Cultural Resources Management Program
Pacific Region / California & Nevada Region

Cultural Heritage Outreach and Education PROJECTS AND EVENTS

Sod House Barn Restoration Project Malheur NWR, OR

Sod House Barn after restoration - USFWS Photo

History: Designed and constructed by Peter French, a well-known eastern Oregon rancher, the Sod House Ranch was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 because it represents an intact 1870-80s era ranch. It was one of the first ranches in Harney County and at the height of its operation encompassed 100,000 acres, making it one of the largest ranches operating on private property in the western United States.

The Sod House Ranch complex was the operation's northern headquarters. Eight of the 1870-80s era buildings remain at the ranch, including the Long Barn which measures 116 feet long, 50 feet wide and 20 feet tall. The barn, constructed of juniper posts, split juniper slabs, and ponderosa pine beams and boards, was designed by Peter French and constructed by his ranch hands. Other buildings at the ranch include a two-room office; a stone cellar built of locally quarried stone with an earthen (sod) roof, a two-story bunkhouse for the buckaroos; a chicken coop/grain storage building/carriage shed; and the original homesteader house.

Future Use: Stabilization and restoration of the Long Barn and minor repairs to the other buildings at the ranch will prepare the site for a major environmental and heritage education project. The ranch, because of the intact nature of the facilities, offers a unique opportunity to educate a wide range of age groups about the historic cattle industry of the area and its impact on the development of the Harney Basin. Phases I and II began in 1999 and were complete in 2001. Phase III will begin in September of 2002.

Last updated: December 20, 2012

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