Much of Harney's population comes from the rural towns and surrounding areas of Crane, Drewsey, Frenchglen, and Riley. Because Harney County is so large, these small towns (all have populations of less than 500) are each at least one to two hours away from each other. The residents of these small rural communities have very little in way of supplies, and have to drive to Burns or to the "neighboring" cities of Bend or Ontario to get their basic neccesities. Burns is the largest town in Harney County with a population of it combined with Hines to nearly 5000.
One of the biggest attractions in Harney County is the Steens Mountains. The Steens is the tallest peak in Harney County at 9773 feet. Calling the summit of the Steens a peak is somewhat inaccuate though, as the mountain is pretty much a gettle slope up to the summit. The summit is gently arrived at from the west side, starting at an elevation of about 3500 feet and ending at the 9773 by going up the gentle slope of over 20 miles. This is not the case on the east face though. On the east face the elevation drops off from the 9773 feet to about 5000 in only 3 miles. The view is quite incredible and awe inspiring by being able to look over the edge to the valley floor of the Alvord Desert nearly 5000 feet below. As with all tall mountain ranges, the Steens can have very strong winter storms that yearly accumulate about 7 feet of snow. The Steens are a geological hotspot as well, offering up a cross section of the earths crust. Kiger Gorge gives onlookers the view of the earths different layers due to the carving out of the valley by massive glaciers that have long since disappeared. http://students.bus.oregonstate.edu/wilcw031/steens.jpg
Harney County is situated in south eastern corner of Oregon. Harney includes the furthermost northwestern tip of the Great Basin. The county is geographically in the Pacific Northwest, although it represents little of what many people imagine the region to be like. The western side of the Cascade Mountain Range is the part of the state that many people think of when speaking of Oregon; very wet, green, and lushish. However, the Cascades create a very large block on clouds carrying precipitation, thus making the eastern side of the Cascades much drier and arid. This further explains why Harney County is in the High Desert, that and the fact that much of the region is above 4000 to 5000 feet above sea level.
Harney County covers vast amounts of land from Nevada and halfway up to Washington. The county is one of the largest in the US, covering 10,228 square miles, an area that is larger than some East Coast states. The geography of the county is very diverse, but a common trait is that it is very arid. At the southern end of the county it is much like a desert, hense the name High Desert. Harney County cannot be thought of as just a region of desert and small shrubs, a large chunk of the county is covered by vast forests of Ponerosa Pine and Fir varities. The logging industy was once a great source of revenue to the county but the large Edward Hines Mill has been shut down since the late 1980's. Since the close of the mill Harney County's population has been in steady deline. Another leading industry that is still successful in Harney is the cattle ranching industry. Harney covers thousands of square miles of rangeland that makes it ideal for grazing.
Actually Harney is strong in many different aspects of agriculture, from cattle and sheep to hay production and alfalfa growing. All of the small rural communities are hubs for the agricultural communities that they are surrounded by. In Harney it is not uncommon to have to drive an excess of 5 miles just to meet your neighboor. Harney County brings a new view to the term wide open spaces.
Harney County is accessable in 4 different directions by highway. From Bend, Highway 20 east will lead here and west from Ontario on Highway 20. Highway 395 from John Day and Pendleton comes in from the north. 395 also comes up from the south from Lakeview and Klamath Falls. The final main highway that comes into Harney County is 78. Highway 78, which becomes Highway 95 just south of Burns Junction, comes up from the south from Winnemucca Nevada. Burns also has a small airport that can accommodate small planes and small passenger planes.
Most of Harney County is accessible by highway, although some of it requires a four wheel drive vehicle though. Since Harney is relatively flat, it is possible to get to nearly any point in the county. One reason for the ease of accessibility is the fact that much of the forested land has been logged. The logging roads throughout much of the forest are still usable and are moderately used year round by hunters and outdoors enthusiasts.
There are a number of points of interest to view while visiting Harney County. The Steens Mountains are a geological hotspot as well as an ideal area for hunting and winter recreation. Frenchglen is the center of the Peter French ranch. Peter French was a huge cattle rancher in the late 1800s. Peter French ran his cattle on much of Southern Oregon's rangeland and also created much of the meadow land around Frenchglen. Peter French also had the Roundbarn built to break his huge string of horses. Dick Jenkins offers tours of both the Steens and of the Roundbarn. Another point of interest is the Diamond Craters. The craters are located near the small community of Diamond. The craters are the remnants of caved in lava tubes. Throughout the county are old Indian camps where numerous artifacts may be found, of course abserve these but don't take them with you (if caught you can receive prison time).
Burns High School Athletics
Burns High School is becoming known as a school of champions. The school has always had a strong athletics program, but it has just over the past years begun to really shine. Burns wrestlers have started a legacy by winning the Oregon state championships 8 years in a row. The girls volleyball program is also one of the best in the state. Burns Girls basketball has also one their second state championship in only 3 years.
Crane Union High School
As the last public boarding school in the United States, the atmosphere at CUHS provides a sense of family between the students. CUHS serves as the High school for all the rural elementary schools. The entire county minus the Burns area is the school district. For more information vistit the school's website at cranehighschool.org.
Harney County offers a vast variety of dining options considering the size of the communities that are within it. Burns being the largest town in the county, offers up the greatest diversity in dining. Burns offers up both fast food options as well as some nice dining in restaurants. Some of the dine in restaurants serve such foods as Mexican, Asian, and American. The small outlying communities offer primarily cafe type food, all of which have very good reputations for excellent service as well as quality food.
There are a few alcohol serving establishments in Harney County. There are a number of bars along downtowns Main Street as well as most of the small cafes in the outlying communities serve alcohol as well.