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Harney County, located in southeastern Oregon, is a land of vast landscapes and natural wonders that never fails to captivate the imagination of visitors. The history of Harney County is rich and varied, and here are seven interesting facts you don’t want to miss.

1. The Steens Mountain: Harney County is home to the majestic Steens Mountain, which is taller than most peaks in the Cascades and the Rockies and offers stunning views of the entire region. The mountain was named after Colonel Enoch Steen, who was a surveyor and explorer in the region in the mid-1800s.

2. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge: Harney County is also home to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which spans over 187,000 acres and is a haven for over 320 species of birds and 58 species of mammals. The refuge was established in 1908 and is now a popular tourist destination for birdwatchers.

3. Basque Sheepherders: In the early 20th century, Harney County’s sheep industry attracted a large number of Basque sheepherders who migrated from the Basque Country in Spain. In fact, the Basque presence in Harney County was so great that in the 1940s, there were more Basque-speaking people in the county than there were in the Basque Country.

4. The Great Basin: Harney County is part of the Great Basin, a vast expanse of land that covers much of western North America. The region is known for its unique ecosystem and its arid landscapes, which are home to a wide variety of plant and wildlife species.

5. The Burns Paiute Tribe: The Burns Paiute Tribe has lived in Harney County for centuries and continues to maintain its cultural traditions and connection to the land. The tribe operates the Burns Paiute Reservation, which spans over 13,000 acres and is home to over 400 tribal members.

6. The Oregon Trail: Harney County was an important stop on the Oregon Trail, which was a 2,000-mile journey undertaken by pioneers in the mid-1800s to settle in the west. Harney County was one of the last stops on the trail before reaching the Willamette Valley.

7. Mining Industry: Harney County has a long history of mining activities, with gold being one of the primary minerals that were extracted from the region. In the late 1800s, small mining towns like Austin, Diamond, and Borax flourished in the county, but the mining industry has since declined.

Overall, Harney County is a fascinating land with a rich history and a diverse cultural heritage that continues to thrive amidst its rugged terrain. Whether you’re interested in birdwatching, mountain climbing, or experiencing the unique culture of this region, Harney County has something to offer to everyone.

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