trueax said...

well i have a few others from that age which I'll share sometime, Naomi. I have always felt women are at their best when 35 or so. But having my daughter and daughter-in-law now in their 40s I am thinking it could be a bit older for some women ;)

Rain Trueax said...

The thing that got me about French's murder was the politics of the time letting the killer off. I guess not much changes, does it...

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

That's a pretty cool looking barn. Interesting how there aren't any other structures around it. Makes me wonder at how we put a horse in a stable, and I wonder, being such herd animals, if they'd prefer to just be all in a barn together, and allowed to wander around as they see fit. Not so convenient for the human, I guess.

Rain Trueax said...

i expect in 1899, there were fences and maybe other structures. This one was special. There were three of them and the others are gone. It takes some maintenance to keep a barn like this out there in this shape. We had a wonderful old barn on our little ranch in the Coast Range and it finally fell down because we didn't put the thousands into it. They said they used it in the winter to train horses, taking them around that circle inside. They had thousands of horses on those ranches in those days.

Mark said...

That's a pretty cool structure.

It makes me kind of sad to see pictures of me from that long ago. There were so many possibilities, and I was such an idiot.

Rain Trueax said...

All we can do is pass on the wisdom we have gained, Mark. If any of them will listen :)

Ingineer66 said...

The resemblance between you, your daughter and granddaughter is just amazing. My daughter, her mother and grandmother all look very much alike in photos of them as children. I suppose my father and my son look like me, but I do not notice it as much as others do.

Rain Trueax said...

I don't think I ever saw a photo of your father, ingineer, but your son sure is a mini-me of you ;) Nobody would have to ask who was his father when you are in a group. I do get told that about my daughter, granddaughter and me also. I think it's harder for us to see it in ourselves than in others