Harney County Cattle Grazing History
By: Jamie Moline, Christa Cooper, Tarah McCanna, & Marlon Dick


This website was created to inform the public about the history of grazing in Harney County. These pictures are divided into groups starting with maps to show surrounding counties, locations of ranches, and areas were Paiutes once lived and still do. There are pictures showing some of the first cattle drives with Peter French and his buckaroos and the first establishment of the county which was actually Fort Harney. Burns was later established in the mid 1880’s named after Robert Burns, a Scottish poet.



Paiute Ancestors

Buckaroo Lifestyle

Grazing Landscapes

Settling Harney County




A picture of Harney County and its surrounding areas including grant county (north), Lake County (west), Crook County (northwestern), Nevada (south), and Malheur (west).
Major features and ranch sites. This map shows the land of the Paiute Indians and where ranchers had relocated them selves to be near water sources.

Simpson 1987:  Pg. 224





Sarah Winnemuca helped other Paiutes escape from the terror spread by the Bannocks.

Brimlow 1980: Pg. 48-49

Paiutes usually made homes out of whatever was available such as sagebrush and juniper trees not teepees, but the government was not aware that not all Native Americans lives in teepees so they gave them teepees to live in instead.
Paiutes dressed in their traditional clothes for a picture in Burns.
A romanticized picture of two Bannock Indians.

OSU Archives: Pg. 89

Indian writing near Valley Falls.


Artifacts made by Native Americans found in a cave located in Harney County.

Jackman 1992: Pg. 161

Right: Buffalo Horn Chief of Bannocks, who triggered the Bannock-Paiute war in the Southeast.





Peter French and his Buckaroos after a cattle drive.
A small bunch of calves east of the Steens, when the stock was being changed to Hereford from the roan that prevailed in the 90’s.
A Poker game being played at Egan’s saloon in pre-Burns (1882). The only building in pre-Burns was Egan’s saloon which was a popular place after cattle drives.

Smyth 1984: Pg. 30

First picture of Burns in 1884





Cattle Drives were to move cows from one place to another. Horses and cows were and still are used for moving cows in a drive. Many cattle drives are done each year.
The first establishment in Harney County was Fort Harney in the early 1870’s. It was an army base made to help protect the settlers while passing through the area.
Sheep herd in Harney County.
A cattle drive in Harney County.
Cattle moving from winter geed ground in spring to range.
Moving cattle in Harney County can be a huge challenge since there are many areas where there can be very steep and rocky ridges and sagebrush can be very thick. There are also many flat areas because much of the county is also an old lakebed.
Another big event in the county is branding cattle. There were horses to help rope the calves and other horses were used to help herd the cattle to separate the cows form calves which were usually the ones being branded.
Ranchers on horseback move their cattle through the hills.
To a true cowman, a cow is a sort of fellow creature that must be carefully tended, provided with proper food and water, and cared for with a touch of guilt in his heart; for mere pelf he is parting with something he liked and respected. Such a cowman was Peter French.
Cattle Round Up by horseback.
Just a typical ranch in Harney County with cattle grazing.






A wagon train in Harney County.
A picture over Harney County in earlier times.

OSU Archives: Pg. 89

Following range fires as in this picture the land should be seeded to grasses or grass-alfalfa to prevent erosion and keep unwanted weeds and shrubs from taking the area.





Harney County Cattle Grazing Study


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