The Peter French Round Barn
Having grown up around horses and in Amish country, I’ve seen a lot of beautiful barns in my life, but this round barn in southeast Oregon, built in 1880 to train and exercise horses through the winter, just might take the cake. I stumbled upon this place on my way into the Steens Mountains south of Burns, an unusual glacially-carved basalt landscape that I’ve long wanted to visit.
The round barn is essentially a covered round pen with an inner ring and an outer track.
The inner circle
The center post is a huge juniper tree that was carted in from 60 miles way. Trees don’t grow this tall and straight around here.
Notice the nest in the middle
Beautiful beams. This place was built to last. The Round Barn is no longer in use, but it’s preserved as a historical building in the National Register of Historic Places.
Windows encircle the inner ring, bringing light and ventilation into the arena.
The inner ring is built out of volcanic basalt, very common in this region.
Eyes peeled! I’m back in rattler country!
The Rattler & the Round Barn
Rovering in the Steens past Big Indian Gorge. I left the Rattler at camp to drive the 60-mile Steens loop road.
The terrain in the Steens Mountains is made up of basalt lava flows stacked hundreds of feet thick that erupted between 17 and 14 million years ago in a series of voluminous eruptions. Four massive U-shaped gorges were then carved out of the basalt by glaciers during the last ice age, creating a uniquely beautiful landscape shaped by fire and ice.
A textbook U-shaped glacially-carved valley. Rivers carve V-shaped valleys but glaciers carve U-shapes.
Behind this sign: Wilderness!
One of the gorges, end on
The Kiger Gorge. The notch in the opposite ridge was carved by two glaciers meeting on either side of the ridgeline.
Wild Horse Lake D.O.G. Remains of a glacial lake, left suspended in a hanging valley as the ice retreated down the canyon on the left.
Hiking up to the summit of Steens Mountain. There’s a weather station on top so a rough road goes all the way up.
Steens Mountain summit marker placed in 1935.
Unopened can of beer on the summit. Oh Bubba.
From the summit of Steens Mountain at 9,733 feet. This mountain is a classic fault block where a chunk of the Earth’s crust gets uplifted high above the surrounding terrain by tectonic movement. The Alvord Desert is visible on the far right below the steep, rugged east face.
I think it’s about time I climbed one of those Cascade volcanoes! Stay tuned…