Round Barn Glenn/French Ranch 1880 Crane Oregon

Halfway between Boise and Bend Oregon

Cattle Barons

Halfway between Boise and Bend Oregon, there is nothing except sagebrush, cattle, and cowboys. Most people, even RVers, would make the journey from Boise to Bend in one day. We stayed two nights giving us some time to poke around and experience the area including the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.   

Owl Chick Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Owl Chick Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Glenn/French ranch

We are staying at a family-owned natural hot spring (the real reason for our delay) and just to the south of us is the 1860s Glenn/French ranch—110,000 acres – 45,000 cows and 1000 horses, including almost all the water rights for miles. Pete French, by owning 110,000 acres was able to control over 200,000 acres by surrounding the remaining land and denying access to it, other than for his own purposes.

French was a stereotypical old west cattle baron. His well-earned reputation was that he was mean and all of his methods were suspect, even if they were legal.  French made an empire in east Oregon and ended up with him getting shot and killed in a gunfight, where he didn’t have a gun (more that later).

We were following the signs of a cattle drive down the road (cow patty trail) when we lucked across this round barn built by Pete French in the 1880s. French had a deep pockets money backer, named Glenn who financed things when money was needed.  French did most of the dirty work (both real dirt and underhanded work) himself. By the end of the century, French was the undisputed king in east Oregon employing most everyone and cheating, both the government and his neighbors out of everything he could. (Of course, some family members may dispute the stories.)

Not Guilty

One of the people, who French bullied, was Ed Oliver, and the dispute was about land access, which Oliver owned and French used for himself. In the 1898 story, both men were on horseback, Oliver charging into French who was using a whip on Oliver and his horse. Oliver pulled out his gun and shot French at close range in the forehead.  After arrest and trial, even though French was not armed with a deadly weapon and despite the efforts of the district attorney, a jury held that Oliver killed French in self-defense, delivering a verdict of not guilty. The story goes that jury selection included some of French’s neighbors.

Here is a link to the google map for the area.

Link to our 2018 Route.

Link to our route Boise to Coos Bay

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2 thoughts on “Halfway between Boise and Bend Oregon”

  1. What a treat. Linda’s going to be very envious. I’ve not taken her to Glenwood Springs yet. Enjoy this, my friend.

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