Cowboy Cathedral in Oregon

I’m delving around in the photo files from our book Home Work, published in 2004. This is the so-called round barn, built by cattleman Peter French and what is now the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in southeast Oregon. In 1872, French set out for Oregon from Sacramento, California with 1200 head of select shorthorn cattle, six Mexican vaqueros, and a Chinese cook. He drove the cattle across the Sacramento River and then then northward up into Eastern Oregon, where he settled on the west side of Steens Mountain. Over the years, his ranching Empire grew to encompass 200,000 acres and 45,000 head of cattle, one of the largest cattle empires west of the Rockies.

In the late ’70s or early ’80s, French built three round barns for breaking horses in the winter months. This one is 100 feet in diameter, the conical roof framed with a 35-foot center pole of Juniper (about 40 inches at the bottom, tapering to maybe 28 inches at the top), 14 surrounding Juniper posts and then a third wall of posts at the perimeter about 8 feet high. It’s a breathtaking building; I spent a couple of hours there in Spring, 2003, shooting photos.

It’s a great story, with 7 more photos, told on pages 206 to 207 of Home Work.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

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