The P Ranch Long Barn is one of the few remaining structures central to the Southwestern Oregon cattle dynasty once run by Peter French. Sent to Oregon in 1872 by California landowner Hugh J. Glenn, 23-year-old French was tasked with amassing land and establishing a profitable cattle ranching operation in what is now Harney County. French traveled with 20 vaqueros and 1,200 cattle, and he quickly established a ranch headquarters in the Donner und Blitzen Valley just 1.5 miles east of where Frenchglen now stands.
From an original total of 20 structures, three still stand: the P Ranch Long Barn, a beef wheel for hanging slaughtered cattle, and sections of stock fences. The 150-foot by 50-foot barn, originally built from pine and aspen lumber, has been structurally restored by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which still uses the structure to bed horses and store hay.
P Ranch eventually became the headquarters for the French-Glenn Livestock Company that managed nearly 200,000 acres of land on the western side of Steens Mountain, land that currently includes the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. French’s ruthless tactics for land acquisition marginalized the prospects of homesteaders in the area and resulted in widespread notoriety. French was eventually murdered by a disgruntled settler over a land dispute in 1897.
Note: Other remnants of the notorious livestock company can be found at the Pete French Round Barn State Heritage Site, 35 miles further north past Diamond, Oregon.
Be sure to fill up on gas before heading out to the Steens Mountain and Alvord Desert area. Year-round gas stations are in Burns and Fields, Oregon. The gas station in Frenchglen is only open during the summer months. Further, cell phone reception is virtually nonexistent in much of the area, so travel with extra provisions. If you plan to explore the area extensively, we highly recommend bringing additional, full gasoline canisters to ensure that you don't get stranded.