Northeast of Diamond Craters Outstanding Natural Area stands the Pete French Round Barn, the only remaining example of three such structures built in the late 1800s to train ranch horses during harsh winter months. Peter French, sent to the area in 1872 to amass land and assume cattle ranching power, designed the barn precisely for this purpose, using a circular corral and an outer circle supported by an impressive center truss and rafters. The structure's craftsmanship and the beauty of its surroundings tell the story of an ambitious Cattle King and a rich chapter in the history of Southeastern Oregon.
The Jenkins family, who donated the land on which the barn stands, opened a visitor center, gift shop and museum in 2004. Located just up the road, it’s worth a quick stop to learn more from the visitor center staff. As locals will tell you, French’s legacy in the area is very much alive and can also be experienced at the Frenchglen Hotel State Heritage Site and the P French Long Barn.
Be sure to fill up on gas before heading out to the Steens Mountain area. Year-round gas stations can only be found 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 filling up and bringing with you additional gasoline canisters to ensure you don't get stranded.