I did a lot of looking up in Burns, Oregon on my trip in April 2023. The main purpose of my trip was to look for birds on Harney County Migratory Bird Festival tours. However, I arrived a day early to participate in the Downtown Walking History Tour.
A very short history of Burns, Oregon
Burns was officially established in 1884 and incorporated in 1889. The Northern Paiute, or their ancestors, lived here for thousands of years prior to the arrival of European settlers. Harney County, where Burns is located, is the largest county in Oregon and ninth largest in the nation. This sparsely populated county is 10,226 square miles in size. The population of Burns, its largest city, was 2,757 in 2021.
Our tour guide told us about the history of buildings along the main road. Sometimes she pointed out areas where no building currently exists. Unfortunately, fires destroyed many buildings in years past. It is ironic that the town of Burns had so many fires.
Looking up in Burns
While I listened to facts about many of the buildings we passed, I kept looking up in Burns. My attention wandered, and I focused on the architecture overhead.
Some of the buildings had fallen into disrepair.
Others retained parts of the original structure with updates, like modern windows.
The Federal Building housed the Post Office at one time. I think it was once the tallest building in Burns.
Some of the architectural details stood out to me.
The tan paint on the walls cracked in interesting patterns on this building. White edging with a scalloped edge shaded the green stones stuck into plaster.
Though the stonework was painted over on this building, the intricate top edge was left intact.
Some of the updated buildings, like the Masonic Building pictured below, have been carefully restored. The quote above the entrance reads, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Abraham Lincoln.
Renovated buildings in downtown Burns house apartments, upscale boutique hotels, and office space.
In 1899, the building pictured below was the C.H. Voegtly Hardware Building. Now it’s the 1899 Foundry. It’s “a place to encourage, connect, and grow small business startups.” See… things are looking up in Burns! 😀
Still, the old buildings have their charm. This is the Odd Fellows Building.
And if you look closely, you may find a glimpse of magic hidden in an alleyway. The rough construction of this wall anchors spreading branches of an immense plant, preserving tales from the past.
When visiting Burns, stop by the Harney County Library to pick up a walking tour guide about downtown’s history. Our tour guide was great and we had several locals along on the walk. Listening to their excitement describing what once was made the tour very entertaining.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Buildings and other structures